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I want to harvest the seeds from a Coriander/Cilantro plant. I would like to pick them now, but investigation on the internet suggests that I should let them dry on the plant. Why?

The plant has bolted so I would like to cut it back to encourage new growth.

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  • RE: the tags, I inferred that this question had nothing to do with seed saving and everything to do with maintaining the cilantro (herb) harvest, while not ruining the coriander (spice) harvest. – Peter Turner Aug 3 '11 at 18:53
  • RE: the tags, "coriander (spice) harvest" <-- I personally think "coriander" & "spice" would be good tags to have & applicable to this question. I tried to say something along those lines in the "Gardening" chat room but for some reason I'm currently unable to login to chat... – Mike Perry Aug 3 '11 at 19:07
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    @Mike, @Peter, My reasoning was that "herb" is a useful tag and you could visit it and get a general idea of things in common with all herbs and their upkeep (bolting/pinching/etc). On the other hand, "spice" is a very broad term that could refer to a dried seed (coriander,fennel), root (turmeric, ginger), bark (cinnamon), fruit (cardamom), leaves (bay leaves), flower (saffron) etc, and the only thing tying them together is their flavour and aroma and this ventures into cooking - not very useful on this site, IMHO. If you strongly feel that it would be useful, then by all means, add it. – Lorem Ipsum Aug 3 '11 at 21:03
  • Once it's flowered cilantro is done - it won't go back to a vegetative stage. And the seeds need to really mature on this species. Wait until the stems start to brown until you harvest them. In addition, once the plant begins flowering, the cilantro (the leaves) acquire a different flavor, which some people dislike (even cilantro lovers). – Eric Deloak Nov 23 '15 at 18:40
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Chances are picking the seeds once it's gone to seed isn't going to actually encourage new growth. If you're not interested in the coriander spice then you might as well try picking off the seeds and flowers to see what happens.

The seeds dry on the plant and you pick them when the plant is dried, you can either leave them in your garden to pick them or hang'em upside down and dry them. I don't think the seeds in your picture will dry out properly if picked though, they usually turn brown on the plant.

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The longer you can leave the seed-heads on the plant the better (IMHO).

Q. Why?

  • You want the seeds inside to fully develop, become mature before harvesting ie Gain maximum flavour, and this can only be achieved by leaving the seeds on the (living) plant.

  • Immature seeds will taste bitter ie Not what most people want from their Coriander seeds.

  • The seeds are fully mature, ready for harvest, when the seed-heads start to turn brown. As soon as you see this happen (it's best to keep a daily eye on this to occur, as you don't want the seeds falling from the seed-heads under their own steam), either harvest the whole plant or just cut the seed-heads off.

  • If you allow the seed-heads to ripen too much

After harvesting you will need to dry the seeds, please let us know if you require information on that part of the process.

  • Iv read green seeds taste bitter, but surely I can harvest them and dry them and then they wont be bitter? – Dan Aug 3 '11 at 18:34
  • @Dan, I honestly don't know, you could try it & see. But I believe for maximum flavour you would need to harvest "mature" seeds. – Mike Perry Aug 3 '11 at 18:43
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    @Dan I've got coriander seeds I've harvested two or three years ago still sitting around, they dried on the plant and still taste good. I know gourds, for instance, need to reach a certain maturity before they can dry off the vine (and not just mold) and coriander is probably similar. – Peter Turner Aug 3 '11 at 18:49
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You can harvest the seeds just as they go pink/brown and dry them successfully for both spice and germination (about 75% success). This avoids them falling off but you do need to check them often.

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