Parsley is a biennial crop, forming a dense rosette of leaves in the first year and flowering in its second summer, when the foliage becomes bitter. This herb has widespread culinary uses and it was once used as fodder for the chariot horses of the Ancient Greeks. Native to the south eastern Mediterranean, parsley is now cultivated in temperate climates throughout the world, and is one of the most popular herbs for growing at home, both in gardens and containers.
I have the most beautiful parsley growing at home but when I got back from work yesterday it was raining so hard I did not want to venture outside.
There are three distinct types of parsley. Probably the most familiar is the curly parsley. The plain leaf types have flat leaf segments. Parsley prefers full morning sun to partial shade and well composted well drained but moist soil. It tolerates fairly acidic to alkaline soil, but if the soil is very acidic incorporate lime before planting.
This herb is grown only from seed and takes 3 to 8 weeks to germinate. You can speed up this process by soaking the seed in warm water overnight before planting into trays or pots. Alternatively, pour freshly boiled water along seed drills just before planting. Cover seed very lightly with soil. Transplant seedlings into the garden (or thin seedlings sown directly into the garden) to around 25 cm apart. Parsley self seeds under suitable conditions. In cold climates, a cloche will warm the soil and allow for earlier planting of seedlings, or even protect a winter crop.
Water regularly or parsley will flower in its first season. Cutting out the emerging flowering stalks will frustrate this process to some extent. New growth comes from the centre of the stem, so harvest leaves from around the outside of plants. Wrap in a plastic bag and store in the freezer. Parsley is not a good herb for drying as it loses much of its flavour. Collect seeds when pale brown. They ripen progressively from the outside or the inflorescence inward. Hang bunches of ripening seed heads upside down inside paper bags. Harvest the roots at the end of the second season and air dry them.
Flat leaf parsley is generally considered to have the best flavour, while the curly variety has a pleasing crunchy texture. Use either as a garnish or in salads, vegetable and egg dishes and sauces. Parsley is essential to many traditional flavouring mixtures, particularly in French cooking. Bouquet garni, a small bunch of pungent herbs for slow cooking, is most often comprised of a bay leaf, sprigs of parsley and sprigs of thyme. Other mixes include persillade which is finely chopped parsley and garlic. Sprinkle them in a dish near the end of its preparation to retain its flavour. The edible root of Hamburg parsley is used in soups and stews and can be roasted or boiled in the same way as other root vegetables. Mitsuba is used in Japanese cooking, in soups, salads, slow cooked dishes and fried foods. Blanch the leaves briefly to tenderize them or add to food at the last moment to preserve the delicate flavour.
See my recipe for salsa verde using flat leaf parsley.
information sourced from The Complete Book of Herbs
What I blogged:
- one year ago – Ginger Beef Patties
- two years ago – Deconstructed Lasagna with Exotic Mushrooms and Broccoli