Parsley For Health: Grow It, Eat It, Preserve It

by dustytoes

I recently discovered the wonders of parsley and I want to get the word out about this beautiful and tasty herb.

As a gardener I am always looking for useful herbs to grow alongside the usual vegetable fare. Parsley was mentioned on a blog I follow. The writer mentioned that it would grow well into the cold season and I love a long lasting crop!
I like to use what I grow in the dishes I make, but I was mostly unfamiliar with the herb. I bought a couple of plants when I shopped for seedlings and planted them among the vegetables.
I wasn't sure how to use parsley or what to use it with. But once I began cutting it, I found the aroma to be very pleasant. The flavor it added to my cooking was fabulous, so I often skipped outside to cut a stem or two to chop and include in the dish I was preparing.
Besides being tasty, it's loaded with vitamins and nutrients to improve health.

The Benefits of Eating Parsley

There is a lot of good in this little green plant!

parsley garnishOften parsley is a garnish to make a meal look pretty.  Most people set it aside or toss it out.  Did you know that chewing parsley can freshen breath?  And that is the least of what it's good for.  Parsley is an excellent source of vitamins K, C and A.  Folate and iron content is also high.  It contains other necessary nutrients like B vitamins, calcium and potassium.

It contains folic acid which protects the heart.  It keeps the system flushed and is considered an excellent diuretic.  That is why you will find all kinds of "cleanses" using parsley.

Buy only organic parsley that is bright green and fresh looking, or better yet, grow your own.

One caution is that this green leafy vegetable is one of the few that contain a measurable amount of oxalates.  In some cases, this can cause problems.  Spinach is at the top of the oxalate containing list, and I have cut way down on eating it, but I don't worry about the smaller amount in parsley.  From what I've read, oxalates can possibly contribute to the formation of kidney stones.


Grow Your Own Parsley

This is an easy plant to grow.

grow your own parsleyParsley plants are green and leafy and they have a lovely aroma when cut or crushed.  Tall stalks support large leaves at the tip.   Those leaves can be flat (known as Italian parsley) or curly, and that is the part of the plant I chop to add to recipes.

It's easiest to grow this plant from small seedlings purchased at farm stands or stores.  This year I also grew parsley from seeds I planted outside in the ground.  Not all of them grew, but I did have a nice crop.  The seedlings are a guarantee whereas the seeds can be washed away in a heavy rain.

The plants tolerate drought quite well, but I water them if they look droopy.    To use cuttings, break off the stems on the outer edge at the bottom of the plant.  This way the newer shoots come up in the center to replace what is used.

If you don't plan to use a lot of it, one or two plants may be enough to grow.  In order to preserve this herb for later enjoyment (by freezing or drying - I talk more about this down the page), you will want to grow more.

Cooking With Parsley

It's not just for potatoes.

chopped vegetablesI've found that I love to add this healthy herb to almost everything I cook.  Since I have cut way down on my salt consumption, adding natural flavor enhancers is essential to eating good-tasting food.  Every soup, stew, stir-fry, omelet, side-dish, and meat / fish dish I prepare will contain some fresh, chopped parsley.

One parsley specific recipe is Tabouli.  I found a recipe at for Quinoa Tabouli which looks yummy.  And below you'll find other recipes that use parsley in the list below.

But, you don't need specific recipes, just add it to whatever needs flavor.  


The Best Recipes That Use Parsley

Right now I have no "best" recipes because all my recipes include this herb!  Well, almost all.  I don't know how I ever cooked anything delicious before I used parsley to enhance the taste of food.

Here are some examples of how I incorporate parsley when cooking.

  • Mix chopped parsley into pizza crust, and add it to tomato sauce.
  • Include it in your omelets and scrambled eggs. 
  • Add handfuls of the stuff to the juicer when making homemade vegetable juice.  
  • Chop and mix into salsa and salads.
  • Sprinkle into soups
  • Crush and rub onto roasts
  • Use in mashed potatoes

Wizzley Recipe Pages Using Parsley

Prepare a Mediterranean Buffet

The Secret to Finely Chopped Parsley, or Any Herbs

Invest in a Big, Sharp Knife to Chop Herbs

To do what you'll see in the video, it's necessary to have a very sharp knife.

Preserving the Fresh Summer Crop to Use in Winter

I like to do this to save money and know my herbs are organic.

dried parsley in mason jarWhile I thoroughly love stepping outside my back door and grabbing some fresh parsley to eat, the growing season in New England is quite short.  Parsley will last well into the fall (until the deer come and find it!), but after that, I must resort to the dried form.

