Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region of Southern Europe. While it has been cultivated for more than 2,000 years, parsley was used medicinally prior to being consumed as a food.
Today parsley oil is also extracted from the leaves and stems and used in commercial shampoos, soaps, perfumes and skin lotions.
Parsley is an aromatic herb growing to about a 1 ft (0.3 m) tall and twice as wide. It has bright green multi-compound curly or flat leaves. The leaflets are finely divided and held at the end of long stems and the whole plant has a rounded, mound-like shape.
If allowed to flower, it produces wide, flattened heads of tiny yellowy-green florets from June to August.
There are two main varieties: Flat leaf parsley is mainly used for garnishing purpose as they have a stronger aroma, while curled parsley is used for adding flavor to soups and stews as they blend easily with any type of soup.
Parsley is rich in many vital vitamins, including Vitamin C, B 12, K and A. This means parsley keeps your immune system strong, tones your bones and heals the nervous system. For additional information click on the following link: Parsley
A sprig of parsley can provide much more than a decoration on our plate since its beneficial properties are:
- Asthma treatment
- Bad breath treatment
- Bladder infection prevention and treatment
- Blood tonic and purifier
- Colic treatment
- Constipation problems
- Digestive aid
- Gas reduction
- Immune booster
- Indigestion soother
- Kidney health
- Natural diuretic
Some people apply parsley directly to the skin for cracked or chapped skin, bruises, tumors, insect bites, lice, parasites, and to stimulate hair growth.
HOW TO SELECT AND STORE
Whenever possible, choose fresh parsley over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. Choose fresh parsley that is deep green in color and looks fresh and crisp. Avoid bunches that have leaves that are wilted or yellow as this indicates that they have been on the shelf too long. Like with other dried herbs, if you choose to purchase dried parsley flakes, try to select organically grown parsley since this will give you more assurance that the herbs have not been irradiated.
Fresh parsley should be kept in the refrigerator in a plastic bag. It can also keep it in a jar filled with water if you will be using it soon.
You can also freeze parsley in an ice cube tray and use it as you need it. Although it will retain most of its flavor, it has a tendency to lose its crispness, so it is best used in recipes without first thawing.
Fresh parsley should be washed right before using since it is highly fragile. The best way to clean it is just like you would spinach. Place it in a bowl of cold water and swish it around with your hands. This will allow any sand or dirt to dislodge. Remove the leaves from the water, empty the bowl, refill it with clean water and repeat this process until no dirt remains in the water.
Italian flat leaf parsley holds up better to cooking since it has a stronger flavor than the curly variety and therefore is usually the type preferred for hot dishes. It should be added towards the end of the cooking process so that it can best retain its taste, color and nutritional value.
There are a number of ways that parsley can be enjoyed in foods and beverages. It is widely used as a garnish, condiment, and flavoring. Here are some suggestions:
- Combine chopped parsley with bulgur wheat, chopped green onions (scallions), mint leaves, lemon juice and olive oil to make the Middle Eastern classic dish, tabouli.
- Add parsley to pesto sauce.
- Combine chopped parsley, garlic and lemon zest, and use it as a rub for chicken, lamb and beef.
- Use parsley in soups and tomato sauces and sprinkle on potatoes.
- Chopped parsley can be sprinkled on a host of different recipes, including salads, vegetable sautés and grilled fish.
Parsley is among a small number of foods that contain measurable amounts of oxalates. When oxalates become too concentrated in body fluids, they can crystallize and cause health problems. For this reason, individuals with already existing and untreated kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating parsley. When in doubt consult with your doctor.