Cooking with Kids – From Seed to Savory

harvest herb seeds

Cilantro seeds, once dried, become coriander!

It’s fall and that means it’s all about harvesting in the gardens. All of our hard work weeding, planting, and watering has paid off with LOTS of garden fresh food! This project is a perfect one to get kids excited about gardening and healthy eats!

One of my absolute favorite plants to grow is cilantro. Cilantro is an herb that tastes amazing in salsa and topping your tacos, but growing cilantro has another special purpose. When the herb finally bolts or flowers, let it go to seed. You will see the bright green seeds at first, but be patient and wait for them to turn brown. you can harvest the seeds for spice with an amazing flavor…coriander!

When I teach gardening to the local elementary school, this is always a favorite project for the children. Of course, whenever food is involved…it’s usually a hit! But this project is fun for the kids because they get a chance to discover something that is often overlooked. When they pick the seeds and grind them up by hand in a mortar and pestle…the smell of the ground coriander spice is so pungent and savory!

What you need:

  • Cilantro plants that have gone to seed
  • A mortar and pestle, spice grinder, or clean coffee bean grinder
  • Scissors
  • Paper bag

How to harvest coriander seeds:

  1. Look for cilantro plants that have gone to seed, especially the seeds that have turned brown.
  2. Using scissors, cut the cilantro plant with seeds intact.
  3. Place clipping with seeds in paper bag.
  4. Secure the bag and let children shake the bag to dislodge the seeds.
  5. Let seeds dry for a week or so placed on a paper towel on a baking tray. Keep it in cool, dry place.
  6. Store in a cool, dry place in a glass jar.

pan fried Okra with coriander

Now what do I do with coriander?

Kids love helping with this part! Put about a ¼ cup of coriander seed in a mortar and pestle or any other spice grinder. Let them work to grind up the spice. You can also put ¼ of sea salt in the grinder to make your own coriander spiced sea salt! Once it is ground, place in a glass container and use on your favorite foods. It goes especially well with Mexican and Indian flavored dishes.


Need a recipe to get started?

Try pan fried okra with seasonal veggies!

This is a recipe I made with the students at my garden classes and I must say…It was a HIT! Many of the students had never had okra before, but had some strong negative opinions. However, once they tried this recipe…they couldn’t get enough!

What you need:

  • Okra
  • Other add-ins to boost the health factor: onions, garlic, tomatoes, kale or any other leafy green
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Ground coriander

What you do:

  1. Toast the coriander on low heat for a few minutes. Remove from heat and grind.
  2. Generously put olive oil in a skillet and put on medium high heat.
  3. Put okra in a bowl and add your desired amount of salt and coriander. Mix together well.
  4. Add okra to the skillet and pan fry for a few minutes per side. Add in other veggies of your choice.

Enjoy as soon as it is cool enough to eat. Scrumptious!


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