Preserving Your Parsley Harvest

History of Parsley

Parsley is a native of the Mediterranean region, but, quickly spread throughout the world as a popular culinary essential. To honor the Greek god Archemorus, the herald of death, wreaths of parsley were worn by funeral attendants and the deceased were adorned with the herb before burial. Hercules chose the herb for his victory garland, and, continuing the honored tradition, victorious athletes were crowned with wreaths of woven parsley during the Isthmian Games. Early uses for the herb were mainly as a fodder for horses, but, soon, parsley gained a growing reputation as a culinary herb. Romans were so fond of parsley that garlands were woven with it to present to party guests in an effort to control strong odors and to counter the effects of alcohol.

Due to the long germination time of parsley seeds, in European folklore it was believed that the tap root went down to the devil seven times before it would be able to grow! Other lore contends that parsley seeds must be planted on Good Friday in order to assure a bountiful harvest through the summer.

Parsley is rich in Vitamin C, actually containing more of the vitamin per volume than an orange! It is easily grown in a deep pot on a sunny windowsill, patio or porch in rich, moist soil within easy reach of the cook's shears. It is one of the ingredients in two classic herb combinations, "fine herbs" and "bouquet garni", used by chefs throughout the world.

Culinary Uses of Parsley

Parsley is one of main ingredients in the classic Fines Herbes herb combination used in French and European cuisine and is an essential herb in Italian cooking. It is flavorful raw and when combined with vegetables when cooked, it imparts a wonderful flavor. It goes well with fish and meat and can be used in marinades, salad dressings, tomato dishes...the list is almost endless. The root can be eaten raw like a carrot or cooked in soups and stews to add a hint of parsley to the stock.

Medicinal Uses of Parsley

Herbalists have considered a tea made of parsley as an aid to digestion and bladder problems. It is considered a tonic for the liver and kidneys and is believed to help with rheumatism and excess gas.

Hair rinses can be made from crushed parsley seeds or leaves soaked in hot water to make a "tea", which can be poured over you hair as a final leave-in rinse. It is even reputed that if you pour a strong tea made from the crushed seed onto your hair and leave in for 30 to 45 minutes, it will kill head lice.

WARNING: DO NOT USE PARSLEY MEDICINALLY IF YOU ARE PREGNANT!

Harvesting Parsley

Preserving Parsley

Drying Parsley

Traditional Drying Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Garden or Kitchen shears

Basket or other container suitable for parsley sprigs

Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels

Rubber Bands

Clothes Drying Rack, Dry attic or porch

Small Brown Paper Bags (optional)

Parsley looses some of its distinctive flavor when dried, but, it is still used extensively in sauces, salads, soups and other culinary dishes from around the world.

1. Gather your parsley harvest in the morning hours after the sun has dried away the dew of the night.

2. Gather the sprigs into loose bundles and secure the stems with rubber bands to assure that the bundles stay together as they dry.

3. If using brown paper bags, cover each bundle with the bags that have slits cut into the sides to allow for adequate air flow around the herbs. The paper bags keep dust off of the parsley as it dries and the sunlight from bleaching out the color. Care must be taken to make sure that enough air flows through the bag to keep the parsley from molding. Check occasionally to make sure, and, if need be either cut more holes in the bags or remove them. Sometimes the moisture builds up inside the bag, especially if the sun hits it, allowing fungus and mildew to form.

4. Hang upside down in a warm, dry place such as an attic or porch until the leaves are brittle to the touch, approximately 2 weeks.

5. Gather the dried bundles and place on a sheet of wax paper.

6. Crumble the dried leaves and separate out all of the tough stems onto the wax paper.

7. Store in an air tight container in the pantry for use in cooking.

Quick Drying Method

Parsley can be dried in the oven at the lowest temperature, or, if you have a gas stove with a pilot light, spread out on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper in a single layer.

Special Note: If using cookie sheets to dry the herbs, place the herbs to be dried on parchment paper to avoid direct contact with the metal trays. Metal contact darkens the color of the herb being dried, causing the parsley to loose its bright green color.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels

Kitchen shears or good chopping knife

Chopping board or block

Parchment Paper

Cookie Sheet

Oven

1. Wash and gently spin dry the fresh parsley sprigs.

2. Pick out the discolored leaves and woody stems.

3. Preheat your oven to lowest temperature setting.

4. Chop or clip herbs into 1/4" pieces or so onto parchment lined cookie sheet.

5. Place in oven on top rack for 2 to 4 hours or until parsley crumbles easily between your fingers. Drying times may vary according climate conditions and relative humidity.

6. Gather up the parchment paper into a funnel and place smallest end over the mouth of a clean, completely dry jar and seal tightly.

STORAGE: Place jar in a dry, dark place such as your kitchen cabinet, pantry or even your freezer.

Freezing Parsley

Ice Cube Method

The traditional method of freezing parsley is to chop the parsley up fine and suspend the chopped herbs in a little water before freezing.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Salad Spinner or two clean absorbent kitchen towels

Kitchen shears or chopping knife and chopping board

Ice Cube trays

Measuring spoons

INGREDIENTS:

Chopped Parsley

Fresh tap water

1. Pick through the fresh parsley removing damaged leaves and tough stems and rinse. Gently spin dry or pat dry between two kitchen towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

2. Chop up the parsley, removing tough stems, and place a teaspoon or two into each compartment of the ice cube trays.

3. Top off with water and freeze in the freezer.

STORAGE: Once the ice cubes have frozen, remove the herbed cubes and store in an air tight freezer bag or jar in your freezer.

USES: These parsley ice cubes can be used in sauces and soups. To use in the parsley as fresh in salad dressings or dishes with little liquid content, place the cube in a glass of room temperature water until melted and strain through a sieve to remove the parsley from the water. Add to the recipe as required.

Vacuum Sealer Method

This method allows for great color, texture and flavor retention by keeping the sprigs whole and air tight.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Vacuum sealer with appropriate bag material

Salad Spinner or clean absorbent kitchen towels

Kitchen shears or paring knife

1. Wash and gently spin dry or blot with kitchen towels to remove excess moisture.

2. Snip or cut off tough woody stems and discolored or damaged leaves.

3. Make a bag from the roll material large enough to hold the sprigs of parsley and allow space between the herb and the final seal and seal one end.

4. Label bag with contents and date sealed.

5. Place herb sprigs into the bag.

6. Place bag end into the sealer and vacuum seal.

7. Place in the freezer flat. After the bags have frozen solid, they can be stored upright, taking up little space in the freezer.

Parsley Herbed Vinegar

Cold Method

This method uses the bottle that the vinegar is purchased in, so be sure to buy a high quality vinegar with an attractive glass bottle.

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

1 bottle of good quality apple cider or wine vinegar

Small bowl

3 or 4 sprigs of fresh parsley, washed and patted dry

1 clove garlic, optional

3 or 4 pepper corns, optional

1. Pour a small amount (approximately /2 cup) of the vinegar into a small clean bowl to reserve for later use after the herb sprigs have been added.

2. Place the fresh parsley sprigs in the bottle of vinegar.

3. Top off to fill the bottle with the reserved vinegar and seal tightly.

4. Place the bottle on a sunny window sill for two weeks, gently shaking the bottle every day or so to mix the flavors of the herbs.

5. Soak off the manufacturer label and relabel with a decorative label.

STORAGE: These herbed vinegars are quite attractive and can be stored on the counter top, pantry or kitchen cupboard.

USES: This flavored vinegar is great in marinades for meat and poultry, in salad dressings and many other recipes requiring vinegar.

Hot Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Small Bowl

Wooden Spoon

Fresh Parsley Sprigs

Chopping knife and chopping board

Large clean wide mouth jar with tight fitting lid

Sheet of plastic wrap

Medium stainless steel or enamel sauce pan

Good quality apple cider or wine vinegar

Cheese cloth

Funnel

INGREDIENTS:

2 cups of apple cider or wine vinegar

1 cup of chopped parsley

1. Place the chopped leaves in the bowl and gently crush with a wooden spoon.

2. Heat one cup of the vinegar until warm, but do not boil.

3. Pour hot vinegar over the crushed parsley in the bowl and stir to mix well.

4. Crush the parsley a little more to release the herb oils.

5. Leave to cool.

6. When cooled, add the remaining cup of vinegar and pour into a large jar and cap tightly.

7. Place on a sunny window sill and shake every day or so to distribute the flavors for two weeks.

8. Store as is or pour through a double layer of cheese cloth into a funnel over a clean decorative bottle.

9. Add a fresh sprig of parsley into the bottle for decoration and identification purposes.

10. Label and store in the pantry, cupboard or counter top.

Parsley Infused Oil

Cold Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Salad Spinner or clean kitchen towels

Medium bowl

Wooden spoon

Large wide mouth jar

Good quality extra virgin olive oil

Fresh Parsley sprigs

1/4 or 1/2 dry measuring cups

2 cup liquid measuring cup

Cheese cloth

Funnel

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 to 1/2 cup of parsley leaves

2 cups of extra virgin olive oil

1. Pick the freshest herbs, wash and gently spin dry or blot between two kitchen towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

2. Place the Parsley leaves in the bowl and crush slightly with the back of the wooden spoon to release plant flavors.

3. Pour half (1 cup) of the oil over the bruised leaves.

4. Stir and crush again slightly to release more of the plant oils.

5. Add remaining cup of oil and stir well to blend.

6. Pour into the large mouth jar and cap tightly.

7. Set on a sunny window sill for two weeks, shaking gently every day or so to mix the flavors.

8. Strain oil slowly through a double layer of cheese cloth set into a large funnel in the opening of a clean decorative bottle and cap tightly.

