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Parsley

I love fresh parsley. I wash it, air dry it and store it in paper towels in a plastic bag in the frig.
I use some of it and either out of laziness or forgetfulness, it languishes in there, and I have to throw the rest out. This week I decided to try something new. I washed it, dried on paper towels and stored it like flowers in a pitcher of water on the counter. I had thoughts of setting it on the shelf of the frig, but thought it might get knocked over. I change the water every day and it's been there for four days now and looks as fresh as the first day. I've used it every day for cooking or garnish and it looks like it's going to last long enough for me to use it up. It looks pretty on the counter, reminds me that it's there, and it's easy to cut a sprig or bunch. Thought I'd share that. Anybody else have any little tricks to extend the life of produce? I know there are probably old threads like this, but thought I'd start a new one.

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  1. That works with basil too!

    I always end up with leftover fresh cilantro. I chop the whole lot and whatever is leftover, I put in a zip top bag in the freezer. I break off chunks as I need it in small quantities and it is still very fresh and flavorful. You can also do this with parsley. This only works in some dishes, as you do get a darkening of the brilliant green when it is frozen and a texture difference. For instance, I wouldn't make a tabbouleh with frozen parsley but I always throw frozen cilantro in at the end of cooking coconut curry.

    1. Normally we just wrap the stems in paper towels and keep them wet in a bag in the fridge. Lasts long enough to get used up (mostly).

      5 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        This is pretty much how I do it if I have excess.
        Except after I wash/rinse off the bundle, I wrap it in a damp/wet papertowel, put it in a plastic bag, and store it in the fridge. Lasts for over a week like this.

        1. re: Novelli

          wait. . .you wrap the whole bundle in a damp towel or just the end of the stems?

          I try to keep my bundle as dry as possible and wrap them in a dry paper towel.

          1. re: seamunky

            The whole thing.

            I'll pull of 2 squares of papertowel, get them damp, lay them open on the counter, then place the bundle of cilantro/parsley diagonally on the papertowel and roll it up.

            1. re: Novelli

              hmmm. . .I'll have to try this. I always assumed I didn't want the leaves to get wet. You know how veggies transpire when kept in a plastic bag? My cilantro leaves always spoil when they touch the wet plastic bag or touch other wet leaves.

        2. re: Harters

          "Normally we just wrap the stems in paper towels and keep them wet in a bag in the fridge. Lasts long enough to get used up (mostly)."

          I do that also, but forget it is in the fridge. To the OP's point, if it is out there on the counter one may wind up using it in many more dishes than usual. Good idea!

        3. I remember my mom putting the stem ends of the parsley in water, and that seemed to work pretty well--it lasted a few days (I guess ambient temperature would be important too).

          1. Good idea! I am forever finding half-full bags of yellowed parsley or cilantro in the fridge. Hopefuly I can find some counterspace for this.

            1. It will last even longer in the "vase" if you clip the stems every couple days.

              1. If you plant some parsley seedsin a pot in the spring, by summer you'll have enough to clip. Bring it inside during the winter and stick it in a sunny windowsill and you'll have your own fresh parsley all year long. Even better, try one pot of curly and one of the Italian flat-leaf variety.

                1. I keep parsley and cilantro in heavy glasses that sort of look like French caféware, about 5 or 6 inches tall, and invert the plastic bag I brought it home in over it. Both keep weeks and weeks just by changing the water a couple of times per week. If any of it goes yellow, I just toss those stems out.

                  My current parsley is at least 3 weeks old, and looks just as fresh today as when I brought it home.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: RelishPDX

                    I use this method too. It works great! I've used it with mint and basil too. Basil just doesn't hold up as long as the other herbs in my experience. I do trim the stems first.

                    1. re: RelishPDX

                      I've done that too, but in the fridge the jar sometimes gets knocked over -- lots of water and parsley/cilantro all over the place. Maybe I'll try leaving it on the counter. That should work at this time of year, if not in the hot, humid summer. And it'll also be a reminder that I have parsley/cilantro, and save me rooting around in the fridge trying to find it when I'm in a rush.

