Best Way to Store Fresh Parsley

Realization of the Day:
I often take parsley for granted, but if there isn't any growing in the garden I really miss it. It's just so versatile—and tasty. I love it in this Confetti Egg Salad Recipe I recently wrote about on Farmgirl Fare.

Like so many things, the very best place to store your parsley is out in the garden, still attached to the plant. But it won't stay out there indefinitely, maintaining its ready-to-pick state until you're actually ready to pick it. (Why do I always forget this basic rule of growing things?)

This curly parsley is from a plant that overwintered in the greenhouse. I usually grow Italian flat leaf parsley from seed (my favorite variety is Prezzemolo Gigante D'Italia, which I order from Pinetree Garden Seeds; 600 seeds for $1.15), but a friend who was experiencing a parsley explosion in his garden last spring offered me a couple of curled parsley plants, and I never say no to free herbs.

Parsley is a biennial, which means it requires two years to complete its lifecycle. The first year the leaves grow, and the second year the plant blooms, produces seeds, and then dies. Many gardeners grow edible biennials such as beets, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, celery, lettuce, and Swiss chard as annuals. (I grow Swiss chard—which I'm crazy about and which is so easy to grow from seed—as both an annual and a biennial, overwintering several plants each year in the greenhouse under protective blankets and old sheets.)

Once the temperatures started warming up, my scraggly little greenhouse parsley plant took off, but then it began to bolt. I snipped off the main center stem, plunked it into a 'vase' of water, and set it on the kitchen counter. Three weeks later it looked almost as good as the day I picked it. I changed the water once.

Last year I wrote about the best ways to store fresh basil (this post also talks about my new found love for purple basil), and I mentioned that one of our lamb customers keeps a big bunch of basil in a pitcher of water on her kitchen counter during the summer. I said I needed to try this, and several of you let me know that you store your basil this way, too.

I made some basil 'bouquets,' last summer and it worked great, so I figured I'd try it this year with parsley, too. I usually store parsley in the refrigerator (often for several weeks), washed and wrapped in a plastic bag with a paper towel, but having it out on the counter is so much more fun—and visible. I'm one of those 'out of sight, out of mind' people, so a big green reminder in the middle of the kitchen is exactly what I need.

A lot of sources advise you to store your fresh herbs in a glass of water in the refrigerator, but I don't find it necessary. Herbs thrive outside in the sun and heat, and if the water is keeping them from wilting, there's really no reason to chill them. Besides, I know I'd probably reach into the fridge and knock the glass over an hour after putting it in there.

As for this cute rooster glass, I spied it during a recent trip to World Market (I love that store) and couldn't resist bringing home a couple of them. At the rate we tend to break glasses around here, though (I'm down to my last little World Market sheep glass), I'm thinking I probably should have bought four.

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