Curly parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. crispum), flat-leaf parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. neopolitanum), and root parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. tuberosum) are the three main types of parsley, and these are described in the following. They are all commonly known as garden parsley.7
Fresh parsley is highly prized in Central Europe and beyond as a condiment and garnish.1 All parts of the parsley plant have a fresh, fragrant aroma, but the stems, which are often discarded, are especially aromatic. Parsley root is the most pungent part of the plant.
Flat-leaf parsley has a stronger flavor than the curly variety, and parsley root is the most flavorful.2 But curly parsley continues to be the most common type of parsley in the Northern Hemisphere. What does parsley smell like? The leaves and stems are aromatic; however, the smell is difficult to describe.
Chopped parsley is used to season many cold dishes and is an ingredient in various salad dressings, green sauces, pestos, and North African grain salads (e.g., tabouleh in Lebanese cuisine). Here are two tabouleh recipes to try: Pomegranate and Apple Tabouleh and Cauliflower Tabouleh with Tomatoes, Olives, and Herbs. Parsley is most commonly found in Mediterranean cuisine.
Preparation: To preserve as many of the nutrients in parsley as possible, sprinkle chopped parsley on dishes just before serving, for example, on soups and potatoes. However, in France and Italy, it is common to add parsley at the beginning of cooking to add flavor to soups, tomato sauces, and vegetable dishes. Parsley is also cooked and puréed into soup.
When using parsley as a spice you should use the fresh leaves or heat them only briefly; otherwise, they will lose their distinctive flavor.5 However, in French cuisine, parsley is not only used as a bouquet garni but is also added to food at the start of cooking. It gives broths and sauces a flavorful base. When cooked, parsley can enhance the taste of other herbs and ingredients.9
Parsley has recently made a good contribution to “soul food.” Mix parsley with fresh ingredients such as fruits and vegetables for delicious and healthy smoothies. Root parsley, which is thin and brownish-yellow, also produces delicious dishes and can be added to grated raw salads, soups, and tender vegetables. The leaves can be chopped and used in the same way as other parsley varieties.2
In addition, parsley is an ingredient in the famous Hessian green sauce found in Frankfurt and Kassel recipes. This is one of the typical examples of German regional cuisine and is particularly popular in Hesse, Germany.
Smoothie recipes with parsley and root parsley:
- You can enhance various smoothies with fresh parsley. A simple basic recipe consists of an apple or a pear, a banana, about 100 ml of water, and half a bunch of parsley. All of the ingredients are processed with a high-speed blender or smoothie maker into a thick, creamy drink.
- Another tasty fruit smoothie option with parsley is a blend of an orange, a nectarine, a lemon, a half bunch of parsley, and 100 ml of water.
- You can create a nutrient-rich green smoothie from a few leaves of kale, half a bunch of parsley, a small piece of root parsley, orange juice, a banana, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and some water. Each of these recipe suggestions makes one large glass.
Making homemade parsley root soup:
Creamy parsley root soup doesn’t just taste good on cold winter days! To make the soup, add about 500 g of parsley root chopped into small pieces, a small leek sliced into rings, a piece of an apple, and two medium-size cubed potatoes, together with a chopped onion to a saucepan. Add one liter of vegetable stock and then season with nutmeg, pepper, paprika, and bay leaves. After simmering about 20 minutes, remove the bay leaves and blend the soup into a purée. If desired, finish off with vegan sour cream and finely chopped fresh parsley leaves. The soup serves four.
Purchasing — where to shop?
Parsley is sold packaged, in bunches, freshly chopped, freeze-dried, and even vacuum packed. Dehydrated products are less aromatic, but after rehydration they regain much of their flavor. A bunch of fresh parsley usually weighs about 30 g. Loose and prepackaged bunches sold by large distributors such as Morrissons, Tesco, Asda, and Co-Op (GB); Metro, Foodland, and Freshco (CAN); and Walmart, Whole Foods, and Costco (USA) are actually only 20 g. Make sure to buy organic parsley, for example, at organic grocery stores, at the weekly market, directly from farmers, or in a subscription box
Wild parsley can still be found today in the Mediterranean region and on the Canary Islands.5 Locals use “wild” root parsley to prepare savory soups and other dishes
Wrapped in damp paper towels and stored in a plastic bag, parsley remains fresh in the refrigerator for about a week or in the freezer for about 6 months. Freezing is the perfect way to store parsley because it doesn’t result in the loss of flavor that occurs during drying. Like carrots, root parsley can be stored at 2 °C for a longer period of time. Quote from Lis Bachmann: Culinary herbs smell and taste best when used fresh.
