How to Harvest and Dry Coriander

comments (9) August 22nd, 2009

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This coriander looks pretty green.
Getting there, but still not ready for harvesting.
Dried coriander ready for picking.
This coriander looks pretty green.Click To Enlarge

This coriander looks pretty green.

Photo: Kate Geruntho Frank

Most of us go to great lengths to keep our veggies and herbs from bolting. We shade our lettuces and pick the flowers off our basil plants, and if we’re really ambitious, we practice succession sowing so we can have a steady supply of fresh herbs even in the hot summer months.

For me, the exception to this rule is cilantro. Cilantro is one of those herbs I put in the ground and then mostly ignore until about midsummer, when it has flowered, flopped over, and gone to seed. That’s when I think cilantro is at its best, because who can argue that coriander is pretty much the best spice ever?

I like my coriander in large quantities. I use it in homemade hummus and falafel, in sautés, and sometimes even on plain pasta. It's also pretty delicious in this spiced nuts recipe from

Here's how to harvest and dry coriander:

1. Wait until the cilantro plant has bolted and then started to dry and turn brown. The fruits should come away from the plant easily.

Not ready yet--still a bit too green.
Coriander ready for harvesting.

2. Cut the plant at its base, taking care that the fruit doesn't scatter. If the fruit does scatter, your cilantro plant will probably reseed--more free cilantro plants next year.

3. Place the plant in a paper bag and shake the bag so the seeds fall off the plant. If the seeds don't fall off easily, place the bag in a warm, dry area for a few days, then try again.

4. Pick over your coriander to be sure all the stems are removed.

5. Coriander that isn’t fully dried tastes bitter. If your coriander needs further drying, spread the seeds on a baking sheet. Preheat your oven to its lowest temperature, then turn your oven off. Place the baking sheet in the oven for five minutes. This should remove any excess moisture.

6. Store your coriander in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place.

More Reading:
How to Grow Cilantro
Video: How to Dry Herbs
Article: How to Dry Herbs

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Comments (9)

GreenKrusty writes: I use coriander in beer (Belgian Wit). The info here was valuable as I have a bumper crop of coriander that has volunteered in my orchard. Anyone familiar with Indian Coriander? where do you obtain the seeds? ...mine, I'm sure are regular new world coriander. Yes, if u were wondering, I love the cilantro, too. : )
Posted: 6:24 pm on July 8th
KathleenZ writes: Great information! Thanks for sharing. Sadly, I cut my coriander before ithe seeds turned brown (i wish i read this post first!) - Is there any use for the green seeds or should I (sniff sniff) compost it?
Posted: 8:24 pm on August 15th
Auntfiggy writes: Thanks, I have some bolted coriander and your pictures are very helpful and comments.
Posted: 2:00 pm on August 4th
MikeQuinn writes: Thank you for posting this. I was growing cilantro, which bolted, and could not find out how or when to harvest the coriander. Your pictures and description helped a bunch. Thanks.

Posted: 12:05 pm on July 11th
Ruth writes: The cheap pepper grinder is a great idea. In the past, I've saved the seed, dried it, and laboriously separated it, but then just stored it in jars. I used a mortar and pestle to grind it when I needed some for cooking.
Posted: 8:55 am on December 10th
hilo4noff writes: I grow a bunch of cilantro just for salsa every year, and this was my first year saving the coriander. I cut the little seed bunches off the stalks and put them in a paper bag over winter in the garage. Then in early spring, spent almost a day separating the little balls from the stems. Not an easy task, even after 4 months of drying out. Then I saved one of those crappy black pepper grinders that black pepper comes in, at the store when it was empty, and refilled it with similarly sized coriander balls, and just grind up a couple of caps full for my chili recipe. The amount of labor was absolutely worth it, as I now have enough coriander for the next 4 - 5 years, from just that one day of pain in the butt sorting seeds from stems. In fact it's soo good in everything I add it to, that I'm going to do a harvest this year, to give away at Christmas time in the same grinder configuration to friends.
Posted: 4:34 pm on December 9th
Kate_Frank writes: Leslie, why not plant extra? Or would you use all that up, too? :) I'm that way with basil.

I prefer ground coriander to using to the whole seeds. There's something about the burst of flavor in a seed that's too much for me. I usually try to crush the seeds by pounding on them with the side of a knife, but I'm thinking if I had a small coffee grinder specifically for spices, that would work, too.
Posted: 11:54 am on August 24th
ChrisMcLaughlin writes: I'm so glad you posted this because many people don't realize where coriander comes from and it's so difficult to keep cilantro from bolting!
Posted: 11:58 pm on August 22nd
LeslieinPayson writes: We use the cilantro (leaves) in such large amounts in Mexican food and salsa that I can't get enough grown, it goes to seed. I knew that the seeds are used as a spice but I never saved them. Do you crush them or anything to release the flavor?
Posted: 4:13 pm on August 22nd
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