Curly Leaf Parsley
Flat Leaf Parsley
Parsley is a biennial plant – lasting two years before needing to be replaced. The Flat leafed variety may last longer – up to 4 years. There are two common varieties – the Curly-leafed and the Italian or Flat-leafed one. Italian Parsley grows taller than the Curly and both have a long tap root. There is a variety called Hamburg Parsley which is grown for the root only. The long roots resemble parsnips and are eaten like them.
Properties: Parsley leaves and roots are a rich source of vitamins and minerals. Parsley is a strong diuretic and is often used in the treatment of kidney and bladder problems. It is a good source of anti-oxidants and contains a powerful anticancer compound as well. Parsley can ease menstrual cramps, headaches and tension. It is a great digestive aid and used in the form of a tea as a health tonic. Parsley has also been used in lotions as a freshener for the skin and to reduce puffiness around the eyes. Fresh parsley chewed is said to keep the breath fresh – especially after eating garlic!
Growing: Folklore has it that once planted, Parsley seed goes to the Devil seven times before realising the purpose of their life – and germinating!! They take notoriously long to germinate and are quite specific in their requirements! Parsley can be grown in pots or in the ground. They enjoy a good, deep, rich soil in either sun (during winter) or semi shade (to protect the plants in summer). Harvest the plants regularly. If they go to seed, cut out the flowering stalk to prolong the harvesting season. Replace after 2 years.
Parts Used: In most cases only the leaves are used. Parsley has been used as a garnish world-wide but is an indispensable ingredient as part of the everyday food we cook. It can be used in butters, cheeses, sauces, stews, soups, deep-fried, in ‘bouquet garni’ and ‘fines herbes’ and many other culinary ways. They can be dried for later use.
The leaves are used in teas as well as in lotions for cosmetic uses.
Did you know? The Parsley plant appears to have originated in Sardinia, though traces have been found in Turkey and Algeria too. To the ancient Greeks this herb was associated with Archemorus, the Herald of Death and as such they used it to decorate their tombs. It was used to be woven into garlands for winners of the Isthmian Games in those days and was not used as a culinary herb by them but fed to their horses. The Romans used it profusely and even wore garlands of parsley to counter intoxication at banquets. It was regarded as a medicinal herb in the Middle Ages till about the 1600’s when it became the indispensable ingredient we know today.
Disclaimer: Properties of herbs discussed and their uses in NO WAY replace the advice of a medical practitioner. Please consult a qualified practitioner before using herbs medicinally.