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Coriander-Cilantro

Coriander/cilantro has lots of culinary uses and is said to attract bees. It's an annual plant that grows about 2 feet tall. The finely divided leaves have a strong flavor and small white or purplish-tinged flowers. This herb does well in any garden soil. Most often it is used in Mexican and Asian dishes. The leaves can be used in soups, stews, salads, and dips, while the wel- dried seeds work best to flavor liquors and baked goods. Coriander is the seed, cilantro is the leaves and they are very different in taste.

To harvest, pick outer leaves for fresh use in recipes any time after the plant reaches 6" in height. Harvest the entire plant by cutting near ground level. Cilantro does not dry well so if you want to store some for later use, rinse the leaves and freeze in ice cube trays. Fill ice cube cells 3/4 full of leaves, then cover with hot water or oil, freeze them and store in airtight freezer container for later use. The seed can be harvested after the plant bolts and the seed heads start to turn brown. Cut from the plant and hang in a paper bag, upside down, in a well-ventilated dark area. Shake the bag occasionally to loosen the seeds. Make sure the seeds are completely dry before storing in an air-tight container. If in doubt, taste a seed or two -- if it tastes bitter, it is not completely dry. Seeds can be dried in the oven if necessary by spreading them on a cookie sheet and putting them in a preheated oven set at the lowest temperature for about 5-10 minutes. Remove and store when cooled.

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