30 Apr 2006

Herbs - Parsley

Parsley originated in the Mediterranean region and has been known for over 2000 years.

Parsley seeds take a long time to germinate so most people prefer to get plants from the garden center.

If planting from seed in Spring, some circles say it is best to plant in small pots and transplant when about 3" to 4" high but if the weather is warm enough the seeds can be planted directly in the garden. Three plantings in Feb/Mar, Apr/May and Jun/July will give you an constant supply as the last planting can give you stock to supply for winter.
Whether planted from seed or transplanted seedlings Parsley needs a sunny spot in rich, well dug soil with lots of organic matter. Parsley also grows well in a pot on a sunny windowsill.
Dress with organic fertilizer once a month. Parsley is not bothered by pests so there is very little else needed except to keep the soil moist.

There are two main types of Parley used today Petroselinum crispum - curly parsley and Petroselinum neapolitanum - flat leafed Italian parsley.

Parsley is very rich in Vitamin A, C and K and iron. It contains oils, both volatile and flavonoids which are excellent for your health. Parsley also contains folic acid and beta-carotene.

Parsley counters anaemia, is a traditional diuretic which helps kidney function and breaking down kidney stones, lowers blood pressure and relieves gout.
Parsley stimulates the appetite, increases stomach secretions, and promotes digestion.
The volatile oils are said to prevent formation of tumours and neutralize carcinogens caused by charcoal smoke and cigarette smoke.
The flavonoids are excellent anti-oxidants preventing cell damage.
Parsley is a natural breath freshener and is commonly known to remove the smell of garlic.

Culpepper tells us: 'It is very comfortable to the stomach . . . good for wind and to remove obstructions both of the liver and spleen . . . Galen commendeth it for the falling sickness . . . the seed is effectual to break the stone and ease the pains and torments thereof.... The leaves of parsley laid to the eyes that are inflamed with heat or swollen, relieves them if it be used with bread or meat.... The juice dropped into the ears with a little wine easeth the pains.'

Please Note:As parsley contains oxalates it should be eaten very moderately or not at all by people with untreated kidney or gallbladder problems. Oxalates also interfere with the absorbtion of calcium so calcium supplements should be taken a few hours before or after eating parsley.Use little parsley if you are pregnant or trying to conceive as it can stimulate muscles of the uterus.

To store fresh parsley in the refridgerator either wrap in a damp cloth or keep in a plastic bag.
It is one of the herbs in bouquet garni and adds flavour to all soups and stews.

Try this interesting recipe from Parsley Soup - Cherry's Vegan Recipes

Parsley Soup
25g (1 oz) vegetable margarine
1 large onion
2 celery sticks
100g (4 oz) fresh parsley (this is more than it sounds)
4tsp plain flour
900ml (1 1/2 pints)
vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
A dash of soya cream
1) Finely chop the onion and slice the celery. Chop the parsley roughly and discard any long stalks.
2) Heat oil or margarine and add the onion, celery and parsley. Cook until soft, then stir in the flour and cook for a minute or two before adding the stock.
3) Simmer for 25 minutes then allow to cool slightly and purée with a blender.
4) Reheat, season, and add soya cream before serving with a sprig of parsley.

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