Parsley Used to Its Fullest

This post might just surprise you. I certainly was when I began my research into how best to use my parsley. I discovered I’d been missing out on a whole lot. I’m curious to know if you, like me, were in the dark about all the things we could have been doing with our parsley. Hint, it’s a vegetable and an herb too. Parsley is a biennial or in other words it grows leaves one year, blossoms the next with seeds forming, and then the plant dies. A two year cycle.

This was no surprise since I’ve observed this but it wasn’t until I began looking at how to use the whole plant that my eyes got wide with surprise. Now this is my future plan with parsley.

  • The first year I start parsley in the house and transplant outside. I pick leaves to eat and to dry.
  • The second year I start parsley in the house and transplant outside. The previous years plants outdoors go to seed by summer’s end scattering them about. The plants I started indoors and transplanted out become the leaves I harvest and the plants for the next year’s seed crop. That way I have one and two year old plants in the garden.
  • The third year the first year’s plants which went to seed has younguns from the seeds that sprouted and I pluck those I don’t want and transplant the others into areas where they will do the most good. The roots are harvested on the two year plants at summers end. The plants I don’t want to save seed on, the foliage is eaten in salads and fed to the rabbits as a snack.
  • The fourth year I no longer need to start plants indoors but simply transplant some of the volunteers to better locations to keep the cycle going.

There might be a couple new things in this that you are not familiar with. Eating the parsley when it has blossomed but is not a plant suitable for parenting seems like a no-brainer but I’ve not done that.

Not eating the seeds since they are mildly toxic never came to mind.

Neither did eating the root. That one really blew my mind. It is an untapped food resource.

  • Calories: 55
  • Carbs: 12 grams
  • Fiber: 4 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Fat: 0.6 grams
  • Vitamin C: 55% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Vitamin B9 (folate): 45% of the DV
  • Potassium: 12% of the DV
  • Magnesium: 11% of the DV
  • Zinc: 13% of the DV
  • Phosphorus: 10% of the DV
  • Iron: 7% of the DV

The root looks like a mixture of a carrot and a parsnip and tastes like it too, I’m told. The pictures show it to be quite large. I never knew since I just let mine rot in the soil. Not bad since it feeds the soil but I could make better choices. Maybe there will even be enough for the rabbits and a treat for the sheep and goats. Time will tell.

You can eat the root raw in salads or cooked in soups and I’m thinking stir fries. It can be dried for later use also. Dried and powdered it might be good in noodles and maybe taco shells too. Oh…, maybe in mashed potatoes! I like parsley in potatoes. Definitely worth exploring.

Parsley freezes at 10 F. and right now I have a couple sorry looking late volunteer starts hugging the sidewalk. I need to dig up and transplant them into pots for indoor use this winter before that 10 degrees comes around and it looks like it might be soon. I’ll wait until it quits snowing, which is tomorrow.

Am I the only one missing out or have the rest of you not been eating the root too? As I explore ‘Eating the Whole Plant’ I can’t help but be amazed at how much food we are wasting.

(Sorry no photo. Apparently none in my archives and the one in the garden is presently buried in snow. I’ll add it when I can.)

3 thoughts on “Parsley Used to Its Fullest

  1. In the 1980s, which still in school, we learned parsley as an ornamental plant too. I happens to look great with alyssum and lobelia. Chard is a nice ornamental too. (Don’t get too carried away. My neighbors were not convinced that corn is an ornamental grass.)


      1. What was even more insulting about the attitude is that it is in the Santa Clara Valley, which was once famous for orchard production. As an arborist, I inspect trees for removal permits. Fruit trees here are exempt from requiring permits for removal. They are messy.


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