It’s no surprise to most that time spent in nature— unplugged from technology and without everyday burdens— can reduce stress. But I bet you didn’t know these facts…
- The actual components of soil may increase serotonin and lead to a decrease in depression! (See the Journal of Neuroscience, 2007)
- Gardening reduces one’s levels of cortisol (the body’s natural stress hormone) and, in turn, can lower levels of anxiety! (Journal of Health Psychology, 2011)
- Exposure to a natural environment— even looking out the window at a natural scene or having potted plants in the room— improves our ability to tolerate stress, think creatively and problem solve! (Journal of Affective Disorders, 2012)
As a token of our appreciation and to inspire people to do something joyful like gardening, Intuition Wellness Center will be distributing over 100 coriander seed packets to teachers and staff at Tucson local schools. These coriander seeds, (when planted with care and joy), will grow into cilantro plants that can be eaten, frozen, or enjoyed simply for their fragrance and the mental health benefits of growing them. We know not everyone has developed their green thumb just yet, so for all of our new friends who are taking home seed packets and to any others inspired by the joy of gardening, here’s some basic “how-to” info on planting coriander seeds, storing cut cilantro leaves, harvesting seeds from your cilantro plant, as well as a quick and easy recipe for a tasty and unconventional cilantro pesto.
How to: Plant Cilantro (Coriander Seeds)
Tucson falls are ideal for growing cilantro! Plant in your garden or make your cilantro a potted plant. Either way, you’re sure to enjoy the refreshing “fruits” of your labor with fall or spring planting.
- Plant seeds just under the surface of the soil in a sunny or light shade location about 6 to 8 inches apart.
- Keep the soil moist.
- From the time of sowing seed, cilantro leaves can begin to be harvested in about 3 to 4 weeks. Cut or pinch the large leaves down about once a week to keep it bushy and productive. Eventually it will flower, signifying it’s nearing the end of it’s lifespan.
- To enjoy cilantro all season long, plant successive sowings every 2 to 3 weeks.
How to: Store Cilantro
Have you ever had trouble keeping fresh herbs fresh? This super easy trick is a surefire way to keep your cilantro perky and tasty for up to two weeks in the fridge!
- Snip off the bottom of the stems.
- Make sure the leaves are completely dry. Better to hold off rinsing them until you’re about to use them.
- Fill a jar or a water glass partially with water and place the stem ends of the herbs into the water in the jar.
- Store in the refrigerator, cover loosely with a plastic bag.
- Change the water after several days if the water starts to discolor.
Cilantro can last up to 2 weeks or longer when stored this way. You can also freeze! Put the leaves in a freezer storage bag and voila!
How to: Harvest Cilantro Seeds
Cilantro is a forgiving and relatively cooperative plant. Though a cilantro plant may not produce new leaves for more than a month or so, it’s so easy to harvest seeds and re-plant, you can still enjoy fresh cilantro all season long!
- When the cilantro grows its stalk, you can either leave it be and let it self-seed or choose to store the seed (called coriander).
- To store coriander seeds, cut off the seed heads when the plant begins to turn brown and put them in a paper bag.
- Hang the bag until the plant dries and the seeds fall off. You can then store the seeds in sealed containers.
Beyond being used to grow a new cilantro plant, coriander seeds are also often used in cooking and are enjoyed for their distinctive flavor!
How to: Make a Fragrant and Refreshing Cilantro Pesto
Prep time: 15min; Cook time: 15 min; Ready to eat: in no time at all!
1 (16 ounce) package pasta of your choice
1 bunch fresh cilantro
3-5 cloves garlic, minced (to your preference)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup walnuts, pecans, or pine nuts
salt to taste
1/4-1/2 cup olive oil (to your preference)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and return water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package instructions.
- In an electric food processor or blender, blend cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, cheese, cayenne pepper, nuts, and salt. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil, and blend the pesto. Add more olive oil until the pesto reaches your desired consistency.
- Pour pesto in a small saucepan and place over low heat, stirring constantly until pesto begins to simmer.
- Pour pesto over cooked pasta and toss. Enjoy!
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Images courtesy of SOMMAI and KEKO64 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net