Taste and smell

Different people may perceive the taste of coriander leaves differently. Those who like it say it has a refreshing, lemony or lime-like flavor, while those who dislike it have a strong aversion to its taste and smell, likening it to that of soap and bugs. Twin studies have shown that 80% of identical twins shared the same preference for the herb, but fraternal twins agreed only about half the time, strongly suggesting a genetic component to the preference. In a genetic survey of nearly 30,000 people, two genetic variants linked to perception of coriander have been found, the most common of which is a gene involved in sensing smells. The gene, OR6A2, lies within a cluster of olfactory-receptor genes, and encodes a receptor that is highly sensitive to aldehyde chemicals. Flavor chemists have found that the coriander aroma is created by a half-dozen or so substances, and most of these are aldehydes. Those who dislike the taste are sensitive to the offending unsaturated aldehydes, while simultaneously may also be unable to detect the aromatic chemicals that others find pleasant. Association between its taste and several other genes, including a bitter-taste receptor, have also been found.


Coriander plants

Coriander grows wild over a wide area of the Near East and southern Europe, prompting the comment, "It is hard to define exactly where this plant is wild and where it only recently established itself." Fifteen desiccated mericarps were found in the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B level of the Nahal Hemar Cave in Israel, which may be the oldest archaeological find of coriander. About half a litre of coriander mericarps were recovered from the tomb of Tutankhamen, and because this plant does not grow wild in Egypt, Zohary and Hopf interpret this find as proof that coriander was cultivated by the ancient Egyptians.

Coriander seems to have been cultivated in Greece since at least the second millennium BC. One of the Linear B tablets recovered from Pylos refers to the species as being cultivated for the manufacture of perfumes, and it appears that it was used in two forms: as a spice for its seeds and as a herb for the flavour of its leaves. This appears to be confirmed by archaeological evidence from the same period: the large quantities of the species retrieved from an Early Bronze Age layer at Sitagroi in Macedonia could point to cultivation of the species at that time.

Coriander was brought to the British colonies in North America in 1670, and was one of the first spices cultivated by early settlers.

Nutrition Facts
Cilantro leaves

Amount Per 0.25 cup (4 g)
9 sprigs (20 g)
Calories 1

% Daily Value*
Total Fat                       0 g       0%
Saturated fat               0 g       0%
Polyunsaturated fat   0 g
Monounsaturated fat 0 g
Cholesterol                   0 mg   0%
Sodium                         2 mg    0%
Potassium                    21 mg  0%
Total Carbohydrate    0.2 g     0%
Dietary fiber                0.1 g     0%
Sugar                            0 g
Protein                         0.1 g      0%

Vitamin A 5%    Vitamin C 1%
Calcium 0%       Iron 0%
Vitamin D 0%    Vitamin B-6 0%
Vitamin B-12 0%    Magnesium 0%