Preserving Homegrown Organic Coriander

My husband deserves full credits for this project. He loves fresh coriander in everything, from salads to seafood fillings in ravioli. It was his idea to process enormous quantities of fresh coriander, kindly offered by our family friends from their completely organic garden with technically sophisticated, elevated garden beds. We had 5 huge plants, 40-50 cm tall, with both tender leaves, quite hard stems and intact roots. I am happy to report that nothing went to waste. Foliage, stems and roots were processed separately for different uses.

My husband wanted to make a paste that can be stored for up to 1-2 weeks refrigerated, that would allow to preserve the fresh taste of coriander without adding too much or extra flavours. Thus, minimum salt and oil, and no garlic would be used to make this paste. Limited quantities of pine nuts, that are usually used as one of the ingredients for pesto, were added to make spreadable texture of the paste. To make the paste for a longer storage, quantities of pine nuts, oil and salt were increased and lemon juice added. With such an abundance of coriander I wanted to experiment and to make a combined herb and spice preserve, which included garlic, sweet and hot chilli, together with pine nuts, with reasonable quantity of oil, which I usually add to my garlic and chilli paste in absolute minimal amount (1 tea spoon for the food processor bowl).

Recipes below can be considered free range, as quantities of ingredients can vary. Quantity of salt can differ depending on the type of salt you use and how salty you want the paste to be. Amount of oil depends on how juicy coriander leaves are and how efficient your blender is.

Recipe 1

for coriander paste/spread to be used generously on toast, sandwiches, omelettes, etc.

  • bowl of coriander leaves, no stems (120-150g)
  • sea salt, 3-5g
  • pine nuts, 50-70g
  • oil, we used organic walnut oil, 50g

A portion of the paste we kept refrigerated in a glass container. The rest was frozen in small quantities for longer storage.

Recipe 2

with higher salt content and lemon juice added to allow longer storage without freezing

  • 200g coriander leaves with some tender stems
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 70g organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 20-25ml lemon juice
  • 10g Saxa sea salt, non-iodised
  • good pinch of coarse black pepper

Recipe 3

mixed coriander, garlic, sweet and hot chilli paste with pine nuts

  • 150g coriander leaves with tender stems
  • 100g pine nuts
  • 3 red sweet chilli peppers
  • 1 bird’s eye chilli
  • 1 garlic head
  • 20ml lemon juice
  • 30ml walnut oil
  • 10g sea salt
  • pinch of black pepper

Preparation:

  • separate hard stems from tender stems and leaves
  • carefully wash coriander and dry it on paper towel
  • blend ingredients until paste texture
  • to be on the safe side add salt gradually
  • freshly made paste tastes salty and a touch bitter, bitterness goes away within 30-60 minutes after preparation
  • for more fine texture use stick blender to finish the paste
  • wash and dry coriander stems
  • pack them in zip-lock bag and use when making broth, casseroles and other dishes with meat or poultry

  • stems can be blended with salt and some oil, frozen in the shape of ice cubes and used in cooking as needed

For a person who actively disliked pesto taste and even smell, and would never be talked into having anything with it, participation in this project was with reluctance. However, working with different products that I never liked, and discovering how much I can enjoy them in unusual combinations and may be not traditional recipes, taught me to keep an open mind for everything. It is easy to guess, that I loved all of the products so much, that not a single meal now goes without them. I am afraid, we would not be able to test how long the paste could last, we are going to finish it quite soon. Some glimpses of the dishes we used coriander paste in.

Lamb and vegetables wrap rolls (shown for illustration only)

Gluten free pasta with zucchini, caramelised onion and roasted pine nuts  (shown for illustration only), probably the best pasta I ever had.

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