The same nutrients are found in the parsley-leaf varieties and root parsley, but in differing amounts. What vitamins are found in parsley? Fresh parsley contains a high proportion of vitamin K, namely a minimum of 360 and a maximum of 548 µg/100 g, which corresponds to an average of 454 µg/100 g (USDA28 erroneously shows 1'640 µg/100 g). Only amaranth leaves (1140), chard (830), dandelion (778), kale (704 English kale) have more of these. Garden cress, nettle, baby spinach, spinach, and cabbage offer similar nutritional value.
The vitamin C content is also quite high (133–160 mg/100 g): parsley contains a good three times as much as citrus fruits (50 mg/100 g) or strawberries (59 mg/100 g), but we eat only small amounts of parsley, and it isn’t enough to cover the daily requirement. Of course, vitamin A and beta-carotene are also found in parsley, but no more than in the usual amounts found in other vegetables.
It is worth mentioning that parsley contains relatively large amounts of the mineral iron (6.2 mg/100 g). In addition, it has the usual elements potassium, calcium, copper, and magnesium. On the other hand, parsley contains little zinc, manganese, or phosphorus. See the detailed nutrient tables below.13
The highest content of essential oils is found in flat-leaf parsley, especially apiol and myristicin. Curly parsley is particularly rich in myristicin, and root parsley in apiol.3 In curly parsley, the seeds have the highest content of essential oils (apiol and myristicin) as well as the flavone glycosides (apiin) and furanocoumarins.11
In addition to essential oils, parsley contains very small amounts of polyins and in the root small amounts of the furanocoumarins (coumarins) bergapten and isoimperatorin.5 The secondary plant substances of the flavonoids are also important: apigenin (flavone-apigenin) and coumarins. Parsley is considered very healthy, but we find the term superfood exaggerated. Today, many foods briefly receive the endorsement of superfood for marketing reasons, no matter whether they are healthy or unhealthy. Parsley seeds are particularly rich in parsley camphor.
Why is parsley so healthy? Parsley has cleansing, disinfecting, diuretic, antispasmodic, and expectorant effects. Thanks to its hydrating properties, parsley can alleviate urinary tract diseases (cystitis, inflammation of the prostate, and kidney stones).11,12 It is used in the treatment of gout, digestive disorders, high blood pressure, bad breath (especially against garlic), and skin diseases. In addition to relieving menstrual symptoms, parsley can also promote milk formation and uterine contractions after childbirth.12 Used externally, a parsley infusion can help alleviate insect bites.
Wikipedia: The essential oil causes strong urinary excretion, mainly through the irritating effect of phenylpropane on the renal parenchyma. In higher doses, however, apiol produces an increased contraction of the smooth muscles of the intestines, bladder, and especially the uterus.
The excessive consumption of parsley seeds (i.e., small, greenish-brown and sickle-shaped seeds with light furrows) as well as fresh leaves and stems should be avoided as all three contain apiol, which is potentially toxic. However, the quantities indicated in the recipes are harmless. Parsley is only toxic when its essential oils are consumed in excess.9,12
In the case of parsley, less is more. According to Wikipedia, high doses of apiol can lead to kidney and liver damage and cause allergic reactions.10 Parsley seeds have a contracting effect on the uterus, which is why it is essential to avoid them during pregnancy. In addition, the furanocoumarins contained in the plant can cause skin irritation when exposed to sunlight.11 Nerve inflammation and bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract can also be consequences of an overdose. Women who are pregnant and people with kidney diseases should refrain from eating parsley seeds.12 In addition, pregnant women should never eat parsley from wilting plants for the same reason: the apiol content is then very concentrated in the entire plant.15
Uses as a medicinal plant
Parsley has been known as a herb and medicinal plant for more than 2000 years. The Romans brought it to Central Europe, and at the end of the seventh century Karl der Grosse ordered its cultivation. Wikipedia: The dried and ripe seeds are used as natural remedies: Petroselini fructus and the fresh whole plant, Petroselinum (HAB).
