I harvested all my Italian parsley just before supper, on what had already been a busy domestic Saturday for me that sunny day in September. That is pretty powerful herb!
I guess I didn't think that through because then I spent another two and a half hours on my feet by the sink, just cleaning and sorting the long white roots for freezing and the leaves for drying. However, I'm grateful for this good a harvest. (Ignore the lilies in the photo, if you can).
There are basically two kinds, the curly leafed parsley that garnishes a lot of restaurant dishes, which does not have a big root, and the Italian flat leaf parsley which has a stronger flavour, and that my mom insisted on growing when we could. Some years it would not grow in our garden. But Mom liked to dry or freeze the roots for a stronger flavour in her borschts and soups.
Once I've cleaned the roots, I cram as many as I can into yogurt cups, put each cup into a zip-lock back and throw into the freezer. Then, I just need to expose one cup of roots to the air, when I pull out some for cooking.
You may be more familiar with the curly green leaves that you or a restaurant staff put on top of a dish of food as a garnish. My Mom didn't care about garnishes, but preferred the Italian parsley for the stronger flavour, yet it seems to be a bit more fussy about growing in the garden (some years it hasn't come up at all). Like Mom, I put the roots into the freezer to use for soups and borchts as it adds a much richer flavour than the leaves of curly parsley, and I use the dried and crumbled leaves to add to dishes while working at the stove through the winter.
The following Monday I got to thinking, as I worked on this site, "What if there are other recipes or things to do with parsley?" I decided to do a bit of online research.
Well! I seem to be the last to know! There are ever so many web pages with recipes for things you can do with them, even to making fries of the roots. Huh?! I've copied down some recipes that especially appeal to me from this page; mariquita.com/recipes/parsleyroot.html
In case you are not so hip on parsley either, I'll share a few more things I learned;
Parsley is both pretty AND powerful for it serves as an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, so it has anti-cancer properties, AND it modulates your immune system! So then let's ward off those awful allergies and autoimmune issues. The fact that it is an antiinflammatory means you could take this herb for those swollen and arthritic joints of yours!
I learned this herb can help with folic acid too, which reduces homocysteine, something we want less of because high levels in our blood can adversely affect our blood vessels - increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke. No, we don't want those last two problems.
Our perky, pretty parsley also deals helpfully with our asthma, atherosclerosis, diabetes, and colon cancer.
In fact, it has been known in the Mediterrean area as a medicinal plant for 2000 years, and has only become a food condiment in the last 200-300 years. Well! I live and learn!
I thought I had about exhausted what there was to know about this amazing herb, and then I found still more!
Don't let me discourage you from using parsley as a garnish. Consider it a litle green flag that waves at you, "Look for more of me! Pretty AND POWERFUL for you!"
It carries Vitamin A, C, and K, and bits of folic acid, potassium, iron and fiber, all while it is adding a nice flavour to your food - but 0 calories!
Parsley has no end of health benefits. Now I'm almost afraid to mention more, as it sounds like a 'Wonder Cure' for so much, it hardly seems plausible. I do believe most of this is true. It helps you digest food, lifts your energy level, melts the choloesterol in your veins, it strengthens your bones and teeth, clears up bloating, and even kidney problems.
Now, while parsley is dangerous for a pregnant woman - as it may bring on the baby too soon, at the same time it can prevent your baby from being deformed. What a dilemna! I'm afraid I can't tell you where to draw the line, but it would be wise to consult with your doctor or specialist.
Look! Another great benefit vs. danger with parsley is that it acts like a diuretic to drive excess fluid from your body. That's good if you want to lose that fluid/weight. However, it can drive off more fluid than you can spare, so be careful about prescribing for yourself here. It is NOT advisable to add parsley supplements to your diuretic prescription. They will clash and give you new problems you do NOT want!
So will prescriptions for warfarin and aspirin. Please be careful, as parsley could make those medicines too powerful for you. Over-dosing on this herb can make your skin too sensitive to sunshine - nah! you don't want to stay indoors indefinitely either, do you?
It's green. So it's high in chlorophyll - which detoxes and purifies your blood. It detoxes your liver and kidneys too.
Listen, it also has some special volatile oils which hold back tumors from forming in the lungs. It can cancel out some airborne carcinogens, like those found in cigarettes, or if you grill supper over charcoal. Goodness! God provides hope for those who have let themselves become slaves to smoking! (I must tell my brother this!)
So now that I have a plentiful harvest of parsley, I'm adding it generously to my salads, and my whole wheat bread. When I had gout-like pain in my smallest toe on my right foot, I decided that a cup of tea with this herb might help. Here's how I did it;
1. I put water in my electric kettle to boil.
2. Meanwhile I got down my tea kettle and filled the spice ball in there with fresh (they had not fully dried yet) parsley leaves. I crammed a whole handful in there. Because I could.
I also put a teaspoon of honey in the teapot and left it there until the water was hot.
Then I poured the boiling water over the teaball and honey so that the honey dissolved. I pulled the teaspoon out and put the lid on.
When it had steeped for about ten minutes I poured myself a big mug of parsley tea. It was delicious!
P.S. I finished my first mug of that tea by the computer at noon, and after lunch made another mug full. I nearly finished that by the end of the day at the office. In the evening, I was only vaguely aware of any pain in my little toe. By morning it was all gone!
Alternative Single-cup Parsley Tea: you could just put some parsley leaves in the bottom of your mug, pour over the hot water, and maybe place a saucer over it while it steeps. Then fish out the leaves with a spoon and enjoy your single cup or mug of parsley tea.
Find an Mid-eastern Tobouli recipe; it includes parsley and mint, etc.
Mix it with lemon and mint and rub on chicken and other meats for a wonderful flavour and scent!
Add this herb freely to your soups and tomato sauces too. I do it like Mom did; either cut a fat chunk of root, or if thin, wrap a long one into circles that fit into the spice ball. Add a wad of dill, a chunk of dried ginger root, and maybe some peppercorns, even a bay leaf. Drop the spice ball into the borscht or soup for the cooking duration. Enjoy all the compliments on your flavourful cooking.
Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the benefits that are most commonly known. (Probably why it is used as a garnish - in case someone will eat it). Chew those green leaves to keep you from getting gas in your bowels from the food. It will also clean up your breath.
Personally, I find those parsley garnish leaves have a dry, dusty taste from sitting around in the open so long in the kitchen, etc., so I suggest you swish them in your water glass before you pop them in your mouth. :) (Oops! Maybe you won't want to drink your water after that. So... drag it through your gravy or salad dressing then).