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Parsley – All You Need to Know | Instacart Guide to Fresh Produce

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Jul 21, 2021

What is parsley?

Parsley is a flowering herb native to the central and eastern areas of the Mediterranean and Europe. Today, parsley is grown and cultivated all over the world. The leafy green plant is small and strong, and its leaves can be used in all sorts of recipes from tabbouleh and pesto to pizza and tempura.

There are 3 main varieties of parsley:

  • Curled leaf parsley
  • Flat-leaf parsley
  • Hamburg parsley

In the United States, curled leaf parsley is the most common variety, and flat-leaf parsley is also relatively easy to find. However, Hamburg parsley is a bit more niche and is typically only available at specialty stores.

Parsley can be purchased in fresh bunches, as dried leaves or flakes, or as pastes, each of which has its own unique advantages. Fresh parsley typically has a stronger flavor, as the drying process can slightly dull the taste. Although dried parsley may be slightly weaker, it lasts much longer than fresh parsley. Parsley paste is a happy medium because it typically lasts for up to 2 weeks while still providing the bold flavor of fresh parsley in a squeezable bottle, so you have less work and clean-up to do.

Where did parsley originate from?

Parsley is native to some countries in the Mediterranean, Europe, and northern Africa such as:

  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Malta
  • Morocco
  • Algeria
  • Lebanon
  • Israel
  • Turkey

The herb has been cultivated for over 2,000 years and its popularity is often credited to Charles the Great who reportedly loved parsley so much that he had it grown all over his estate. It was originally the flat-leaf variety of parsley that was most popular, but as interest in the herb grew and other varieties were cultivated, curled leaf parsley became the most frequently used variety.

According to ancient Greek mythology, parsley first grew from the blood of Archemorus, the forerunner of death. Because of this, it was considered a magical herb that provided strength but was also evil. From this belief grew the expression, “to only need parsley,” meaning that death was near. Despite these unusual origins, parsley has become a worldwide phenomenon.

What is the nutritional value of parsley?

Parsley is a superfood, providing many essential nutrients. Half a cup of fresh, chopped parsley is low in calories and carbs but provides vital:

  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin K
  • Folate
  • Potassium

Because of these nutrients, parsley is a great way to add flavor to different dishes, support healthy bones and eyes, and improve heart health.

How is parsley grown?

Parsley enjoys moist soil in a hot climate and is typically grown from seed, taking up to 6 weeks to germinate. The herb is sewn in March, April, May, or June, depending on the heat of the location, and is then harvested between June and October. Parsley is ready to be harvested just before it flowers and is picked at the base. Some parsley is typically left to flower to create seeds for the next year’s crop.

When is parsley in season?

Because parsley enjoys a warm and moist climate, it is typically in season during the hot months of mid to late summer and even into early fall.

What should I look for when buying parsley?

Parsley is easily found fresh, dried, and in paste form worldwide. When purchasing fresh parsley, look for green leaves that do not look wilted. There should be no brown or yellow patches, and the parsley should have a distinctive fresh smell to it.

If you are looking for fresh produce delivery, you can easily shop for parsley and other fresh herbs via Instacart. After adding a product to your cart, use the “Instructions” option to notify your Instacart shopper about any preferences or specific directions on how to choose the best products.

How to store parsley

Fresh parsley can be stored in many ways, and the herb will last for about 2 weeks in the fridge. If your fresh parsley still has stems, store it in an upright in a glass of water (as you would flowers), and keep it in the fridge. If your parsley is just leaves, store it in an airtight plastic bag or container.

Another option for storing fresh parsley is to freeze it. Simply chop up the parsley leaves and mix them with water or olive oil before pouring them into an icecube tray for long-term storage. When you need fresh parsley, simply pop out a cube and use it in your cooking. Don’t have any icecube trays? Simply freeze the leaves unchopped in an airtight container.

Dried parsley can last for up to a year and needs to be stored in an airtight container in a dark and cool cabinet.

How to tell if parsley is bad

You can tell if parsley has gone bad by color and smell. The leaves should not droop and should be a deep or bright green without any brown or yellow spots, as these are an indication that the parsley has gone bad. An off smell is also an indicator that your parsley has gone off.

What can I substitute for parsley?

Fresh parsley can be substituted with dried or paste parsley, however, if you have no forms available to you, try one of these substitutes:

  • Chervil
  • Tarragon
  • Chives
  • Carrot greens
  • Oregano
  • Endive
  • Arugula
  • Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Celery leaves

Your ideal parsley substitute depends on if you were using parsley as a garnish or an ingredient. Cilantro, carrot greens, or celery leaves work well for garnish, but chives or chervil are an ideal substitute if you’re using parsley for its unique flavor.

Start cooking with parsley today

With so many incredible nutrients and an endless number of uses, from garnish to delicious dishes, parsley needs to be on your weekly shopping list. Get fresh parsley delivered today with the help of Instacart.

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