Tips on how to harvest parsley and hold it for later

One of the most commonly used herbs, parsley is a bright green biennial with feathery leaves. The country native to the Mediterranean region prefers temperate climates, but thrives in a variety of climatic conditions. There are two main types of parsley: flat parsley and curly parsley.

While curly parsley is the most popular of the two, both varieties are used for culinary purposes. The curly leaf variety is generally used as a side dish. On the other hand, flat-leaf parsley, also known as Italian parsley, is typically used in cooking.

Thanks to its refreshing earthy taste and light smell, it can be used in a wide variety of recipes, especially vegetable dishes, salads, soups and sauces. While it is popular around the world, parsley herb is mainly used in Middle Eastern and Greek cuisines. It was first grown about 2,000 years ago and named after a Greek word that means "stone celery".

The best thing about parsley is its subtle taste, which can mean the difference between an ordinary recipe and a gourmet delicacy. Second best about parsley is that it is extremely easy to grow and harvest, which means you can plant it in your herb garden and always have fresh parsley on hand!

If you're a parsley fanatic like us, you'll be happy to know that parsley is a very good store. After harvest, there are several ways to store it to ensure an uninterrupted supply of your favorite herb all year round. Read on to learn all about harvesting and storing parsley.

When should I harvest parsley?

If you know how to harvest parsley, you'll always have it to hand. Source: Miss Shari

Parsley is two years old and grows back when cut. However, it is mostly grown as an annual plant. It usually takes 70 to 90 days for your parsley plant to be ready for harvest. It is advisable to let the plant develop plenty of foliage before you begin harvesting parsley leaves.

In temperate climates, you can harvest parsley all year round. In other regions, the growing season begins in spring and lasts until autumn. The best time to harvest parsley is in the morning before it gets too hot in the day. The leaves have the strongest flavor during this time due to the high essential oil content.

The general rule when harvesting parsley is to pick a few leaves on a regular basis rather than the occasional large harvest. This keeps the plants busy producing foliage. Otherwise, the parsley is sown at the beginning of the season.

Remember that a parsley plant takes two to three weeks to grow back after a harvest. Schedule harvest sessions accordingly and give your herbs plenty of time to grow back before you harvest again!

How to harvest parsley

Parsley leavesHarvest individual leaves or full stems of your choice. Source: Michelle

Parsley is harvested for its aromatic leaves and seeds. It is advisable to harvest younger plants for leaves, while older plants and those in the second year of growth are better suited for harvesting their seeds.

Harvest parsley for leaves

The first step in harvesting parsley is choosing the right plants. For leaf harvesting, you'll want to pick younger stems as these have the strongest aromas.

Check the plant to make sure the stems have three or more segments. When you find three or more clusters of leaves on the stem, it's ready for harvest. Otherwise, it's best to let it grow a few more days before you start harvesting.

You can either harvest individual leaves or take whole stems. Sheets can simply be pinched or cut off. When harvesting stems, instead of cutting off the top, cut at the base of the stem. Cutting parsley stalks near the base of the plant will encourage growth and make your plants grow bushier. Make sure to use sharp sterilized scissors or secateurs to cleanly cut the stems.

Always avoid pruning the plant from the middle of the growth, especially if you need a few small twigs for everyday use. A better approach is to cut stems from the outer part of the plant. This will ensure that you harvest the oldest growth first.

Harvesting older growth also allows the plant to focus on producing new foliage. As a result, your herbs will thrive and generally get healthier over time. Harvest continuously throughout the growing season, taking outer leaves or stems, until the leaves begin to fade light green in color. At this point the taste begins to decrease.

If your plants are kept outside and unprotected, it is best to harvest the plants completely at the end of the season. However, plants grown indoors in warm and favorable conditions can continue to grow in winter as long as they receive plenty of sunlight. Plants grown indoors allow you to continue harvesting as needed.

Harvesting parsley for seeds

Now that you know the best way to harvest a parsley plant for leaves, let's discuss how to harvest the plants for parsley seeds. The first thing you need to know is that parsley plants will not produce seeds in the first year of growth.

You need to be a little patient for seed development. Monitor mature plants closely as they enter their second year of growth. Parsley herbs typically bloom and produce seeds at the end of their life cycle.

To get the most of your plants and get an abundant harvest, it is advisable to remove weak or incomplete parsley plants at the end of the first season. In this way, the second year growth can become stronger and healthier and high quality seeds can be produced.

Once the seed heads have darkened and are ready, you can remove them from the plant by cutting the stem just below the seed head. You can use scissors or simply pinch the plant between your thumb and forefinger to remove the seed heads.

Avoid moving the seed heads too much. If you shake the seed heads too vigorously as you cut them, the seeds may scatter. Since parsley seeds are very small, scattered seeds are likely to be lost. Place your harvested seed heads in a paper bag to dry. When the bag is completely dry, shake the bag to release the seeds from their heads and drop them into the bag.

You may notice some young seeds still stuck in the seed heads. Let these seeds ripen a little longer by leaving them in the sun for a few days. It usually takes around 2 to 3 days for young seeds to ripen in direct sunlight. Keep the seeds as dry as possible during this time. You may also need to protect them from birds and other small animals as they mature.

How to store fresh parsley

Chopped parsleyParsley can be chopped and frozen in cubes for later. Source: Abbyladybug

Fresh parsley can be stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator. How long it takes depends on how you store it. Here are some ways you can keep parsley fresh and last longer.

Store parsley at room temperature

You can keep your crop fresh for a short time by storing it in water at room temperature. The trick is to bundle the stems together and cut the ends off. Now, place the stems in a glass or vase filled with about 1 to 2 inches of water. Cover the leaves with a plastic bag and leave them on the counter. Your harvest will stay fresh and wilt-free for 2 to 3 days. Wash parsley before use.

Store parsley in the refrigerator

Would you like to keep parsley longer? Start by washing the stems thoroughly to remove any dirt or dust. Use a couple of paper towels to pat the branches dry. Instead of throwing away the paper towels, cover the twigs loosely and store them in a sealable bag. Put the bag in the fridge and you're done! Fresh parsley stored this way will last 3 to 5 days.

Freeze parsley

Another easy way to store your parsley long term is to freeze it. There are several ways to do this. For example, you can freeze whole twigs for later use, or freeze sliced ​​parsley in an ice cube tray with a little water to tie the leaves together. It's important to note that while frozen parsley retains its flavor, it loses its crispy texture. It is best to use frozen parsley within 6 months.

How to dry parsley

Washed parsleyParsley should be washed before drying. Source: Jepoirrier

One of the best ways to store parsley for a long time is to dry it out. Hang washed twigs upside down in a warm, dark, and well-ventilated place. You may want to tie a paper bag around the leaves to keep dust out.

It takes about 7 to 15 days for the stems to dry completely. After drying, you can crumble the leaves and store them in an airtight container or bag. Don't forget to cure parsley to prevent mold or mildew.

You can also use a dehydrator to dry your crops quickly and easily. Because high heat can affect the taste of the herbs, consider using an air-only dehydration method. It is best to use dry parsley within 2 to 3 years.

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