How to Buy, Use, and Store Coriander

Bon Appétit

There’s always a jar of coriander in my kitchen at any given time. Sometimes two jars if I’m shopping and can’t remember the last time I bought some. Maybe this sounds like you too?

If so, you’re not alone. Coriander is vital in a host of recipes from Latin American–inspired black beans, to spice blends like curry powder and garam masala, to blueberry recipes (you read that right) like latticed blueberry pie and fresh compote.

But how much do you know about this common seed? Did you know that it’s related to the parsley plant? (Both are members of the Apiaceae plant family.) Or that coriander has been used for centuries to relieve inflammation in the body? Read on for how to shop for coriander seeds, how to store them, and how to cook with them too.

What is coriander?

Coriander is the dried fruit of the Coriandrum sativum plant (a.k.a. coriander or cilantro plant—more on that distinction later). Indigenous to parts of western Asia, northern Africa, and southern Europe, this plant has spread to home gardens and markets around the world.

When a plant grows, the fresh coriander leaves will eventually flower. If left undisturbed, these flowers will go to seed, resulting in kelly-green-toned small berries. As the season wears on, these seeds begin to shrivel, turning to a pale army green color. At that point, they can be gently brushed off the plant and collected. By now the seeds are fairly dry, but letting them continue to dehydrate until crunchy is a good practice.

If you’re one of those people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap, there’s good news. The fresh leaves and its dried seed do not taste the same, so use the dried spice without fear. The seeds have an earthy, floral, slightly citrusy flavor—which is to say, they’re delicious.

Is it better to buy whole coriander seeds or ground coriander?

The trouble with buying spices pre-ground is that you don’t know when it happened. And once the seeds of any spice are pulverized, the clock on how long they’ll stay fresh starts ticking. For that reason, we recommend buying whole seeds and grinding them in small batches. The best tools for doing this are a mortar and pestle or an electric spice grinder. The former will give you more control over the coarseness of the grind, while a spice grinder will cover more ground faster. Whole coriander also means you have twice as many recipe options: those that call for coriander seeds and those that call for ground.

Any favorite brands for coriander seeds?

Test kitchen editor Kendra Vaculin is partial to this BA favorite: “I love Burlap & Barrel for whole seeds because they sell them in a grinder which makes it very convenient.” Our team also has many fans of Diaspora Co., who sells their coriander in a metal tin—helpful for maintaining freshness, and pretty too.

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Author:Carly Westerfield |

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