Pars­ley — the clas­sic herb

Who does not know it, the pars­ley. It is prob­a­bly one of the best known and most ver­sa­tile kitchen herbs. Whether as a dec­o­ra­tion on the schnitzel or as a sea­son­ing in sauces and soups, it is impos­si­ble to imag­ine today’s cui­sine with­out it. But pars­ley has much more to offer than just look­ing and tast­ing good. In the past, pars­ley was not used as a spice, but as a med­i­c­i­nal plant, as it has many pos­i­tive effects on our body. Among the Greeks, it was so sacred that the herb was pre­sent­ed to the win­ners of com­pe­ti­tions as a wreath.

The ori­gin, prop­er­ties and his­to­ry of parsley

Pars­ley is orig­i­nal­ly from the Mediter­ranean region. From Moroc­co, Alge­ria and Tunisia, it spread across Cen­tral Europe. Unlike today, where the plant is known more as a spice, at that time it was con­sid­ered a high­ly val­ued rem­e­dy and was con­sid­ered sacred in ancient Greece. That is why it was dis­trib­uted as a wreath to the win­ners in com­pe­ti­tions. It was con­sid­ered espe­cial­ly aphro­disi­ac, diuret­ic and digestive.

From Greece also comes its name, because lit­er­al­ly trans­lat­ed from the Greek pars­ley means rock cel­ery. The name was giv­en to it because the plant used to grow in the rocky regions and the leaf shape resem­bled celery.

Mean­while, the pars­ley is grown world­wide. The most impor­tant cul­ti­va­tion areas here are, among oth­ers, the Nether­lands and France. Grown wild, it can still be found on steep­er moun­tain slopes that are sun­ny or in par­tial shade.

Nowa­days, a dis­tinc­tion is made between three types of parsley:

  • Leaf pars­ley, which is divid­ed into two subspecies:
    • Flat leaf pars­ley (Pet­roselinum crispum var. neopolitanum)
    • Curly pars­ley (Pet­roselinum crispum var. crispum)
  • Root pars­ley (Pet­roselinum crispum var. tuberosum)
  • Flat-leaved pars­ley (Pet­roselinum crispum var. latifolium)

The com­mon pars­ley for us, which grows in our gar­den or can be found in the super­mar­ket, is the leaf pars­ley (smooth and curly). The dif­fer­ence between smooth and curly is in the taste and leaf shapes. Thus, the smooth pars­ley tastes more intense and stronger than the curly pars­ley. The curly pars­ley, on the oth­er hand, has the dis­ad­van­tage of being more dif­fi­cult to clean, as insects and soil often get stuck in its leaves. How grue­some their leaves last depends on how they are grown. The plant can reach a height of growth from 25 to 80 cm.

The root pars­ley or pars­ley root looks like a parsnip and tastes sweet. It is used as a veg­etable for soups. The root can grow up to 15 cm long and is whitish to yel­low­ish. Pars­ley can also devel­op flow­ers and fruits. It usu­al­ly does not flower until the sec­ond year. But when it flow­ers, cau­tion is advised because it then devel­ops api­ol, a poi­so­nous com­po­nent of the plant’s essen­tial oil. From the flow­ers lat­er devel­op egg-shaped and gray­ish-yel­low­ish fruits.

The ingre­di­ents of parsley

Among oth­er things, pars­ley con­tains vit­a­mins A, B, C and K, as well as numer­ous min­er­als such as iron, zinc, potas­si­um and mag­ne­sium. How­ev­er, you do not take up too many nutri­ents per se, because you usu­al­ly do not eat more than 10 g of pars­ley per meal. How­ev­er, these 10 g are suf­fi­cient, for exam­ple, to cov­er the dai­ly require­ment of vit­a­min K.

The effect of pars­ley on our body

As already men­tioned, in the tra­di­tion­al med­i­cine of var­i­ous coun­tries pars­ley has long been con­sid­ered a med­i­c­i­nal plant. The Greeks used it as an aphro­disi­ac and to strength­en sol­diers. In the Mid­dle Ages it was used for nose­bleeds, stom­ach prob­lems and uri­nary stones. Today it is hard­ly used as a med­i­c­i­nal plant. Nev­er­the­less, its ingre­di­ents have anti­sep­tic, anti-inflam­ma­to­ry, appe­tiz­ing, mild anti-anx­i­ety, anti-stress, par­tial­ly antimi­cro­bial and anti-flat­u­lent effects. In addi­tion to the inter­nal effects, pars­ley also has exter­nal effects on our body. Thus, it soothes dry and flaky skin and hair.

An inter­est­ing fact is also that it can neu­tral­ize the smell of gar­lic through its essen­tial oils.

Oth­er ben­e­fi­cial effects of the plant include:

  • Detox­i­fi­ca­tion of the body, thanks to the chloro­phyll contained.
  • Pre­ven­tion of kid­ney and blad­der stones through flush­ing therapies.
  • Can favor­ably influ­ence blood sug­ar lev­els and there­by help with diabetes.
  • May relieve itch­ing after a mos­qui­to bite.

Pro­motes men­stru­a­tion due to the tox­ic api­ol (cau­tion: in high con­cen­tra­tions can cause abor­tion) and relieves men­stru­al cramps, as the plant is also antispasmodic.

Pars­ley in the kitchen

Quite clas­si­cal­ly, pars­ley is used as a spice and to dec­o­rate dish­es. It man­ages to spice up almost any dish and fits espe­cial­ly well in sauces, soups, dips, pestos, sal­ads and spreads. Here you should only note that you add the fresh pars­ley only at the end. The dried pars­ley, on the oth­er hand, can be cooked with it. Not only in dish­es, the plant does well, you can also mix it into smooth­ies or juices pure. A pars­ley tea is also delicious.

Buy­ing and stor­ing parsley

When buy­ing should look at the leaves. These should look strong and green. Yel­low­ish leaves, on the con­trary, may indi­cate pests or too dry soil. 

In addi­tion to fresh pars­ley in a pot, it is also avail­able pack­aged as a small bunch, freeze-dried or dried. You can also just buy the seeds and grow your own plant at home.

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