Parsley is a member of the carrot family, but a bright green biennial herb; it is also used as a spice in the Middle East. This herb has been cultivated since the Romans times, not only used for culinary purposes, it also has a high herbal medicinal use. In ancient times parsley was used for chaplets (prayer beads) and as a funeral decoration.
Parsley has three leaves on short stems that bunch in threes at the tips of 8in (20cm stalks. The leaves of common parsley are dark green with divided tips that curl tightly (curly leaf parsley), but Italian parsley is lighter in colour and more deeply divided and feathery (Flat leaf parsley).
A common parsley plant can grow from 9 to 18 inches tall and spreads to about 9 inches. Whilst parsley is a biennial, it is often grown as an annual.
Common Curly Parsley Petroselinum crispum
Sow the seeds thinly, you can put them on the top of the soil and water them in, germination will take about two weeks. Parsley can thrive in partly shady areas, this easy to grow herb can withstand poor soil and poor drainage. Pick the parsley leaves when they begin to curl and are a sufficient for your needs.
Parsley is happy in full sun, but can also be grown in dappled shade in most parts of the garden. It need not only be grown in the herb bed or vegetable garden. Its main requirement is a moist but not waterlogged soil, and Parsley is also very suited to growing in containers - especially the more attractive curly leaved form. It also makes for an attractive edge to borders and flower beds.
There is also a variety of Parsley grown for its root - basically a white carrot with a parsley taste!
Being a member of the carrot family, is sometimes suffers damage from the carrot fly larvae. Sometimes gets leaf spot and assorted viruses which are often carried by Aphids - though it rarely suffers from Aphids!
Parsley is the most widely used culinary herb in the world. This slightly peppery flavoured herb is more commonly used as flavouring and garnish. There are more than 30 varieties, and the most popular are curly-leaf or the stronger Italian flat-leaf parsley.
Fresh parsley is available all year round sold in bunches, it is also available dried, but bears little resemblance to the fresh. Parsley Oil can also be made using the stronger Italian leaves. Soak parsley in a marinade of oil and lemon juice, it will improve its taste enhancing properties. When cooking use Italian flat leaf and reserve the English curly variety as a garnish to enhance freshly made salads.
Whilst Parsley Sauce is its main incarnation, freshly chopped parsley can be sprinkled on top of any dish that needs a little bit of 'something different' by way of taste.
Italian - Flat Leaf Parsley
This herb is not just a garnish, it is an incredible source of minerals and vitamins and is high in chlorophyll and, therefore, useful for detoxifying. Parsley has many herbal properties, including being a diuretic, carminative, antispasmodic, expectorant, sedative, anti-rheumatic and antiseptic.
This herb is also used to sooth the urinary tract inflammations, infection and to get rid if excess water in the system, whilst the root is used for dissolving stones from the urinary tract system and the gall. All the parts of parsley can be used to aid digestion and for bronchial and lung problems. The seed of the parsley can be used to treat rheumatic complaints. Parsley tea can help control high blood pressure.
It has a range of nutrient Vitamins and antioxidants. Interestingly, is is a good source of Lycopene -a well-known and accredited antioxidant normally associated with tomato juice.
Parsley should not be used to excess when pregnant, though normal use has been proven safe.