Parsley, Not Just For Chefs But For Doctors As Well
Parsley is a classic herb most commonly used as garnishing and flavoring in famous dishes all over the world. A sprig of parsley can exquisitely dress up a plate and a pinch of parsley can indeed bring out a wonderful aroma in any dish. It goes extremely well with fish, meat and vegetable dishes, soups, sauces, stews, stocks, and of course, salads.
The Greeks held Parsley in very high esteem because they believed that it had sprung from the Greek hero, Crchemorous. Greek gardens were usually bordered with Parsley. Winners of their ancient games were crowned and adorned with wreath of parsley and also the tombs of their dead. The herb was particularly never brought to the table of their old people because parsley is held sacred to oblivion and especially to the dead.
Since the early times and up to the present, Hebrew people still use parsley in their celebration of Passover as a symbol of spring and rebirth.
Parsley, with scientific name Petroselinum crispum, has three common varieties: the Italian or flat-leaf, the curly-leaf, and the Hamburg or bush.
Italian or flat-leaf parsley has flat, dark green leaves with a strong, coarse flavor and edible, succulent stems. Both curly leaf and Italian are used in cooking, but the flavor of the Italian is preferable because it has a stronger flavor because of much higher levels of essential oil in it.
Curly-leaf parsley has leaves that curl into small frilly leaflets. It is often used as a garnish and is the variety most commonly sold in the market even though it has less flavor than Italian parsley.
Hamburg or parsley bush has a thick, celery-flavored root that has a nutty taste when boiled as a vegetable. It is grown as root vegetable, which can be boiled like parsnips and deliciously served with butter.
Medicinal Uses of Parsley
The uses of Parsley are many and are by no means restricted to the culinary sphere. It is valued as a breath-freshener and has been proven to be the best counter for bad garlic breath, due to its high concentration of chlorophyll. Parsley is also known as mild aphrodisiac. But in general, parsley improves the general health of individuals.
Parsley was used as far back as the times of Hippocrates as a medicine because it helps prevent rheumatism, relieves kidney pains, prevents dropsy and jaundice, enhances mental alertness, and improves the immune system.
Parsley contains high amounts of vitamins and essential minerals such as A and C, potassium, calcium magnesium, phosphorus, and iron. This herb promotes good digestion, and nourishes the kidneys, liver and bladder. Parsley helps prevent hypertension due to its diuretic properties.
Parsley stimulates the circulation and the digestive system. It is a good tonic herb and is a remedy for troublesome flatulence. Parsley tea taken hot last thing at night can be effective in loosening a stubborn cough. For medicinal purposes parsley tea is most usually made from the dried leaves.
Fresh crushed parsley leaves can be used externally for relieving insect bites and stings. As an instant remedy take fresh or pulped leaves and place on minor cuts and abrasions to soothe and heal.
Cultivation of Parsley
Parsley grows well in an ordinary, good well-worked and moist soil, in deep pot to accommodate parsley’s long taproot. A little soot may be added to the soil to for a better outcome. A partially shaded location is best for parsley, however, if grown indoors, be sure to take it out daily because it requires at least five hours of sunlight to grow a perfect parsley plant.
All varieties of parsley are biennials, meaning that they usually last for two years. However, it is ideal to grow it yearly because the leaves have a better flavor in its first year. The first year, you get plenty of leaves, on fairly long stems that come from the crown of the plant. The second year, you get a couple of leaves and a long bloom stalk. During the second year, the main stems grow taller and branched out. Each branch holds the flat-topped umbrella of yellow flowers.
Pick leaves from the plant, stem and all. The first year, you can pick as much leaves as you want because they easily grow back. The second year, there will only be few leaves and these will not grow anymore because the plant is working on its bloom and seeds.
Drying and Preserving Parsley
Fresh parsley can be added to cook dishes, or used as a garnish on soup, or soaked in a little bit of water and sprinkled on top of already-cooked food as a garnish. Aside from using it fresh, the entire plant, from leaves to roots, can be preserved, dried and powdered as culinary flavoring and coloring especially in winter when there is only limited supply of fresh parsley available.
Parsley leaves are dried towards the close of the summer for culinary use. These are spread into on muslin trays and put into the oven to be cooked repeatedly several times to achieve exquisite dryness and crispiness. The dried leaves are rubbed in the hands or through a coarse wire sieve to test their perfection. The powders are stored in sealed tins to avoid being exposed to air and light and to preserve their excellent aroma and first-rate color.
Parsley stems and leaves can be chopped and dried, or chopped and frozen in ice cubes. These parsley cubes can be used to cook delectable soups and sauces.
Aside from the leaves, the stems are also dried and powdered, for culinary coloring and for dyeing purposes. There is likewise a great market demand for the seeds to supply parsley nurserymen and farmers, and the roots of the Hamburg variety are used as a vegetable and flavoring.
Medicinally, the two-year-old roots are used fresh or cooked; the leaves are dried to make fantastic Parsley Tea; and the seeds are likewise used to extract an oil called Apiol, scientifically proven to have considerable curative value.
Whether for a culinary or medical reasons, parsley is indeed an exceptional herb.