The Herb Parsley.
Parsley, parsely everywhere. What is this love affair with parsley all about?
Petroselinum Crispum – Parsley.
I love a sandwich of wholemeal bread with slices of ham sprinkled generously with chopped parsley and sage – a tasty and health-giving combination.
I suppose parsley is one of the more ubiquitous herbs to be found in the kitchen, yet rarely is parsely used to its full potential.
Parsley from Europe.
Parsley might have originated in Persia (hence it’s name). It was certainly an inhabitant of early southern Europe but is now found throughout the European Continent. Like so many other useful things, parsley was introduced to Britain by the Romans – to whom we should be forever grateful. The dark-green curly leaves quickly gained a reputation as a tasty and useful culinary herb – but we now know that parsley goes beyond that – the leaves contain vitamins A and C, plus essential minerals and iron – good stuff indeed.
There are three main varieties of parsley that are grown in the garden.
The most common variety of parsley to be found in Britain is the ‘curled’ or ‘garden’ parsley that is such a wonderful additive for soups and salads. It is also a common ingredient of bouquet garni.
The next most popular variety is the ‘Italian’ or ‘French’ parsley, which has darker, flatter leaves and a slightly stronger flavour. An infusion of this herb is said to revive the appetite.
The third variety of parsley – the large turnip-root or ‘Hamburg’ parsley – is less widely grown and known. It is generally used either as a root vegetable or as an infusion to aid rheumatism.
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Parsley is biennial but is at its best grown on an annual basis. Small flowers appear in the second year, but you should take this to mean that it is past its sell-by date and as such should be discarded.
By planting parsley seeds at frequent intervals, you ought to be able to pick parsley leaves all the year round – in particular if you protect the plants from frost with a cloche.
Parsley can be directly sown on site, propagated in seed containers and transplanted at a later date, or grown indoors in small pots by the kitchen window. Parsley seeds can be sluggish to germinate and they are most successful when the soil is warm and moist. Soaking the parsley seeds carefully in lukewarm water for a couple of hours or so before planting will help germination.
Uses of Parsely
Add chopped parsley to liven up a salad.
Finely chop and sprinkle parsley leaves on sandwiches, egg dishes, soups, fish, and potatoes.
Parsley is an ingredient in many classic sauces.
Add small sprigs of parsley to almost any dish as a colourful and interesting garnish.
Taken medicinally, parsley is often used as a tea infusion – add 1 teaspoonful of fresh parsley leaves to a cup of boiling water.
Parsley tea is valuable for cleansing the urinary system and is a first-rate treatment for kidney and bladder complaints.
Chewing on parsley will sweeten the breath, and in particular has been said to offset the smell of garlic.
A parsley tea infusion aids digestion.
Parsley is a mild diuretic and can be taken by those suffering from fluid retention and for helping with arthritis and osteoarthritis.
A parsley tea infusion will help restore appetite.
Cultivation of Parsley
Lifespan – Hardy biennial – but better treated as an annual
Height – 60 cm ( 2ft)
Site – Full sun – light shade.
Soil – Rich and moist. Slightly alkaline and well drained.
Growing – Sow parsley seeds from spring to late summer. Water well. Cover parsley with a cloche in winter. Can be grown indoors.
Harvesting – Pick parsley leaves as required.
Preserving – Dry or freeze the leaves. Dry parsley seeds for infusions
15g (1/2oz) chopped fresh parsley
½ teaspoon lemon juice
1 whole nutmeg
250 ml (8 fl oz) Béchamel Sauce or white sauce
Place half the parsley in a small heatproof bowl and add just enough boiling water to cover. Let stand for 5 minutes then strain, reserving the liquid.
Place lemon juice in a small bowl. Grate in the nutmeg to taste. Add reserved parsley liquid and stir well.
Pour into hot Béchamel Sauce and mix through. Add remaining parsley.
Serve hot with seafood or vegetables
– End of The Herb Parsley –
Written by ajbarnett
Novelist, short story writer, Author of JUST ABOUT WRITE and WITHOUT REPROACH. A Brit now living in Spain
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