Canada's Coriander Seed Industry
Coriander (Coriandrum sativum), a member of the carrot family (Umbelliferae), is an annual, heat-loving spice crop native to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. The name coriander comes from the Greek word koris meaning bug, as the unripe fruits of the coriander plants have a scent similar to bedbugs. The ripe seeds, however, have a distinctive, sweet aroma that carries over a great distance and has been valued for many centuries. There are two types of coriander produced in Canada: large-seeded coriander and small-seeded cilantro. The large-seeded coriander is grown in northern temperate climates and requires a shorter time to maturity, while the small-seeded cilantro is grown in moderately temperate regions and has higher essential oil content. When coriander is harvested for the seed, it is known as coriander, however, when it is harvested as a fresh herb or for the leaves, it is called cilantro.
Coriander can be grown successfully on a wide range of soil types; however, it performs best on well-drained loam and sandy loam soils. In recent years coriander, along with caraway, another member of the carrot family, has been affected by flower blight with the most severe infections occurring in cool, wet conditions. There are numerous other pests and diseases that affect coriander such as grasshoppers, aphids, sclerotinia, aster yellows, and puccinia rust. As a result of the numerous diseases, a four-year crop rotation with other members of the carrot family as well as other crops vulnerable to the same diseases such as canola should be followed. Coriander should also not be planted near fennel as they do not grow well together.
Nutritional analysis indicates that coriander seed is a very good source of dietary fibre, iron, magnesium and manganese.
Products and Uses
The coriander plant yields both the fresh herb and spice seed, which are used primarily for culinary purposes. Coriander also has medicinal and cosmetic functions in the extracted essential oil form. Cilantro, the leaves of the plant, is one of the most widely used flavouring agents in the world, as it is used in Middle Eastern, Chinese, and Latin American cuisine. In addition to being a key component of curries, cilantro is used as seasoning for soups and salads in Canada. Coriander seeds are used as a spice to flavour such foods as liqueurs, candies, sausages, and pickles. The demand for coriander, in both the spice and herb forms, has been increasing with the growth in consumption of ethnic foods. The essential oil that is extracted from the spice seed is used to mask the taste of unpleasant medicine as well as to calm the irritating effects of other medicines on the stomach. The oil is also used to scent soaps, perfumes, and other cosmetics.
Grading standards for coriander seed are not set by the Canadian Grain Commission; rather it is the buyer that grades the coriander seeds on the basis of aroma and appearance. The seed colour should be as light as possible as darker seed will be discounted; also, a mildly sweet and spicy flavour and aroma is optimal. Although there are no official grading standards, all coriander seed must be cleaned in accordance with the standards set by the American Spice Trade Association.
For the latest market information and analysis available from Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, please consult the following publications:
Please note that the Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association is the secretariat for the National Herb and Spice Coalition. For more information, please contact the Saskatchewan Herb and Spice Association.
Alberta New Crops Network (ANCN)
Upper 5303 - 91 Street
B.C. Herb Growers Association
998 Skeena Drive
Kelowna, British Columbia
Canadian Herb Society
VanDusen Botanical Gardens
5251 Oak Street
Vancouver, British Columbia
Fédération de l'agriculture biologique du Québec (in French only)
Affiliated to Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA)
555 Boul Roland Therrien
Filière des plantes médicinales biologiques du Québec (in French only)
C.P. 43, Magog, Quebec
Flower and Herb Growers Association of Alberta
244034 Range Road 32
Southern Alberta: Ken Wright 403-686-4434
Peace Region: Mary Ann Wilson 403-538-1429
Medicinal & Aromatic Plants Association of Manitoba
PO Box 20024
Newfoundland Herb Association
55 Springdale Street
St. John's, Newfoundland
P.E.I. Medicinal Plants Association
C/o Island Root Company
Western Canadian Organic Herb and Spice Association
PO Box 16
Coriander Seed in Alberta
Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development
Coriander in Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture
Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives