Tag Archives: fine herbs

Growing Parsley an herb lover’s plant

Growing Parsley (petroselinum crispum) is one of those herb everyone should grow in there garden. It can be used as a culinary herb as well as a beautiful border plant.

Cut parsley

Curly Parsley ready to eat

Growing Parsley is a great way to have one of the most popular and oldest well known herbs. Remember when you were a kid and told to clean your plate? I wonder if they meant the garnish, properly not.  Which is a shame because parsley is loaded with vitamin and minerals. Parsley is high in vitamin A, C, iron and minerals.

There are two kinds of parsley, curly and flat leaf Italian. Curly parsley has a milder taste, where Italian has a stronger flavor and most used by cooks.

Growing Parsley: Sow from spring to late summer, in zones 5-8. It grows to a height about 12-20″ tall depending on the variety. Italian is taller of the two plants. Can be grown indoors. Bi-annual which means the second year it goes to seed, so for best results plant parsley every year. By planting every year it will be available whenever it is needed. Parsley can be grown in containers near the kitchen, or in your garden. Likes full sun to part shade.

Parsley will bloom the second year with white tiny flowers umbels. Flowering usually occurs from early to midsummer.

Soil: should be rich and moist. Parsley likes to be grown in slightly alkaline and well drained soil.

Growing Parsley Seeds: The parsley seed is slow to germinate, in fact it may take as many as four weeks to germinate. The length of time for germination can be increase by soaking the seeds in a wet paper towel overnight or for several hours. Germination is about 70% and should start coming up in about 2 weeks if seeds have been soak.

Seeds need a cold spell, so if you collect the seeds they need to be in the refrigerator for a few weeks. Purchase seeds usually have been stratified (cold).

Seeds can be grown directly outside in spring or early early spring indoors. The plants can take cold better than some herb plants. They don’t like their roots disturbed so be careful when transplanting outside.

Harvest: Pick leaves and stems as needed the first year. Parsley can be cut severely several times a year if you give it about six weeks to recover. Parsley can be dried and or frozen. Parsley does well in both situations. Some herbs lose all flavor when dried, but parsley still retains some flavor. Store parsley in a cool dark place, light and heat will destroy flavor.

Culinary: Add raw flat leaf parsley to almost any savory dishes. Parsley makes a wonderful garnish for soups, salads, eggs dishes, potatoes, fish, sandwiches, and sauces. Curly parsley is one of the ingredient in bouquet garni. Check out my blog on “fine herbs and bouquet garni”. Parsley should be added at the last minute to retain it flavor. Check out my blog on “Fresh herbs in the Kitchen”.

The basic rule for using parsley is 1 TBSP. fresh or 1 to 2 tsp. dried.

Pests: Prone to suffer from leaf spot and viral diseases that may damage the leaves.

Companion Planting: Growing parsley can be used as a companion plants for roses, chives, tomatoes, and asparagus. Avoid fennel and dill when growing parsley.

Cosmetic: Can be infused as a hair tonic and conditioner. Add to facial steams and lotions for dry skin to minimize freckles.

Medicinal: Parsley is used in infusion, tinctures, cider vinegar tinctures and teas. Parsley is a antioxidant and is beneficial to the digestive tract and is often recommended for urinary tract problems.

Curly parsley is eaten for bad breath, which is one of the reason you find it as a garnish. It is also used to promote healthy skin. Use in a poultice as an antiseptic dressing for sprains, wounds, and insect bites.

Root: Use for kidney troubles and as a mild laxative.

History: Growing Parsley was held in high esteem by the Greeks and was used to crown the winning athletes.

Parsley is native to the Mediterranean and introduced in Britain and north and central Europe. Parsley was used in funeral ceremonies long before it was used as a garnish.

Growing parsley can be a wonderful addition to any garden, I hope these tips help you the next time you plant parsley.

Bouquet Garni and Fine Herbs

In a previous post,”Fresh Herbs in the Kitchen”, I mentioned herbs used in Bouquet Garni and Fine Herbs. What exactly is bouquet garni and fine herbs blend? I hope the following will answer the question.

Bouquet Garni is a small bunch of aromatic fresh herbs and spices tied together and used in stocks, soups, stews, and sauces.

The herbs are tied together to keep the herbs contained so the flavor not the bits of the herb  will infuse the food. Fresh herbs have a tendency to look bad in the dish if they have cooked for longer than 10 to 15 minutes. Plus all their flavor is gone after the long cooking time. Both dried and fresh herbs along with spices can be used. If using dried herbs use method two.

Method #1: Tie two or three sprigs of Italian parsley (flat leaf) with one or two sprigs of thyme, and a bay leaf. You can include marjoram, French tarragon, rosemary, or sage in one or two sprigs each depending on the flavor desired.

Try tucking the herbs between two stalks of celery before tying for additional flavor. Some bouquet garni contain peppercorns, whole allspice, and whole cloves. Once the dish is cooked, remove the bunch of herbs.

Method #2: The bouquet garni is place in a small square of cheesecloth or clean muslin. The herbs are chopped and usually dried with this method. Bring the corners together and tie with a string with a tail long enough to hang over the edge, (not too long, you don’t want it to catch on fire) or tie to the handle of the pot. This makes it easy to remove. The dried herbs can also be placed in a tea ball instead of cheesecloth.

The bouquet garni can be made ahead from either fresh or dried. The fresh can be frozen and added to the pot straight from the freezer. The dried can be place in an airtight container for future use.

Fine Herbs blend: are usually added to the dish in small quantities in vegetables, eggs, chicken, soup, salads, sauces and fish dishes. Add the last few minutes of cooking to retain their flavor.

Fine herbs include finely chopped in equal amounts of chervil, chives, tarragon, and parsley.

A jar of dried fine herbs make a wonderful gift to anyone who enjoys cooking.

To make the gift jar of Fine Herbs blend: Fine a pretty jar or container with a tight fitting lid and add the dry herbs in equal amounts listed above. Include a few of your favorite recipes to the jar. Tie with a pretty bow. Don’t forget a label for the jar with the date the herbs were dried. Herbs loose their flavor after a certain amount of time. Six months to a year.

Happy Cooking!