Eat the garnish!! Parsley (Petroselinum crispum and Petroselinum crispum var neapolitanum (flat leaf)) of the Umbelliferae family is hardly just a garnish.
Description: Soft, rounded, leafy mound. Height 2-3 feet; width 10 inches. Flowers are green-yellow in umbels. Leaves are divided, feathery with strong aroma. Fruit is oval and compressed. The long taproot is spindly, thick and resembles small parsnips. Blooms in the second summer.
Cultivation: Two types: curly and Italian (flat leaf) A biennial hardy to Zone 3. Germination is from 2-3 weeks but can sometimes take 2 months. Presoak to hasten. Space 6-10 inches. Soil should be fairly rich, moist, and well drained especially in winter with a pH of 6-8 and soil temperature of 70o. Full sun or partial shade. Parsley is a slow germinator. It’s been said that it goes to the devil nine times and back before it sprouts and that a pregnant woman planting it speeds germination. Propagate by seed which can be planted 2 weeks before the last frost. Fertilize the seed row where you intend to raise the parsley. Mark the row to a depth of 1/2 inch and sow the seed (without presoaking) at 1/2 inch intervals. Cover the furrow with sand, then moisten thoroughly. Now cut a 1-inch x 6-inch wood plank to the length of the row and thoroughly soak the board. Cover the row with the wet board, which will keep the seed moist and in place, at the same time preventing weeds from taking hold and keeping the ground from cooling too much at night. After the first two weeks, lift up the board every day to water, if necessary. As soon as seedlings appear, remove the board. Difficult to transplant unless small. Seedlings can tolerate a light frost. In the second year, parsley produces broad flower clusters. Cut these as soon as they begin to form to get more leaf production. “Parsleyworm” may be treated with bacillus thuringiensis; spider mites and aphids may be treated with insecticidal soap. Good companion to tomatoes and roses. Occasional light feedings of fish emulsion or manure; compost mulch especially during the winter and summer.
Dry quickly in order to prevent leaves from yellowing. Take leaves off the stems and spread on a cookie sheet and place in a 400F oven. Do not close the door completely and turn them every 5 minutes. In about 15 minutes the majority will be crisp. When cooled thoroughly pack into jars. Do not just hang dry as it simply yellows. Parsley ice cubes are made by packing a 2 cup container with destemmed leaves. Fill the cup with water, about 1½ cups, and place in the blender. Whirl it till you have a green puree. Pour into an empty ice cube tray, replace the divider and freeze in refrigerator or freezer. When hard remove and put cubes in a plastic bag or freezer container. Label them before storing.
The root was dug up, washed, split lengthwise and dried at temperatures up to 72F. It has a distinctive aromatic smell and initially sweet, but later bitter taste. To extract the fruits the umbels are cut off shortly before they ripen, bundled, and hung up to ripen. They smell spicy and have an aromatic burning taste.
History: Held in high esteem by the Greeks, parsley was used to crown victors at the Isthmian Games and to decorate tombs, being linked with Archemorus, the herald of death. The Greeks also planted parsley and rue along the edges of herb beds, thereby instigating the expression “being at the parsley and rue,” meaning to be at the start of an enterprise. Although the Greeks used parsley medicinally, and Homer recorded that warriors fed parsley to their horses, it appears that the Romans were the first to use it as a food. They consumed parsley in quantity and made garlands for banquet guests to discourage intoxication and to counter strong odors. Petros selinon (rock celery) which could refer to parsley’s ability to relieve kidney and bladder stones.
Parsley is one of the first herbs to appear in spring and has been used for centuries in the Seder, the ritual Jewish Passover meal, as a symbol of new beginnings.
In European folklore, parsley’s notoriously slow germination period gave rise to the superstition that its roots went down to the devil seven times before the plant would grow.
Constituents: Parsley oil comprises about 0.1% of the root, about 0.3% of the leaf and 2%-7% of the fruit. Essential oil includes apiol, apiolin, myristicin, pinene; flavonoids (apigenin); glycoside; vitamins A,C; minerals (iron, manganese, calcium, phosphorus); protein. Parsley contains psoralen and related compounds that can induce photosensitivity; these include ficusin, bergapten, majudin and heraclin.
