It’s always been intriguing to me that despite how often our weather fluctuates, many of my summer herbs seem to shake off the temporary freezes and just keep on going for weeks into the fall. Some years I’ve experimented to find out how long they would last in certain temperatures; other years I wait to see if they’ll actually go to seed so I can collect them and plant in the next spring, experimenting with their viability.
My later summer garden herbs
Safe to say, however, that when the cold remains for days at a time, it’s the moment to salvage what you have left of certain herbs before they turn bitter, or worse yet, die.
This is the best way I’ve found to preserve fresh parsley. My aunt taught this preservation method to me and made me watch her carefully so that I didn’t miss a step, insisting that if I did it the right way, I could have wonderful parsley all winter long to use in soups, stews, and more.
She was right. It works so well, I had to share it with you.
And in the spirit of tradition, I have to insist you don’t miss a step, either…
First, pick out your favorite kind of parsley, most commonly found here is the Italian flat leaf or the curly parsley.
Italian flat leaf parsley in a salad spinner
I like to spray all of my produce with white vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes before rinsing with cool water. White vinegar is a natural cleaner and won’t affect the taste of the food as long as you rinse it off. You’ll still need to rinse well to remove dirt.
Next, remove all the stems so you have just the florets/leaves left. Put these through a salad spinner to get all of the water out. If you don’t have a salad spinner use a cotton towel to dry them completely. If you don’t dry them well, they won’t freeze well, either.
You could also put the parsley through the spinner with the stems on, but that just takes up unnecessary space in the salad spinner.
Next, you can chop the parsley florets/leaves as fine as you like, depending on how you want to use them once they come out of the freezer. Keep in mind that you won’t be able to use them in fresh salads (they’ll be too wet), so it all depends how you plan to season your cooked dishes.
This is what the curly parsley looks like when you’ve chopped off most of the stems, but you could go even further up to cut them. The reason I cut them off is because they tend to be bitter when cooked. Don’t waste anything, though. If you have a garden or somewhere to compost these stems, now’s the time to use recycle these kitchen scraps.
The last step is to once again ensure that the leaves are completely dry and then place them in a freezer safe container or safe plastic freezer bag. Cover or seal airt tight and it should keep fresh like this for several months. The nice thing is that the leaves don’t generally clump together so you can just take any small or large amount out at a time that you need.
I like this method more than the common ice-cube tray and olive oil method, for two reasons:
1. Since this way works great, I don’t need to use any oil, which can sometimes get messy and precious olive oil might be wasted.
2. I’m not such a tedious person, so those little squares in ice cube trays just don’t cut it for me. I like to be able to throw the parsley into a bowl or bag and be done with it. Simple. Not messy. Easier.
Of course if your method is different, that’s fine, too.
It’s amazing how many different ways things can be done, and be done well.
We don’t have to all do things the same when it comes to food preparation, but one thing that matters to me is that nothing is ever wasted…
What’s your tried and true method for preserving parsley?