In 2012, researchers at the University of Missouri published a study based on experiments conducted with mice showing that parsley (and celery) apigenin could be effective against the development of human breast cancer cells. The conclusion was: ‘We do not know exactly how apigenin does this on the chemical level,’ said Hyder. ‘We know that apigenin has slowed the progression of human breast cancer cells in three ways: By inducing cell death, inhibiting cell proliferation and reducing the expression of a gene associated with "cancergrowth". Blood vessels responsible for feeding cancer cells also had smaller diameters in mice treated with apigenin than in untreated mice. Smaller vessels mean a restricted nutrient flow to the tumors and may have contributed to starving the cancer and limiting its ability to spread.’ However, since no known target in the cancer cell can be identified, this study is likely to be the extent of research in this direction for some time. (News Bureau of the University of Missouri).18
Traditional medicine — naturopathy:
In naturopathy, dried and fresh parsley seeds are used as a tincture. However, this can lead to cardiac arrhythmia.
Parsley was originally only found in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Jordan.14 Parsley is widely used in Central Europe, the Caucasus, the Arabian Peninsula, Iran, Russia, India, and North America.6 Parsley growing in cold regions may need to be protected in the winter (e.g., mulching).6,12 In contrast to the Mediterranean region, parsley plants found growing in the wild in these other regions have most likely escaped from gardens (nonindigenous plants),8 especially those plants found in areas where garden waste is dumped where it does not belong (green waste dumping).11
Garden cultivation or pot planting:
Whether fresh from the herb garden, balcony, or pot on the windowsill, there’s not much science involved in growing your own parsley. This biennial herbaceous plant is hardy and tastes most aromatic in the first year. Parsley thrives best in a bright location without direct sunlight. The season (harvest time) for growing your own parsley is between April and October in the Northern Hemisphere, but you can purchase parsley that has been commercially grown (especially in France and the Netherlands) year-round. Care: Keep the soil moderately moist and fertilize sparingly.
Important to know: As a perennial herb, parsley begins to flower in the second year. You should harvest as many leaves as possible before the plants flower. Parsley is particularly aromatic shortly before flowering, but you should not use any parts of the plant after this has happened. After flowering, the proportion of the toxic apiol is so high that consumption can be harmful to health.15 Repot plants that are already fully grown; in fresh soil, the parsley can better grow and thrive.
Cultivation and harvest:
What is the best way to grow parsley? Parsley is cultivated in the sun or partial shade on fertile, well-drained, neutral to alkaline soils. The seeds are usually ripe in September, which means that parsley is sown from October to May and not from spring to late summer, as you may often read. The seeds should be planted about 3 cm deep with 15 cm between rows. This provides the dark conditions necessary for germination.
After three to six weeks, parsley begins to germinate. If you soak the seeds overnight in warm water, you can speed up the germination process. The main flowering season is in June and July (until August). Parsley leaves should be plucked and used before flowering occurs. You should use the leaves from the outside to the inside and leave the center of the plant intact; otherwise, no more shoots will grow. Parsley grown in a pot over the winter needs good protection against heavy frost, for example, by wrapping the pot with a fleece or better still by placing it in a light and cool room in the house.
Roots can be dug up in late autumn of the first year or in spring of the second year. The seeds are collected to make infusions and liquid extracts.11,12 If the soil has too little boron, the leaves curl up or die. Iron deficiency chlorosis causes the leaves to turn yellow from the edge toward the middle. Parsley is slow to germinate and needs a little dry organic fertilizer (not fresh). Coffee grounds can be used to fertilize parsley, but this shouldn’t be done on a regular basis as the grounds lower the pH of the soil. A nursery or garden center can advise you.
Danger of confusion:
Fool’s parsley, also called fool’s cicely or poison parsley (Aethusa cynapium) is another type of parsley.7 Fool’s parsley is poisonous for humans and can be confused with flat-leaf parsley. However, the distinction is simple. This is how Wikipedia describes it: In contrast to flat-leaf parsley, the smell of the plant, especially when it is crushed, is rather unpleasant and the underside of the leaf is very shiny. Fool’s parsley differs from garden parsley in that the flower heads are white instead of green, the short flower stalks spread from a common point (umbels), and they have a different smell.