Last year I bought a bottle of dried, organic parsley and it cost me close to $6.00!  This year I vowed to dry my own.  I did a little herb drying in my dehydrator last summer, but this year I got serious.  I filled the layers of the machine with only parsley.  It has to dry for close to 24 hours, so I set the dehydrator in a room I don't use.  I've dried two batches and have filled three large mason jars with the leaves.  (Three jars were just barely enough for winter.  Four would have been better.)

The drying guide suggests that it not be crushed until ready to use so I saved the leaves whole.  I'll use my mortar and pestal to crush them as needed when I cook.  Just using fingers works too.

A Dehydrator can dry lots of parsley leaves at once. Fill each tray and stack, then let it run continuously at the low setting.

It takes about 24 hours to thoroughly dry parsley.
Nesco FD-60 Snackmaster Express 4-Tray Food Dehydrator

How to Freeze Fresh Parsley

Freezing is one of my favorite ways to preserve parsley.  Pick it, wash it, dry it, and wrap it up in plastic wrap, in log shape, to store in the freezer.  

I pick bunches of it and rinse it well.  Then I lay it out on kitchen towels to dry.  Break off the thicker stems, and gather the bunches of leaves and tightly roll together.  Wrap the rolled tube of parsley in freezer paper, or saran wrap.  Store in the freezer until needed.

When you need to use some frozen parsley, unwrap it and slice it thinly with a sharp knife.  Re-wrap the rest and put back into the freezer.  I used my dried parsley first, then went to the frozen.  But honestly freezing is less work than waiting for it to dry in the dehumidifier.  

Roll the rinsed and dried parsley into a log and wrap up to freeze.

I began this process in August and added more as the summer ended.
Parsley rolled and frozen
Parsley rolled and frozen

PKD and Kidney Health

In 2011 I had to have my appendix removed and that is when I first learned about poly-cystic kidney disease (PKD).  To be sure about appendicitis, I underwent a scan which showed "lots of cysts" on my kidneys and confirmed appendicitis.  At the time, being told about the cysts was the least of my worries, so I put the info on the back burner of my mind.  

Later on, as I began researching PKD, I found that there is no cure for it.  Since the medical community gives me no hope for getting better (they gave me pills to control my blood pressure), I began to research how to make my kidneys more healthy.   I have a new blog "Dustytoes" which is about my struggle with the disease.  It's a place to share information about helping the kidneys work better.  

Although I have read conflicting information about parstly being good for the kidneys, the overall health benefits of eating parsley have me convinced that I need to include it in my diet.

Please feel free to follow my Kidney Health board at Pinterest.

References & Disclaimer

I am not a doctor and the information on this page has come from sites I consider to be reliable, but use your own judgement.  Also ask a health professional if you have concerns and conditions that may be adversely affected by eating parsley.

If you have PKD (poly-cystic kidney disease), the PKD Foundation website has some very good information.

These sites have more information on the use of parsley as a healthy food source. The World's Healthiest Foods site, parsley page.

simple kidney cleanse Good Guy at Hubpages

You can read more about foods that contain oxalates at the World's Healthiest Foods site.


Updated: 04/12/2016, dustytoes
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?

Have you discovered the benefits of this amazing herb?

frankbeswick on 04/12/2016

I planted parsley in my herb beds a day or so ago, and there is more to come.

katiem2 on 04/12/2016

I am certainly going to grow my own organic parsley this spring. Thanks for the healthful info

dustytoes on 07/16/2015

Parsley is great - everyone should grow it - green thumb, or not!

blackspanielgallery on 07/14/2015

This is one of the few things that will actually grow when I plant it.

blackspanielgallery on 06/12/2015

I had no idea it is so beneficial to health. And, it is so easy to grow we can all use it.

dustytoes on 01/13/2015

I know! I can't believe I lived for so long not using fresh or dried parsley to cook. As a gardener I only recently began growing it, but wish I had started long ago.

ologsinquito on 01/13/2015

I find myself using parsley more and more. It's such a wonderful, versatile herb.

dustytoes on 12/31/2014

Thanks for the promo ologsinquito. I am enjoying my dried parsley now that winter is here, but I sure can't wait to grow it fresh again.

ologsinquito on 12/31/2014

I do want to try growing some of this and some other herbs this summer. Pinned to my natural remedies and healthy lifestyle board. I'm also tweeting.

WriterArtist on 11/07/2014

I love gardening and herbs are something that I use everyday. Parsley is a herb which spices up the cooking and a great ingredient for many delicious dishes.

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