Other Names: Hamburg Parsley, Persely, Petersylinge. Rock Parsley
Parsley has been cultivated and developed over so many centuries that its precise origins are difficult to pinpoint.
There's an old saying that parsley seed goes the the devil and back again before it sprouts.
However, germination can be improved by soaking the seeds for a day or two in water that has a tiny amount of seaweed fertilizer in it. OR, pour boiling water over seeds in a bowl and allow to soak overnight.
Parsley is mentioned often throughout history, and not only for its culinary and medicinal properties.
To speed germination of parsley seeds, soak the seeds in lukewarm water for several hours. Let dry, and mix with dry coffee grounds before sowing outdoors in one-quarter inch of soil. Cover the spot with a board to keep the seeds moist and cool until they sprout.
From The Epicentre
The early Greeks made crowns of parsley to bestow upon the winners of the Nemena and Isthmian sports games, in the same manner that bay wreaths honored the Olympians. Parsley is used in the Hebrew celebration of Passover as a symbol of spring and rebirth. It is mentioned as one of the plants in the gardens of Charlemagne and Catherine de Medici. Rumor has it that Medici is responsible for popularizing parsley when she brought it back to France from its native Italy. In medieval times parsley was surrounded by much superstition, one belief being that the long germination period for the seeds was due to them having to travel to hell and back seven times before sprouting. Superstitious farmers would refuse to transplant parsley and some were even too afraid to grow it at all.
There are three common varieties of this popular, bright green biennial:
- Flat leaf (Italian) parsley.
- Curly leaf parsley.
- Parsnip rooted (Hamburg) parlsey.
Parsley as an Herb for Medicinal Uses
The medicinal parts are the oil extracted from the parsley fruit, the dried, separated schizocarp. the fresh or dried aerial parts, the dried underground pans and the whole fresh plant at the beginning of the flowering season. Parsley has a spicy smell.
Parsley leaf tea is used to settle the stomach after a meal as well as for bladder problems. The tea is also used to treat congestion caused by flu and colds, to lessen asthma attacks, and anemia. It is often used to treat urinary infections and fluid retention.
Eaten fresh, parsley is a boost to the body, as it contains many vitamins and minerals necessary for good health. It also freshens the breath after eating fresh garlic.
Modern science has confirmed many of the claims in favor of parsley. Parsley is rich in vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C. Parsley contains compounds that clear toxins from the body. It also reduces inflammation, contains histamine inhibitors and is a free radical scavenger. Scientists have even isolated a compound, apiol, which is now used in medications to treat kidney ailments and kidney stones.
Parsley is approved by Commission E for:
- Infections of the urinary tract.
- Kidney and bladder stones.
In folk medicine, parsley is used for gastrointestinal disorders, jaundice, kidney and bladder inflammation, as a diuretic and as an emmenagogue.
Homeopathic Uses: Inflammation of the urinary tract and irritable bladder.
In the herbal bath, parsley is refreshing as a skin tonic.
Varieties of Parsley
Both the crowded, dense leaved type and the broad open growing type were described in the 4th century B.C. Parsley was introduced into England from Sardinia in 1548. European colonists brought parsley to the United States in the 17th century, and it continues to be a popular garden vegetable nationwide.
There are numerous cultivated varieties of parsley, including "Curled Leaf," a very finely divided leaf type; "Italian" (or plain leaf), a less decorative but flavorful parsley that most closely resembles the original noncurly plants of Europe; "Hamburg," whose white roots resemble young parsnips in appearance and use; "Neapolitan" (or celery leaf), grown for its leaf stalks, which are eaten like celery; and "Dwarf," suitable both for ornamental and culinary purposes.
Parlsey Piert a.k.a Breakstone Parsley
(Aphanes arvensis syn Alchemilla arvensis)
An annual herb which is found on stony ground and along old walls throughout Britain, Europe and western Asia, parsley piert once used as a salad herb and pickled for winter use.
Medicinally, parsley piert has astringent and diuretic effects. It soothes irritated or inflamed tissues, especially the urinary mucosa.
Infusion: 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried herb to 1 cup water just off the boil; steep 10 to 15 minutes. Take 1 cup three times daily.
Culinary Uses of Parsley
Parsley leaves are ready for use about 3 months after seeding. A few leaves at a time may be removed from each plant, or the entire bunch of leaves may be removed for use. Although parsley leaves are used most commonly in the fresh green condition as a garnish, their characteristic flavor and green color can be retained if the leaves are dried rapidly. Parsley leaf flakes are produced from parsley grown in commercial fields.
Note: Flat-leaved Italian variety produces the best flavor.
The fresh flavor of parsley makes it an ideal accompaniment to most foods. Parsley is traditionally featured in well-known herb blends like fines herbes (with chervil, chives and tarragon) and in bouquet garni with thyme, bay leaves.
Fresh or dried parsley may be used in omelets, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, soups, pasta and vegetable dishes and in sauces to go with fish, poultry, veal and pork. It is included with garlic and butter for making garlic bread or simply garnishing a juicy, sizzling barbecued steak. Parsley is a key ingredient, along with mint in the healthy and nutritious Middle Eastern salad, tabouleh.
Persillade, a French sauce, is a sauteed mixture of finely chopped parsley and garlic. It is added just before serving to broiled meats, particularly lamb and beef, as well as chicken or vegetables.
Gremolada is a Milanese condiment made of sauteed parsley, garlic, lemon and orange zest. This mixture is traditionally spread over osso bucco just before serving, although it enhances any braised meats.
To preserve the oils that give parsley its flavor, place freshly picked parsley in a Ziploc freezer bag and store in the freezer until ready to use.
Herb and Nut Cream Cheese Log
Mix one package (8 ounces) softened reduced fat cream cheese with one-third grated Parmesan cheese and chopped toasted pecans. Shape into 8-inch log. Roll in mixture of 1/4 cup each toasted chopped pecans and chopped fresh parsley; press gently into log to secure. Serve with crackers. Makes 12 servings, 2 tablespoons cheese spread and five crackers each.
Parsley Butter Recipe
Indiana herbalist Marge Clark liked this butter because, she said, you can find fresh parsley in the supermarket, even in the dead of winter.
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup fresh parsley, minced
Freshly grated black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
Combine all thoroughly. Cover tightly and refrigerate up to 2 weeks. Good on any meat, fish, chicken, bread, or vegetable.
Did you know?
The best way to cut parsley is with a scissors.
Folklore & Magickal Uses
Parsley promotes fertility and encourages lust. Use it in purification baths. Sprigs of parsley were once used on plates to keep food from becoming contaminated.
Should not be used medicinally if pregnant, have spasmodic menstrual pains, peptic ulcers or kidney disease.
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