Properties: diuretic, carminative, anthelmintic, stimulant, emmenagogue (especially the seeds), expectorant
Energetics: sweet, bland, neutral
Meridians/Organs affected: lung, stomach, bladder, liver
Medicinal Use: Chew the leaf raw to freshen the breath and promote healthy skin. Infuse for a digestive tonic. Bruised leaves have been used to treat tumors, insect bites, lice and skin parasites and contusions. Parsley tea at one time was used to treat dysentery and gallstones. Other traditional uses reported include the treatment of diseases of the prostate, liver and spleen, in the treatment of anemia, arthritis and cancers, and as an expectorant, antimicrobial, aphrodisiac, hypotensive, laxative and as a scalp lotion to stimulate hair growth. Use in a poultice as an antiseptic dressing for sprains, wounds and insect bites. Decoct the root for kidney troubles and as a mild laxative. Apply juice to reduce swellings. It also stimulates appetite and increases blood flow to digestive organs, as well as reducing fever. Another constituent, the flavonoid apigenin, reduces inflammation by inhibiting histamine and is also a free-radical scavenger. The seed, when decocted, has been used for intermittent fevers. It has also traditionally used as a carminative to decrease flatulence and colic pain. The seeds have a much stronger diuretic action than the leaves and may be substituted for celery seeds in the treatment of gout, rheumatism and arthritis. It is often included in “slimming” teas because of its diuretic action. Oil of the seed (5-15 drops) has been used to bring on menstruation. Avoid if weak kidneys.
Infusion: Pour a cup of boiling water on 1-2 tsp of the dried herb and leave to infuse for 5-10 minutes in a closed container. Drink 3 times a day
Tincture: Take 2-4ml 3 times a day
HOMEOPATHIC USES: Used for very itchy hemorrhoids, as well as for urinary complaints such as a deep itch in the urinary tract, and gonorrhea with a sudden urge to urinate and a milky discharge.
Toxicity: Do not use during pregnancy in medicinal dosage
EXTRACTION: essential oil by steam distillation from the seed and the herb. An essential oil is occasionally extracted from the roots; an oleoresin is also produced by solvent extraction from the seeds.
CHARACTERISTICS: A yellow, amber or brownish liquid with a warm woody-spicy herbaceous odor. A pale yellow or greenish liquid with a heavy, warm, spicy-sweet odor, reminiscent of the herb.
BLENDS WELL WITH: rose, orange blossom, cananga, tea tree, oakmoss, clary sage and spice oils
ACTIONS: antimicrobial, antirheumatic, antiseptic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, drpurative, emmenagogoue, febrifuge, hypotensive, laxative, stimulant (mild), stomachic, tonic (uterine)
CONSTITUENTS: Seed: mainly apiol, with myristicin, tetramethoxyally-benzene, pinene and volatile fatty acids. Herb: Mainly myristicin with phellandrene, myrcene, apiol, terpenolene, menthatriene, pinene and carotel, among others.
Circulation, Muscles and Joints: accumulation of toxins, arthritis, broken blood vess4els, cellulites, rheumatism, sciatica
Digestive System: colic, flatulence, indigestion, hemorrhoids
Genito-urinary system: amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, to aid labor, cystitis, urinary infections.
Other uses: used in some carminative and digestive remedies, such as ‘gripe waters’. The seed oil is used in soaps, detergents, colognes, cosmetics and perfumes, especially men’s fragrances. The herb and seed oil as well as the oleoresin are used extensively in many types of food flavorings, especially meats, pickles and sauces, as well as alcoholic and soft drinks.
Ritual Uses: Used in funeral rites and celebrations of victory by the Greeks; held sacred to Persephone. Used in baby blessing rites. It was once believed that the mere tossing of fresh parsley into a pond would heal fish. Sacred to Venus and to Aphrodite, parsley used for success and romance should be gathered on a Friday beneath a waxing Moon. For magickal purposes the dried, powdered greens may be used and the root may also be harvested. When used as a bathing herbe, Parsley brings communion with the second aspect of the Goddess, that of the loving mother of the universe. This procedure is highly recommended for a woman who is with child and desires a healthy pregnancy. The Greeks and Romans believed that parsley would improve the agility and speed of their horses. Parsley may be fed to one’s horses today to bring them good fortune and success.
