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Coriander - Natural remedy of the month

  April 2010


corianderSomeone once said to me that coriander isn’t their favourite herb, it is both their favourite herbs! That is because you can use the leaves as well as the seeds in many tasty recipes. It is also believed to have a number of health benefits.

Coriander has been around forever – it is even referred to in the Bible where the colour of “manna” is compared to it. The Romans brought coriander to Britain and it has been widely used in cookery and for some health remedies ever since.

It is a hardy plant – actually a member of the parsley family - and is an annual although occasionally can survive into a second year. It grows to only around two feet and has small pink, pale blue or white flowers. It is widely grown around the world now although it prefers warm dry conditions.

The seeds are the most used part of this plant. They are sweet and aromatic, with a gentle citrus undertone. Whole seeds keep for very long periods, but when ground the flavour and aroma disappears far more quickly. The seeds are used in many curries and Asian dishes and also increasingly in a range of other meals where their distinct taste add to the overall flavour. Fresh leaves have a stronger more pungent flavour but added as decoration with a touch of flavour are proving popular in a number of dishes.

Coriander seed oil has long been praised as an aromatic stimulant and also as something that can help the digestion. It is also said to benefit the nervous system – coriander cakes used to be baked to treat “St Anthony’s Fire”. In Asia, coriander is used for many conditions including headaches, piles, conjunctivitis and rheumatism.

Interestingly, recent studies show that coriander contains an antioxidant that helps prevent animal fats from turning rancid and also contains substances that kill certain bacteria and fungi. This could help support the belief that coriander can be used as an antiseptic to help clean minor cuts and wounds.

Coriander is a popular plant for gardens and if planted in a sunny position, can produce fine plants with many seeds.

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