                    2. I got reminded abut parsley watching the Two Fat Ladies' show. Their recipes, as gutbombing as they were, included a lot of parsley wherever applicable. love the taste and smell. I'm ging to use a lot more of it starting now.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: EWSflash

                        Parsley is probably the most used herb in traditional British cooking. It's because it's readily available and grows very well in our cold , wet climate.

                        1. re: Harters

                          I noticed it never freezes in the garden. Maybe it's too hot and dry here to grow huge wild bunches of it, but I'd like to.

                        2. re: EWSflash

                          So miss the Two Fat Ladies . . .

                        3. Same thing with asparagus, but I put it in the refrig.

                          1. Herbs keep best in bouquets, in comparison to all other storage methods. However, they will last longest in the fridge. If you don't have a herb vase, use a medium glass. Add about an inch of water to the container and put in the herb bunch. Take a thin plastic bag (the kind you buy produce in will do), slip it over the foliage and tie it loosely at the bottom. I keep my herb bouquets on a bottom shelf in the fridge door; they never spill there. This technique works for other herbs besides parsley. It also works for leafy greens and some vegetables.

                            1. My mother-in-law, who is Italian, taught me this trick.

                              Buy lots of flat-leaf parsley - bunches and bunches. Submerge it in water and rinse carefully several times, shake off the excess water, and then put the bunches into glasses of water and let the leaves dry off during the day. (not in sunlight in your kitchen)

                              Once the leaves are all dry, pick through and remove any bad stems, then really finely chop the leaves on a clean cutting board. Once it's all chopped up, put it in a tupperware container and freeze it. Then you can use as needed for soups, stews, risottos.

                              It maintains the flavor and makes using fresh herbs easy. It's worth chopping up a lot at a time; once you have it to hand, you'll use it up.

                              One caveat: make sure the leaves are really dry, otherwise you'll get frozen clumps.

                              1. Does anyone have any idea why you can only buy parsley in gigantic bunches? Even if I use it in every dish, the amount that is in 1 bundle at the store is nearly equivalent to a tree. Is there just a lot of parsley around?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  Most likely because it takes a lot to make a little. I can pick a big handful-size bunch of Italian flat-leaf parsley, & after rinsing & picking off all the leaves & thickest stems, & then chopping/mincing, I'm looking at maybe 1/2 cup?

                                  1. re: Bacardi1

                                    Yea, I guess it just it in more tbsp size quantities so it ends up being a lot for me. Any tips to keep it fresh for longer than a few days?

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      I grow it, & since it's VERY hardy (I can even pick it from underneath snow), I only have to buy it sometimes from the supermarket in late winter & early spring before my new crop is large enough to use. I even grow a BIG pot of it on my deck right outside my kitchen door - really handy, & also lasts right through the winter. Since parsley is a biennial, when it sends up new sprouts the following spring, those go direct to blooming & setting seed - which is GREAT!! I simply set a tray of potting soil next to the pot, the seeds drop into it, & I have a fresh crop to replant into the pot the followng Spring. If you keep up with this, you won't have to buy parsley seed ad infinitum!!

                                      BUT - when I do buy supermarket Italian flat-leaf parsley (the only kind I buy - dislike the curly stuff except for decoration), I simply leave it in its plastic supermarket bag, but leave the bag open/untied. Lasts a couple of weeks at least this way in my refrigerator crisper drawer.

                                2. My mom used to always do that--leaving it out on the counter in water, like a bouquet. Great idea. I just never got in the habit; this reminds me now.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Wawsanham

                                    I used to do that, but my cats considered it a salad bar, so I keep it in the fridge now. However, it really is so easy to grow - even in containers - & can be harvested well into winter; so these days I just pick it fresh as I need it.

                                    1. re: Bacardi1

                                      Did your cat leave you any, or hog it all up?

                                      1. re: Wawsanham

                                        Pretty much hogged up, & what was left wasn't exactly appetizing - lol!!

                                        But I have a big pretty green-glazed weatherproof pottery container on the deck that is chock-full of lush Italian flat-leaf wonderfulness. It'll last me pretty much through most of the winter unless we have a spell of really frigid weather, & next spring I'll let it bolt (go to seed) & sprinkle the seed back into the pot for the next generation. Have been doing this for several seasons now.