Coriander - Herbs And Spices Lexicon

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Coriander - Herbs And Spices Lexicon
Coriander - Herbs And Spices Lexicon


There are only a few herbs that differ as much as the fresh leaves of coriander: some love the aroma, while others find it more intrusive to biting. However, there have been consistently positive reactions to coriander fruits, which differ significantly from the leaves in terms of their floral aroma. Coriander leaves have a very intense aroma which, in addition to being “bug-like”, is also described as refreshing lemon to mandarin-like…


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  • Botany
  • Ingredients, smell and taste
  • Use and preparation


Coriander (Coriandrum sativum) is originally a biennial plant that comes from the eastern Mediterranean region and, together with parsley, lovage, and dill, belongs to the umbelliferous plant family (Apiaceae). The coriander plant grows up to 70 centimeters high in bloom and has leaves that resemble parsley. The lower leaves are three-lobed, the upper pinnate. The double umbels bloom white, pink or reddish and form up to five mm large oval to round cleft fruits, which are often wrongly called seeds, but are nuts in the botanical sense.

When ripe, the fruits, which are clearly longitudinally ribbed, turn yellowish-brown to reddish. Differences in size of the fruits result from fine or large-grained subspecies (ssp. Micro- and ssp. Macrocarpum). In contrast to many other aromatic plants of the umbelliferae, the fruits of the coriander do not disintegrate into their individual partial fruits, such as with caraway.

Coriander uses the following herbs and spices:

  • Leaves and stems
  • fruit
  • root

The name "coriander" is derived from the Greek "koris". This means "bug" and most likely refers to the bug-like, intrusive smell of fresh plant parts such as leaves and unripe fruits. The unflattering German names Wanzendill, Wanzenkraut or Wanzenkümmel also refer to it. The visual similarity of coriander and parsley also led to names such as Indian and Chinese parsley. In this country one also comes across the Spanish name "cilantro".

Coriander can also be cultivated under local climatic conditions. It thrives on moist, humus rich soils and likes it sunny to partially shaded and sheltered from the wind. The leaves are harvested as needed. The umbellate flowers turn brown from mid-July to the end of August. Then these can be cut and dried overhead. It is recommended to put a paper bag over it to collect the fruit.

Tip Coriander is very suitable for a mixed culture with other plants, especially with cabbage plants: its intense smell drives away pests such as lice or cabbage whites and attracts beneficial organisms such as bees.

Ingredients, smell and taste

Coriander leaves have a very intense aroma that is described not only as "bug-like" and as refreshing lemon to mandarin-like. The leaves are also said to have a sage note. However, many people find its aroma unpleasant and intrusive. Flavoring ingredients are primarily unsaturated, long-chain aldehydes such as decenal or tridecenal, which are primarily responsible for the bug-like odor.

As the parts of the plant develop, for example when the fruit is ripe, the pleasant smelling linalool is increasingly produced. Ripe, dried coriander fruits therefore have a mild, warm aroma that is described as nutty to woody, sometimes also orange-like. Your essential oil consists mainly of monoterpenes such as linalool, limonene, α- and β-pinene. The aromas typical of many dishes arise from the roasting process of the spice, which is often used in the kitchen, which leads to the formation of pyrazines. These increase the intensity of the spice. The aroma of the roots is similar to that of the leaves, but it is somewhat hotter.

Use and preparation

Coriander is used as a leaf and fruit spice, both of which differ significantly in taste and smell. The root is also used in Thai cuisine, e.g. for curry pastes.

Coriander leaves are used particularly in Asian cuisine, especially in Vietnam, Thailand, China and Indonesia. The culinary role of the leaves in Asian countries is comparable to the importance of parsley in European cuisine. In the cuisine of Latin America, the leaves are used in various salsas and also in guacamole, a preparation with avocado, tomatoes, chilli and onions. The leaves should be used fresh and not cooked. When dried, the leaves have little to no flavor. They can be stored in a plastic container in the refrigerator for up to four days. Coriander leaves can also be chopped and frozen.

The coriander fruits are used when ripe and dried, whole or ground. They are a component of many spice mixtures such as curry powder or the Indian garam masala. In this country, the fruits are also used in bread and gingerbread spice mixtures and for pickling vegetables. To get the best flavor yield, the fruits are best ground or pounded in a mortar as needed. The aroma of the fruit does not only harmonize with spicy food, but also with fruit such as apple, pear or plum.

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