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Know What You Eat | All about Coriander

Coriander. The BEAST of all herbs. We love this herb because you can literally use and eat all of it. It’s stems and leaves are delicious to add into most dishes, it’s beautiful white flowers are not only gorgeous but also bear the fruit which is actually the Coriander seed which is also used in cooking! Amazing.

Coriander, from the Apiaceae family, has been around for AGES, centuries even! It’s believed to be the oldest used herb today, dating back to 1550 B.C. It’s seeds have been found in Pharos tombs, ruins dating back to 5000BC and the herb even has a shout out in the Bible. Seventeenth century Frenchmen used distilled coriander to make a type of liquor. Hmmmm. It has got to be one of the most commonly used herbs all over the world, not being specific to any country or type of cuisine.

Corainder is an annual plant, meaning that it completes it’s life cycle in one year. The plant can grow up to 20 inches in height. It’s shape and size of the leaves depend on their position on the stem. Feathery leaves are more typically found on the flowering stalks while the fan shaped, deeply lobed leaves, are seen at the base of the plant. We describe the leaves as fresh and grassy with a hint of a lemony taste to them.

The fruit, or seeds, are two semi globular fruits joined on the inner sides, making it look like a single smooth fruit, about 5mm in diameter. When the fruit is ripe it will split in half releasing two seeds. Some describe these yummy little things as having a mild, fragrant aromatic taste, similar to a combination of sage and lemon peel. The seeds have about 0.1 to 1 percent essential oil with it’s principal component being coriandrol.

Some people describe the taste of coriander as soapy and simply do not like it. What is interesting for those of you who dislike it, is that medical studies have shown that it is the genetic constitution of an individual that will determine whether the person will like or dislike coriander. So in layman’s terms, our genes predispose whether we are keen on this herb or not!

So for those of you who are genetically predisposed to liking Coriander, let’s chat about cooking with it. The herb can be used fresh, dried or grounded. The leaves are most commonly used as a garnish added before serving a dish, mainly because heat weakens the flavour. The leaves make an excellent boost in flavour to curry’s, rice dishes, omelette’s, soups, salads and so much more. The seeds are more commonly used in the preparation of dishes, like in pork and lamb. The seeds are also popular in some rye breads, and in Belgium they use Coriander as a flavouring agent in some types of beers. The cool thing here to add is that Coriander contains phytochemicals, which help in the delay of food spoilage.

Let’s talk about the health benefits of this great herb. It’s a brilliant source of dietary fibre, manganese, iron, potassium and magnesium. Its leaves are rich in Vit C, K, and protein. Coriander has been known for its aid in the digestive area, helping with indigestion and diarrhea. It can also help those with diabetes as it regulates elevated blood sugar levels. And what’s more, it can help in the treatment of skin inflammation, mouth ulcers, anaemia, menstrual disorders and even high cholesterol levels. Most studies have shown that this fantastic herb can relieve pain in joints and lend a helping hand to those suffering from haemorrhoids.

Now have yourselves a fantastic day with all that new knowledge and don’t forget to sprinkle a leaf or two of Coriander on everything you eat from now on!

Check out a similar post we last did on Sugar Cane in our new series, Know What You Eat

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