9. Add a few fresh sprigs of parsley for decoration and identification purposes and label.

STORE: Keep the flavored oils out of direct sunlight in a kitchen cupboard or pantry. Oils tend to go rancid if left in the sun too long. The shelf life of flavored oils is approximately six months.

Hot Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Medium kitchen bowl

Wooden Spoon

Medium stainless steel or enamel sauce pan

2 cup or larger liquid measuring cup

1/4 or 1/2 cup dry measuring cup

Large wide mouth jar

Cheese cloth

Funnel

Decorative bottle

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 to 1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley

2 cups of extra virgin olive oil

1. Wash and spin dry or pat between two kitchen towels to remove excess moisture.

2. Pick out tough stems and damaged or discolored leaves.

3. Trim and chop parsley and measure 1/3 to 1/2 cup, depending on the intensity of the flavor desired.

4. Place chopped parsley into the bowl and crush slightly with the wooden spoon.

5. Pour one cup of the oil into the sauce pan and heat, but do not boil.

6. Pour heated oil over the crushed parsley in the bowl and stir with the wooden spoon to mix well.

7. Slowly add remaining oil into the bowl and stir to mix.

8. Once cooled, place in the large mouth jar and seal tightly.

9. Place jar on sunny window sill for two weeks, gently shaking the bottle every day or so to blend the flavors.

10. Slowly pour the liquid a little at a time into a funnel lined with a double layer of cheese cloth set on the top of a clean decorative bottle and cap tightly.

11. Add a few fresh sprigs for decoration and identification and label, including the date.

USES: Flavored oils can be used in almost every recipe that uses oil, from meat, poultry or fish marinades, sautes, sauces, and salad dressings.

STORAGE: These oils will store up to six months in a dark cupboard or pantry.

Parsley Herbed Butter

Hand Mixed Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Clean Kitchen Towel

Small Bowl

Kitchen shears or chopping board and knife

Wooden Spoon

Ice cube trays, small muffin tins, or wax paper

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2" to 2 1/2 tablespoons of chopped parsley

1 stick (1/4 pound or 8 tablespoons) of softened butter

1. Set the butter out to soften to room temperature.

2. Wash the Parsley sprigs and pat dry with the kitchen towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

3. Remove tough stems and discolored or damaged leaves and chop fine.

4. Place into the small bowl and add the soft butter.

5. Combine the chopped parsley and the softened butter and mix well with the wooden spoon.

6. Divide the herb butter mixture by 1 tablespoon into the small muffin tin or ice cube tray compartments and freeze. After the butter has hardened, remove the butter cubes from the ice trays and store in an air tight container such as a freezer bag or jar.

If you prefer, you can dump the butter mixture onto a sheet of wax paper and form the butter into a roll as it cools. Wrap in a double layer of wax paper, twist the ends and freeze. When you need the butter, slice while frozen into pieces and serve over steamed potatoes, fish dishes and a large variety of other recipes requiring butter.

Food Processor Method

EQUIPMENT REQUIRED:

Food Processor fitted with the chopping blade

Clean Kitchen Towel

Spatula

Wax Paper

Ice cube trays, small muffin tins, or wax paper

INGREDIENTS:

3 or 4 sprigs of Parsley

1 stick (8 tablespoons or 1/4 cup) butter, softened to room temperature

Grind or two of fresh pepper, if desired

1. Wash and pat dry the parsley sprigs, picking out the tough stems and discolored or damaged leaves and discard.

2. Separate the leafy green leaves of the parsley from the stems and place in the bowl of the food processor.

3. Pulse the food processor blade five or six times to chop the parsley fine, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally to make sure that the parsley is chopped fine throughout.

4. Add the softened butter to the herb in the processor and pulse, scraping the bowl occasionally between pulses to ensure a thorough mixture.

5. Remove from the processor bowl by tablespoons and fill the ice tray or small muffin tin compartments and place in the freezer.

6. Once the butter has frozen, remove from the trays and store in an air tight container in your freezer.

7. An alternative method would be to scrape the mixed butter out of the bowl onto wax paper and form into a roll as it cools. Double wrap the roll in wax paper and twist the ends to seal tight.

8. Freeze the roll in the freezer and remove to slice into portions when required.

USES: Herbed Parsley butter is great on potatoes, poultry, fish, toasted garlic bread, rice, and a large variety of savory dishes.