Do you want to harvest cilantro back to back for several years? Never waste money on new seeds ever again! Your one-time purchased seeds will provide plants for a lifetime. Here is a detailed guide on when and how to harvest cilantro seeds. It’s so simple and can be a fun activity to do with your kids.
Be it for its leaves or spice; cilantro is an excellent garden crop. As a self-seeding crop, your cilantro plants will yield surplus ready-to-grow seeds. You can store some as a spice and save the remaining to replant the following year.
To harvest cilantro seeds, you must wait until your cilantro plants bolt, bloom flowers, produce green berries, and later dry down to brown seeds. By now, your plant might look completely dry and non-viable, but don’t fall for it! This is the best time to harvest the seeds.
Collect the dry seeds in a dry bowl and store them in an air-tight container. These seeds will last for several years. Use them as a spice in your curries, or keep them to replant your next batch of cilantro plants!
Please keep reading to learn more about how to harvest new cilantro seeds and ways to clean and store them. You will be shocked at how simple and cost-effective it can be!
Cilantro Vs. Coriander
Cilantro and coriander are the same plant species, Coriandrum sativum. Cilantro refers to the fresh leaves, stalks, and stems of the Coriandrum plants, while coriander refers to their dry seeds. Both of them are edible.
Regarding names, the US and other European countries refer to both the leafy herb and the spice as coriander. In contrast, American states prefer to call the left herb cilantro and seeds coriander.
The leafy herb and the spice differ in appearance, taste, usage, and nutrient properties. Cilantro is very famous for its freshness in Mexican and Thai cuisines. And coriander is famous for flavoring spice in Indian cooking.
However, in this article, we shall focus more on cilantro seeds than their leaves. Know more about when and how to harvest cilantro seeds and ways to clean and store them for several years.
When To Harvest Cilantro Seeds?
Cilantro plants grow fast. Cilantro leaves are ready for harvest in one month when they’re only 6 inches tall. Their seeds, however, take time. Mature plants grow up to 2 feet to form the cilantro seeds. This can take between 90 and 120 days from planting.
How to identify mature cilantro seeds?
Mature plants bolts and begins to produce white flower clusters. These attract pollinators and later become lime green-colored berries. But wait, you can’t harvest them yet. Let these bulbs turn from green to pink and then brown. Only now are the seeds viable and ready for harvest.
It is crucial to avoid harvesting the green seeds are they taste bitter and are non-viable. Please wait until the entire plant and its seeds dry out. This usually occurs 2 -3 weeks from flowering.
If you don’t harvest the cilantro seeds once they mature, they loosen and fall. These fallen seeds develop into their plants. But fret not! They are not invasive.
When is the correct time to harvest the cilantro seeds?
Summer is the best time to harvest cilantro seeds. If you plan to collect the coriander seeds, you have to wait until the plant blooms, fruit, and dry up. This usually takes up until the summer season.
Let the plant remain in your yard if it’s almost winter. Never harvest your seeds in winter. They might dry partially and stay non-viable. In this state, you cannot use them in your kitchen or make new plants from them.
It is also advisable to avoid harvesting the seeds after rain. The seeds might retain moisture and fail to remain viable while you store them. If there are dry spells during summer, wait a few days for them dry and later collect them. On the safer side, place these collected seeds in an open container for a month at room temperature. Later transfer them into a dry storing container and preserves them for several years.
How To Harvest Cilantro Seeds?
Harvesting cilantro seeds is very simple. Once the plants and seeds have become dry, brown, and brittle, start collecting them.
Things you might need
There are only two things you might need to harvest cilantro seeds
- A trimmer,
- A paper bag or a large bowl
In most cases, you might not even need a trimmer. Personally, I use my hands to rub them off with my fingers. It is more simple and more efficient.
There are three ways to collect coriander seeds. All three techniques are almost the same but work well under different situations.
- Method 1 – Trim the seed umbels
- Method 2 – Handpick the seeds
- Method 3 – Chop the entire plant
Harvesting method 1- Trim the seed umbels.
Step 1: Position your paper bag or bowl just below the cilantro seeds you are about to trim. You can use seed storage containers to collect the seeds. Make sure it’s clean and dry to avoid contamination.
Step 2: Use a trimmer and cut the umbels of brown seeds. Be gentle. Avoid trimming too close to seeds. This can break the cluster and makes it hard to handle.
Step 3: Place a bowl or paper bag to put the trimmed clusters. While cutting them as clusters, you might collect a few branches along with coriander seeds. Yet, that’s alright. We can separate them later.
Step 4: Repeat the steps for other branches of the cilantro plant until you collect them all.
Trimming one umbel after another can be time-consuming. Considering that there might be over 150 seeds from a single plant, trying simple techniques can save you time and energy. This is where our second method comes in: stripping the seeds by hand!
Harvesting method 2 – Handpick the seeds.
