I used to get frustrated when I let my cilantro plants bolt, but last year my upset gave way to deep appreciation for this process. I learned that cilantro is a plant that keeps on giving. The leaves are tasty, but so are the stems, flowers, and seeds. The umbels (flowers) impart a sweet cilantro flavor to a salad, add lightness to a bouquet, or make a fragrant garnish on a cocktail. I use cilantro stems in homemade vegetable stock. One of my favorite combinations is corn cob and cilantro stem. I love getting a luxurious stock from items that are normally tossed into the compost. I save the dried brown coriander seeds to have on hand for curries and baked goods, although we do scatter some of the brown seeds where we want cilantro to grow next year. But the real prize from bolted cilantro are green coriander seeds. I love to eat them straight off the plant. They are also delicious tossed into a salad or stir fry for unexpected pops of bright flavor. Try them crushed in a mortar and pestle for a marinade, dressing, or to top salmon.
Cilantro belongs to the Umbellifer family, a family filled with many culinary and aromatic plants. Even though they are the same plant, cilantro and coriander have such different flavors. I think the green coriander seeds bridge the two flavors. They combine the grassy bite of cilantro with the mellow sweetness of coriander.
We love to use cilantro in cocktails. Cilantro adds a welcome vegetal boost to Bloody Marys or gin + tonics. In the summer I love to shake up a refreshing cilantro gimlet. I thought that it would be nice to use the green coriander seeds to make a syrup for soda, cocktails, and lassis. This syrup perfectly captures the transition from summer to autumn. I also thought that the bright coriander seeds would be nice to to make some coriander snaps, or infused vodka. The resulting liquid is incredible! I decided to keep a bottle in the freezer. This is a delicious nip to serve with food, much like aquavit.
Here are some easy recipes for green coriander seed delights: A garden gimlet, an infused syrup, a lassi, and an infused vodka. May your cilantro bolt and provide.
Green Coriander Seed Gimlets
Gimlets are a refreshing classic cocktail. They are usually made with a 8:2:1 ratio of gin:lime juice:simple syrup, but when I make a garden gimlet, I often increase the lime juice and simple syrup to use a 4:2:2 ratio of gin:lime juice:simple syrup. This basic recipe is a blank canvas for whatever botanicals are in season or are in need of some pinching off in the garden. Garden gimlets are easy to make, and adding either fresh herbs or homemade botanical syrups is pretty effortless.
Cocktail shaker or mason jar with a lid, mesh strainer, cocktail glasses (commonly called martini glasses), rocks, or juice glasses
3-4 ounces London dry gin
2 ounces fresh lime juice
2 ounces green coriander seed syrup (see recipe below)
Place all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake well and strain into small cocktail glasses, or serve on the rocks in rocks or juice glasses. Garnish with fresh herbs or edible blossoms.
Garden Gimlet Tips:
- If you prefer a drier drink, just increase the amount of gin.
- Chill your cocktail glasses while you are preparing the drinks. Put a mixture of ice and water in the glasses. Pour out contents when you are ready to strain the drink into the glasses.
- Shake your cocktail shaker or mason jar (with a secure lid) well. I like to hold the shaker with two hands and shake at shoulder height for about 10 good shakes.
Green Coriander Seed Syrup
This syrup is perfect for cocktails, homemade sodas, yogurt, and lassis.
Spoon or spatula
One Tablespoon of green coriander seeds, crushed with a mortar and pestle or a with a hammer
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Add all ingredients to a medium saucepan and simmer over medium low heat until sugar has dissolved, about ten minutes. Stir the mixture every few minutes, if needed. Remove from heat. Let cool. Strain into a bottle. This syrup will keep in the fridge for a few weeks.
Green Coriander Seed Lassi
Lassis are traditional yogurt drinks from South Asia. I love them either salted or sweet, and with spices like cardamom. Because green coriander combines wonderfully with yogurt, I thought that I would try making a lassi with it. The resulting beverage is thirst quenching and pairs well with spicy food.
Blender, spatula, pint glass
1 cup plain yogurt
½ cup water
2 Tablespoons green coriander seed syrup (see recipe above)
Garnish: Turmeric powder and cilantro leaves
Add all ingredients to the blender and process until well-blended. Pour into an iced filled pint glass. Garnish with cilantro leaves and a sprinkle of turmeric.
Green Coriander Snaps (Infused Vodka)
This is the best reason to let cilantro bolt. Keep the infusion in the freezer for a hot weather sip. This vodka is excellent with tonic water and lime or in a Bloody Mary.
Small sturdy bowl and a muddler or wooden spoon, or a mortar and pestle
Clean jar for infusing vodka (a pint mason jar works well)
Basket style coffee filter (a cone filter will work too)
A pour over coffee maker, or a funnel and strainer
A bottle to store your infused vodka
1 cup vodka
1 Tablespoon of fresh green coriander seeds
Lightly muddle the green coriander seeds in a small bowl or in a mortar and pestle. Pour the crushed seeds into a clean jar. Pour the vodka over. Cover the jar tightly and put in a cool, dark place for 3 weeks to a month. Give the jar a shake every few days. Over time the vodka will change color. When the infusion is full of flavor, strain it through a coffee filter into a bottle. I use a Rube Goldberg contraption of a basket style coffee filter in a wire strainer inside a wide funnel. It really gets the job done.
If stored at room temperature, the infusion should keep for a year.