Language of Flowers: feast; banquet; festivity; joy; victory; “The woman of the house is boss.”
Cosmetic Use: Infuse the leaf as a hair tonic and conditioner. Add to facial steam and lotion for dry skin and to minimize freckles. Use infusion as a soothing eyebath. The essence from the seeds is used in the manufacture of certain strong, masculine scents.
Elderflower and Parsley Lotion:
Handful of elderflower blossoms
3-4 sprigs of parsley
½ pint soft water
Wash the elderflower blooms and parsley and place in a clean bowl. Cover with half a pint of boiling water and allow to infuse for three to four hours. Strain, bottle, label and refrigerate. Apply to freckles with cotton ball.
Dye: 4 bunches parsley
¼ lb alum mordanted wool
1 ½ gal water
Cover the parsley with water and boil for ¾ hour. Strain out the plant material and add enough water to make about 1 ½ gallons. Enter the wet premordanted wool and raise the temperature to simmer. Simmer for 1 hour Cool and rinse till the water runs clear. Color: soft yellow
Culinary Use: It has a faint peppery tang with a green apple aftertaste. A prime ingredient in French fines herbes along with chervil, tarragon and chives. Add raw to salads. Finely chop and sprinkle over sandwiches, egg dishes, vegetable soups, fish and boiled potatoes. Add to mayonnaise and many sauces. When cooked, parsley enhances other flavors, but add towards end of cooking time. Use in bouquet garni. Use the root of Hamburg parsley in soups and stews. Boil as a root vegetable. Grate raw into salads. Add it to baby carrots that have been candied in unsalted butter, brown sugar and fresh ginger. Add it to pasta dough, biscuit dough, crepe batter, dumpling batter or bread dough. Add parsley and chopped scallions to mashed potatoes or rice or orzo. Mix it with soft cheeses, such as ricotta or cottage cheese. If adding parsley to long cooking soups and stews, add the stems first and the chopped leaves at the end. If left in a sauce too long, the sauce will turn green.
Be sure to wash parsley thoroughly because grit and soil hide easily.
Fresh Mushroom, Parsley, and Radish Salad
1 garlic clove, pressed
8 large white mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/3 cup minced fresh parsley
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of chopped fresh basil leaves
salt and fresh ground pepper
6 cups mixed salad greens: arugula, chicory, oak leaf lettuce, Bibb lettuce
1/3 cup finely chopped radishes
Place the garlic, mushrooms, parsley, lemon juice, and oil in a glass bowl and toss with the basil. Salt and pepper to taste. Marinate at least 30 minutes. Add the greens and toss. Sprinkle with the radishes and serve. (Herbal Salads)
Ella’s Parsley Soup
2 medium potatoes, cubed
3 cups stock
2 large onions, thinly sliced
2 Tbsp butter
¼ cup minced parsley
In a medium saucepan cook the potatoes in stock until tender, about 20 minutes. In a frying pan over low heat, cook the onions in butter until they are tender. Add onions and parsley to potatoes. If desired, pureé part or all of the soup. (Cooking with the Healthful Herbs)
Sweet Potato and Parsley Salad
6 cooked sweet potatoes, about 2 1/2 lbs
1 small onion, diced fine
1 medium celery rib, diced fine
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tsp soy sauce
1/2 cup coarse-chopped parsley
leaves from 4 or 5 marjoram sprigs, chopped or 1 tsp crumbled dried marjoram
salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup freshly toasted cashew nuts, optional
Peel the sweet potatoes, then cut them into 1/2 inch dice. Place them in a large bowl with the onion and celery. Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, and soy sauce in a small bowl. Stir in the parsley and marjoram. Season the dressing with salt and pepper. Toss it with the sweet potatoes and adjust the seasoning. Just before serving, sprinkle the salad with the toasted cashew nuts. The salad may be served warm or at room temperature. (Herbs in the Kitchen)
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