Parsley: An Aromatic Herb that is more than just a Garnish

The refreshing taste of parsley makes it one of the most popular herbs in the world, if not the most popular. A common choice for garnish, for centuries, it has a reputation not only for its culinary uses but also for its medicinal value. This makes it an excellent addition to your growing family of herbs in the garden.

This guide tackles some of the most popular ways of using parsley at home, especially in the kitchen. We will discuss its many benefits for the health. Most importantly, you will know how to successfully grow this plant in the garden, including care and maintenance to ensure its healthy growth.

Background and History

Parsley HistoryThe exact origin of parsley is difficult to point out, given the fact that there are different stories about is history. A native of Southern Europe, it is now around for more than 2,000 years. Even before its culinary applications, it was already popular in the field of alternative medicine.

Parsley is from the Greek word Petroselinum. Petros means rock and selenium mean celery, which is why the name literally translates to rock celery. Historically, the Greeks were amongst the first users of this herb, which they dedicate to Persephone, known as the goddess of spring. They use parsley to create wreaths that they hang in tombs. Also, they made crowns using parsley awarded during the Isthmian Games, which is their version of the Olympics.

For Romans, meanwhile, historical uses of parsley were not for culinary. They create garlands and wear it over their head during celebrations, which they believe is an effective way to get rid of evil spirits. Several stories also point out to how Romans use it during orgies, primarily as a breath freshener.

The Hebrews were also amongst the first users of parsley, specifically as a symbol of rebirth. During Karpas, an ancient Hebrew celebration, they eat parsley with vinegar or salt water.

The U.S. is perhaps the most popular country where they use parsley for culinary applications. Until today, it remains to be the largest user of parsley in the world, which is why it is a common choice for a garden herb.

Different Types of Parsley

All over the world, there are different kinds of parsley available, each with their own distinct characteristics. They differ not only in terms of their physical appearance, but also their flavor and aroma.

It also goes by the name of common parsley, which is popular for its ease of growth and versatility. It is the most common from all the varieties, especially in the US. The dry leaves are often used for garnish, soups, and stews, among others. It usually grows stem to a maximum height of 14 inches. It has a beautiful curly leaf that looks nice for decorating plates.

Curly Leaf Parsley

As the name implies, it has flat leaves. They are more flavorful than curly parsley, but it is equally beautiful. One particular cultivar is Gigante Catalogo, which has a large leaf. Italian dark green, meanwhile, has the most robust flavor.

Flat-leaf Parsley

The thick root of the parsley gives it a distinction above the other varieties of the plant. The root is similar to the turnip. It has a sweet flavor and texture that makes it an excellent addition to stews and soups. It has fern-like leaves that you can also use for food decoration. The stem grows to a height of up to 24 inches and has a width of 12 inches.

Hamburg Parsley

Its appearance is similar to Italian parsley. It is native not only from Japan but also in China. The height is usually 39 inches, and the width is 24 inches. It has white blossoms that appear in the summer season. It has a bitter flavor.

Japanese Parsley

This belongs to the category of flat-leaf parsley. The best thing about this parsley is the high concentration of essential oil, which makes it excellent for medicinal uses. The flavor, however, is not as strong as the other varieties. The maximum height of this plant is 36 inches. It is also excellent for the garden because it attracts butterflies.

Italian Parsley

Health Benefits

Traditionally, parsley has a reputation for being an excellent medicinal herb. Some of its best health benefits include the following:

  • Cancer: Several studies prove the ability of parsley to deter the growth of cancer cells because of its chlorophyll and antioxidants. It also has apigenin, a flavonoid that combats some of the most common symptoms of cancer.
  • Inflammation: In the Mediterranean region, the use of parsley is popular because of its anti-inflammatory benefits. One study from the King Saud University, among others, supports this claim. If you are suffering from arthritic pain, parsley is an effective natural remedy. Eugenol is the compound that is primarily responsible for this benefit.
  • Immune System: Parsley is also an excellent way to boost the immune system naturally. It has Vitamins A, C, and K, among others. They are all helpful in increasing the defense of the body from common illnesses, such as cold and cough.
  • Bones: If you want to have stronger bones, parsley will be a big help. It significantly improves bone density, especially amongst older women. It has a high level of calcium and Vitamin C, which will help in the prevention of osteoporosis.
  • Anemia: Parsley is a rich source of iron, which is why it is the excellent choice for the treatment of anemia. Drinking parsley tea is one of the simplest ways to enjoy this benefit. It will help in improving the presence of oxygen in your body.
  • Kidney Stones: Cleansing the kidney is another health benefit of consuming parsley. Either fresh or dry, parsley leaves will help to dissolve infections that harm the kidney, effectively reducing pain. The best way to do this is to use it for juicing, such as with watermelon, beet, organic carrot, or celery, among others.
  • Heart: Parsley also delivers a wealth of benefits for cardiovascular health. This herb contains folacin, which is the one responsible for improving the condition of the heart. It aids in the prevention of oxidative damage to healthier blood vessels. It also regulates the level of blood pressure, which is critical for a healthier heart.
  • Diabetes: Aside from regulating blood pressure, parsley is also highly effective in making sure that sugar is always in check. It has myricetin, which was recently the subject of animal and laboratory researches. It improves the glucose level in the blood, which helps in the reduction of the symptoms of diabetes.
  • Digestion: Digestive stimulation is another significant benefit of consuming parsley. The enzyme content of the herb is one of the reasons for this. Ever since the 4th century, parsley medical recipes are proving is an ability to improve digestion.