Since fool’s parsley can be confused with flat-leaf parsley and is considered a relatively toxic weed, only curly parsley is usually grown in gardens, although its aroma is not as strong. Fool’s parsley contains a poisonous mixture of polyins, especially aethusine. The herb contains 0.2 % and the root 1 % polyins. Accidental consumption leads to burning in the mouth, pale skin, vomiting, cold sweats, rapid pulse, dilation of the pupils with visual disturbances, cramps, and paralysis
Umbelliferae, which include dill, caraway, coriander, and lovage as well as parsley, serve as bee magnets. They bloom in yellow and white umbels and if you let them blossom, they will attract bees. Dill, for example, is known to be a notable traditional plant with medium pollen and nectar values. These values indicate how much food a plant provides for insects. Among the frequent visitors of the umbellifers are the small hymenoptera, honey bees, hover flies, and beetles.16
Butterflies are also frequently found in gardens where there is a rich supply of nectar. However, some plants are also important food sources for their caterpillars. It should be noted that there can be no butterflies without caterpillars! Parsley serves as plant food, for example, for the swallowtail caterpillar.17
Parsley, a cone blossom plant (Apiaceae), is cultivated as garden parsley. Garden parsley is divided into two varieties: one with curly and one with flat, smooth leaves. Root parsley has a carrot-shaped root and smooth leaves.1
Where does the name parsley come from? The word parsley derives from “patros” (rock) and “selinon” (umbelliferous plant), which means a “umbelliferous plant growing on rocks” or celery.4
In Central Europe, parsley was hardly mentioned before the sixteenth century, but in around 820 parsley was cultivated for kitchen use in the spice garden of the monastery of St. Gallen. The herb is also contained in Hildegard von Bingen’s Physica.7
In English, the plant is called parsley or garden parsley. Japanese parsley Mitsuba, on the other hand, does not belong to the parsley genus. Corn parsley (Petroselinum segetum), however, is another variety of parsley found in the parsley genus; it is especially known in Southern and Western Europe.
Botanical designations: parsley seed = Petroselini Fructus (formerly Fructus Petroselini), parsley root = Petrosini Radix.6Rezső Soó was a Hungarian botanist who was responsible for differentiating the botanical names of parsley.
Literature — sources:
Many researchers do not believe that Wikipedia is an authoritative source. One reason for this is that the information about literature cited and authors is often missing or unreliable. Our pictograms for nutritional values provide also information on calories (kcal).
- Heimerans Küchenlexikon (Heimerans kitchen lexicon); Erhard Gorys; Deutscher Taschenbuchverlag (dtv), Munich (1977); ISBN 3-8063-1093-9
- Das grosse Buch der Hundert Gewürze und Kräuter (The big book of 100 spices and herbs); Philipp Notter; Edition Fona GMBH, Lenzburg (2004); ISBN 3-7750-0418-1
- Wikipedia (German language). Petersilie (parsley)
- Pahlow, M: Das gross Buch der Heilpflanzen. Gesund durch die Heilkräft der Natur. (The large book of medicinal herbs. Healthy through the remedies of nature) (2013); Nikol Verlagsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG. Hamburg.
- Das Buch der Gewürze (The book of spices), Roland Gööck, Heyne Bücher (1981).
- essbar, Wildpflanzen, Pilze, Muscheln für die Naturküche (Edible wild plants, mushrooms, and muscles from nature’s kitchen) (Food for Free); Richard Mabey, Haupt Verlag (2013).
- Hausbuch der Kräuter (House book of herbs). (1990); SDK Verlags GmbH. Stuttgart.
- Wikipedia (German language). Apiol.
- Fleischhauer, Steffen Guido; Guthmann, Jürgen; Spiegelberger, Roland: Enzyklopädie. Essbare Wildpflanzen. 2000 Pflanzen Mitteleuropas (Encyclopedia of edible wild plants. Two thousand plants of Central Europe). 1. Auflage (2013); AT Verlag. Aarau.
- Bown, Deni: Kräuter. Die grosse Enzyklopädie. Anbau und Verwendung (The large encyclopedia of cultivation and use). 2. Auflage (2015); Dorling Kindersly Verlag GmbH. München.
- USDA United States Department of Agriculture.
- R. Hand (2011): Apiaceae.: Datenblatt Petroselinum. In: Euro+Med Plantbase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity
- Gartenjournal. Wenn Petersilie blüht, ist die Erntezeit vorbei. (Garden journal: When parsley flowers, then harvest is over)
- Kremer, Bruno P. Mein Garten – Ein Bienenparadies (My garden — a paradise for bees). 2. Auflage. Bern; 2018. Haupt Verlag.
- NABU Naturschutzbund Deutschland. Ein Garten für Schmetterlinge (A garden for butterflies).
- Mafuvadze B et al.: Apigenin induces apoptosis and blocks "growing" of "MPA"-dependent BT-474 xenograft tumors.; doi: 10.1007/s12672-012-0114-x. Epub 2012 May 9