Parsley

Parsley

ParsleyParsley is used in a variety of different ways. Chefs use it to enhance the flavor of their meals, it is used as decoration and it can even be used in certain drinks. Parsley is also a source of healthy nutrients which provide great health benefits for the human body. This article will start with providing some background information. Then it will address the health benefits and give tips on how to grow parsley.

Description

Parsley is an incredibly nutritious food product. Since it is also a very versatile herb, it can be used in a wide range of dishes. However, parsley is not as much appreciated as it should. Many people recognize parsley as being the decorative herb which is used by many top-chefs. Often they forget that it is a rich source of nutrients and that is has its own unique and distinct taste. Parsley brings a vibrant taste to every meal it is added to. Parsley is not to be confused with coriander or cilantro. While the two green herb might look very similar, they are distinct in taste. There are two types of parsley which are used most. One type of parsley is Italian flat parsley and the other is curly parsley. Both types are sold commonly, but some places might prefer working with one specific type. The Italian flat parsley has a more bitter taste compared to the curly type. One can also identify a third type of parsley. This type is called turnip-rooted parsley. This type is grown for its roots. Turnip-rooted parsley is often compared to burdock and salsify since they have a similar taste. The family to which parsley belongs to is called Umbelliferea, which also included many other green herbs. The scientific name of parsley is Petroselinum crispum.

History

The origins of parsley can be found in the Mediterranean region in the south of Europe. Parsley has been cultivated for over 2000 years in this region. Before parsley was used as a culinary product, it was used for medical purposes by the ancient Greeks. For this population, parsley was considered to be a sacred product. The ancient Greeks used parsley to decorate the tombs of those who were deceased. Moreover, they also used it to adorn those people who won athletic contests. The use of parsley as a decorative product thus has a long history and finds its origins in the ancient Roman times. It is not sure when parsley actually began to be used as a herb for cooking. Scientists estimate that the first use of parsley as a food product was during the Middle Ages in different parts of Europe. Historians have found evidence that the Charlemagne and its people were probably the first community to use parsley as a herb. There are certain countries where curled parsley is more popular than Italian flat parsley. The preference for curled parsley most likely stems in the ancient use of parsley. In some cultures, flat parsley very much resembles fool’s parsley. Fool’s parsley was a poisonous weed and was therefore avoided. The third type of parsley turnip-rooted parsley is a new species of parsley. It is slowly starting to become more popular and more widely used in restaurants.

Health benefits

Besides the fact that it bring a unique flavor to a meal, parsley also has multiple health benefits. Parsley does not contain any calories, fat or levels of cholesterol. Instead, it is a source of vitamins, fiber, minerals and anti-oxidants. Parsley is actually considered to be one of the highest rated plant sources with quality antioxidant activities. The herb also helps in controlling levels of cholesterol found in blood and it can protect cells from being damaged by free radical cells. Parsley also contain the oil eugenol. Eugenol is considered to be an essential oil since it is used in many therapeutic clinics. In dentistry  the essential oil eugenol is used for local anesthetic. Scientists also found that eugenol plays a role in reducing blood sugar levels among those people diagnosed with diabetics. However, in order to confirm these findings, more research needs to be done on this topic. Moreover, the herb also contain calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. Potassium does not only help the body to control heart rates, but it also controls the blood pressure. Iron is an important component which plays a crucial role in the production of red blood cells. Fresh parsley leaves also contain many essential vitamins. Some of these vitamins include vitamin B3, vitamin B2 and vitamin B1. All these vitamins play an important role in the protein and fat metabolism. They act as co-enzymes within the human body. Vitamin K has also been found to be present in parsley. Recently, vitamin K has been found to play a role in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. It can help to prevent or limit neuronal damage  in the brain.


How to grow parsley

It is very easy to grow parsley in your own garden. By planting your own parsley, you will know that it is free from pesticides and you will be able to use the herb whenever you want. When planting parsley, make sure that you plant the parsley seeds in rich and moist soil. It is recommended to plant the seeds about 6 to 8 inches apart from each other. Also, make sure to plant it in soil which is weed-free. In this way you will be able to see the parsley growing. You will most likely see the parsley growing after about three weeks. If you want to make the seedlings grow as well, you can use a fluorescent light. Do make sure that when you use a fluorescent light, it is about two inches apart from the leaves. In order to ensure the best growth of the herb, the temperature of the soil should have an average of about 21 degrees. Moreover, make sure that you water the seeds often to prevent the seeds from drying out. Pay extra attention to watering the seeds in summer since they will have more chance of drying out during this period of time. You will recognize that parsley is ready to be harvested when the leaf stems have three segments. When picking the parsley that you will be using in food preparation, cut leaves from the outer parts. The inner parts of the plant should be left to mature. If you want to store your own parsley inside, you can put a few leaf stalks in a cup of water and store it in the refrigerator. The next section will provide more detail on how to select and store parsley. If you want to have fresh parsley during the winter period, you can either buy it in the supermarket or replant a parsley plant. If you decide to go with the latter, put the parsley plant in a pot and put it close to a sunny window.

How to use parsley

As mentioned, parsley is a versatile herb and can be used in a range of different dishes. Fresh chopped parsley is a great combination with potatoes, poultry dishes or seafood. Most people describe the flavor of parsley as being a bit spicy and being peppery. Parsley also goes well with tomato-based sauces, such as spaghetti sauce. It is also a great combination with any egg dish. Some people also like adding parsley to their morning smoothies to give it some extra flavor. Parsley is also a great addition to a quiche, frittata or omelet. Since parsley also does not contain any calories, it fits perfectly with most diet-meals

How to select and store

Most stores sell parsley in their herb section. Usually you will be able to find both fresh and dried parsley in the supermarkets. When choosing parsley, try and go for the fresh parsley instead of the dried version. This is because fresh parsley has a more flavor and gives your dish more taste compared to adding dried parsley. When picking parsley, there are a few things you should pay attention to. Go for parsley that has a deep green color. Also, the herb  should have a crisp and it should look fresh. Thus, make sure that the green leaves do not have any white or yellow spots. When these spots are present, it usually means they are damaged or they have gone bad. If possible, also try and choose parsley which is organic. In this way you will know for sure that the herb has not been exposed to pesticides. Dried parsley flakes are usually sold in the same section as other dried herbs and spices. When storing fresh parsley, put it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. If you find that the parsley is slightly wilted, you can sprinkle it with a bit of water. There is no need to dry the leaves. By adding a bit of water to the leaves, or washing it, the parsley will stay fresh for longer in the refrigerator. It is also possible to store parsley in the freezer in case you have access parsley. Lay the parsley out on a kitchen cloth and let it dry. Once it has dried, store the parsley in a sealed container in a dry place. Surprisingly, curly leaf parsley is best kept when stored in the frozen. Italian flat parsley, on the other hand, is best kept when dried. Freezing parsley can cause the herb to lose its crispness. Thus, parsley is best used fresh.





                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Article written by: SarahAjaoud
Times read: 882x
Added: 19-11-2016 16:52
Last modified: 18-12-2016 19:45

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