Uses for Culinary and Beyond

There are many uses of parsley in the kitchen and home beyond its medicinal value, including the following:

  • Garnish: This is perhaps the most traditional use of parsley. You can use it for salad or any other dish as finishing touches. The green color of its leaf will also make it look good in pasta or any other dish with white or light color. Curly leaves will add a touch of beauty in your food.
  • Sauces: Parsley also makes an excellent addition to complement the flavor of different sauces. You can make chimichurri sauce simply by combining black pepper, Kosher salt, red pepper, vinegar, oregano, cilantro, and olive oil. This makes a perfect sauce for chicken or lamb.
  • Soups: Especially during the cold season, a hot soup will perfectly complement any meal. One way to use parsley in soup is to combine it with butter, olive oil, potato, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and water.
  • Meat Flavoring: The flavor of parsley is not as strong as other herbs, which makes it perfect if you just want a hint of bitterness and fragrant aroma in your meat. You can chop the leaves and use it as a marinade or simply smother the top of meat with parsley.
  • Breath Deodorizer: In many dishes, they serve parsley leaves not for you to eat it along the food, but after. This will help to eliminate the strong flavor of food and will make your breath naturally fresher.
  • Cocktails: Looking for a unique twist on a traditional cocktail? Consider adding parsley. For something light and refreshing, mix parsley with lime juice, Simple syrup, gin, club soda, and crushed ice.
Soup with Parsley

Pumpkin and Carrot Soup with Cream and Parsley

Growing Parsley

This aromatic herb is worthy of recognition because of its abundance of uses in the kitchen and beyond. With this, it is no longer surprising that many people love to plant it in the garden. Clueless on how to do this right? Below are some of the most important things that you need to know.

How to Successfully Plant

Growing parsley is usually through its seed, but take note that it requires patience as the process is slow. In fact, it takes up to 6 weeks before the seeds germinate. To speed up germination, one of the best things to do is to soak it in warm water for at least a whole day. This helps to soften the outer case to stimulate quicker growth.

Once the seeds are ready, rinse them and dry for another whole day. Plant the seeds on healthy soil, preferably after the last day of frost. The best months to plant are March and April. Start by planting it indoors, which is an ideal environment while the plant is still young. When it reaches a height of at least three inches, this is an indication that you can start transplanting it outdoors.

To make the plant grow at its best, choose a location with a full or partial sun. The quality of the soil is another critical consideration. The pH level should be anywhere from 5.5 to 6.7. More so, the soil must be moist. Fertilizing after planting also helps to encourage healthy growth.

How to Effectively Harvest

You can harvest parsley anytime throughout the year, but it is best to do it early in the morning. This is the point where it has the strongest concentration of essential oil, and hence, it has the strongest flavor. The best indication that the plant is ready for harvest is when at least three leaves or segments are already present. Start by cutting the outer twigs, but only when you are ready to use them to ensure its freshness. Do not cut the inner portion of the plant to encourage its continuous growth.

Parsley to Harvest

Harvest Parsley When at Least 3 Leaves or Segments are Already Present

After harvesting, it is also important to pay attention to its proper storage. While it is best to use leaves after harvest when they are still fresh, you can also keep it. One of the best ways to preserve freshness is through keeping it in an airtight bag. Freezing is also a good idea. Drying the leaves is another way to maximize its full flavor.

How to Properly Maintain

Like in the case of other herbs in the garden, watering is important for healthy growth, especially during the period of germination. Do this as well during the summer months to prevent drying out. In the case of parsley in a pot, see to it that there are holes at the bottom to allow water to drain. If water stays in the soil, this will make the plant prone to root rot and the presence of pests.

Regular pruning is also necessary to keep the plant in its tip-top condition. Trim only when the plant is mature enough. Take out dying blooms or any foliage that is already unhealthy. This will avoid the problem from spreading to the healthy parts of the plant.

Using a natural fertilizer, although not necessary, will help to improve the condition of the plant. The fish emulsion will help to nourish the plant. Mulching also helps to protect the soil, especially during the cold season.


Many of us may know parsley as a garnish. More than just its decorative purposes in different dishes, however, it also has a long history of use in the field of alternative medicine. The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians, and Hebrews are some of the first ones to use it for the treatment of various health problems. Up to this day, it is present in many herb gardens because of its flavorful aroma and incredible benefits for the health.

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