“Are you going to Scarborough fair? Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. Remember me to one who lives there, and she shall be a true love of mine.”
Are you familiar with this British folk song? Simon & Garfunkel popularized it in the 1960s, but it’s been around in various forms for quite some time. The herbs “parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme” not only work nicely with the meter of the poetry, they also taste great together! Let’s take them one at a time: parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, and then lavender on Friday. (Herbes de Provence on Saturday–a combination!)
My parsley story:
I didn’t realize fresh parsley was edible until I was an adult. :)
I bought some to add to chicken stock once. It was good, but not good enough to keep buying it.
I grew some in the garden. It did all right.
The next year I spilled a bunch of seeds. They grew like mad!
I’ve learned to use fresh parsley. :)
You should be able to buy fresh or dried parsley anywhere. It’s easy to grow and therefore cheap.
Fresh parsley is great as a garnish and for adding flavor to soups and stocks. Just toss a few sprigs in and you’ll get an extra-nice flavor as well as a few extra nutrients (parsley is especially high in vitamin A!).
It’s a major component of homemade ranch dressings and dips. This ranch dressing mix is my favorite, and you’ll notice it’s mostly parsley. Although you might think parsley doesn’t have much taste, it really enhances the other flavors in the dip (garlic, onion, basil, and pepper). Don’t make ranch without it :)
You can use parsley in almost anything. Seriously–I don’t want to start listing, because the list is infinite. :) Just don’t confuse it with cilantro–using a lot of parsley in a dish is okay; using a lot of cilantro can be overwhelming. :)
As I mentioned before, the best parsley I ever grew came from a seed spill. Maybe parsley has a low germination rate and the spill finally put enough seeds down to get a decent amount of plants! :)
Most books indicate that parsley seeds take quite awhile to sprout, so be patient after you plant them. After they sprout, though, you should be good to go. It’s very hardy, it grows back after you cut it, and it grows quickly.
Parsley is a biennial plant, so it does not flower or set seeds in the first year. The second year it bolts, flowers, and sets seeds very early in the summer. Harvest and freeze or dry all you can before the flowering happens–it will get bitter after the flowers come.
Drying your own parsley is not hard, but the flavor will not be quite as strong. It’s still very good, so drying is a fine way to preserve excess or gain convenience. Freezing also works well (but you won’t be able to use frozen herbs for garnishes).
Same as everything else: fresh in the fridge; dry away from light and heat. Frozen parsley is fine too, for soups, stocks, and sauces.