Here is another casual way to pick cilantro seeds. Instead of a trimmer, I use my hands to pluck them. But heads up, it’s just my personal preference. If you want to avoid getting your hand dirty, continue harvesting your coriander seeds using trimmers.
Step 1: Take a paper bag or food-safe container near your seeds to collect them.
Step 2: Gently strip the seeds from their branches swiftly. The lateral branches are already dry and brittle. You can easily pull off the corianders from them.
Step 3: Drop the collected seeds and any branches that came along with them into the collecting container.
Step 4: Keep repeating until you collect all the seeds.
This is my favorite technique. It saves me time and energy. Cilantro is a tough plant, so the stem of the plant will stay intact and provide resistance while we strip the seeds. This way, you can collect seeds efficiently.
Harvesting method 3 – Chop the entire plant.
This method combines trimming and handpicking. More efficient than the other two methods but requires chopping the entire plant.
So, if you have sharp trimmers, you can chop the entire shoot of the plant or rip them out from the roots to collect the seeds. Here are some simple steps to make this method work.
Step 1: Place a sizeable food-safe bowl on a flat surface. I usually place mine on my lawn bed.
Step 2: Use a trimmer and cut the entire plant by its central stem.
Step 3: Turn the chopped plant upside down over the large collecting bowl.
Step 4: Gentle strip off the seeds from the plant using your fingers.
You can collect the seeds faster with this technique. As the entire plant has the bowl beneath it, the chances of seeds scattering or dropping are minimal.
Once you’ve collected all the seeds, take them indoors and move on to the next step after harvesting – Separating them!
How to Separate Cilantro Seeds?
The collected cilantro seeds usually have lots of trash, dust, and twigs. You must remove and clean these seeds to make them ready for use.
To begin with, you might need two colanders and a few plates to separate the seeds. While choosing colanders, make sure that one has holes larger than the coriander seeds while the other has finer holes. You can also spread a waste cloth or old newspapers to avoid littering while separating the coriander.
Here are the steps to separate cilantro seeds.
- Empty the collecting container into the large holed colander
- Remove any large or visible twigs from the seed clusters
- Sieve them to collect the seeds and small chaffs that come along
- Use the fine hole colander to refilter them. This time your colander will retain the coriander seeds.
- Put the separated coriander into a clean plate.
You might still have some twigs in your seeds. Try picking them out as much as you can. Post separating and cleaning, store your corianders for future use.
How to Store Cilantro Seeds?
Storing cilantro seeds is a straightforward method. Check if your seeds are dry before you store them. If not, lay them flat in a dry room and air-dry them. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight; this might alter the taste of the seeds.
Suppose you are storing it for cooking purposes. Put your spices into a clean, dry mason jar. These seeds can retain their flavor for several years, provided they are kept away from water. Another way to maintain flavor is by storing them as whole seeds. Even though grounding them in the best way to release flavors, only do so once you need them.
If you are storing them for planting, put the dry seeds into small envelopes and place them in a dry spot. You can use a ring binder file or storage boxes to organize them. It is best to use them the next year and restock the new seeds.
In summary- How to harvest cilantro seeds?
Harvesting cilantro seeds is simple and helps you save money on new news. You can keep some coriander for cooking and the rest for planting the following year.
Understanding how to harvest cilantro seeds from plant can help you get the best viable seeds for future use. If it is for personal use, you can allow only a couple of cilantro plants to bolt and produce seeds. Keep the rest for the fresh cilantro leaves.
To sum it up, the simplicity and affordability of harvesting cilantro are phenomenal. These can be a create choice of herb to begin gardening. And a great beginner-friendly crop to start your seed collections. I mean, who wants to buy new seeds when your cilantro plants can shower you with hundreds of seeds every harvest?
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How long does it take for cilantro seeds to harvest?
It usually takes 3-4 months to harvest the cilantro seeds from planting them. Choose summer to harvest them and get the best results.
Can you harvest cilantro seeds when they are green?
If you dislike the citrusy zing taste, avoid harvesting the green seeds. These immature taste bitter when you use them in cooking. Green seeds are also non-viable, meaning to cannot use them to replant cilantro the following year.
What happens if you don’t harvest cilantro seeds?
When to let the seeds stay on the plants, they will naturally dry up and fall back to the ground. As these are self-growing crops, cilantro seeds will sprout into cilantro plants. It’s very normal to lose a few seeds every year. This results in new patches of cilantro greens in your yard every now and then.
How long do cilantro seeds last?
Cilantro seeds can last for several years. However, they begin to lose viability after two years. It is advisable to harvest a set of cilantro seeds every year and replant them the following year.
As for cooking, the seeds can retain flavor much longer. Powder them when needed to enhance their flavoring. However, it is a good practice to replenish your stocks annually to get the best benefits.
How long does it take for coriander seeds to dry?
It takes around two weeks for the seeds to dry. The flowering phase is short, and, you can expect to harvest the viable seeds three weeks from here.