How to Store Parsley

Parsley is a versatile herb that can elevate the flavor profile of numerous dishes, from garnishes to integral components of sauces and marinades. However, preserving its freshness can be a challenge once you’ve brought it home from the market or harvested it from your garden.

Parsley stored in a glass of water on a kitchen counter, with a plastic bag covering the leaves to retain freshness

The key to prolonging the life of your parsley involves proper storage methods that retard spoilage and maintain its vibrant color and crisp texture.

To ensure that your parsley stays fresh for as long as possible, you have three common storage options: the countertop, the refrigerator, or the freezer.

Each method comes with its own set of steps that cater to different needs, whether you’re looking for short-term convenience or longer-lasting preservation.

Storing parsley correctly not only retains its culinary qualities but also reduces food waste, enabling you to enjoy the herb’s full potential over an extended period.

Selecting Parsley for Storage

To ensure your parsley stays fresh for as long as possible, it’s crucial to start with the best quality leaves and prepare them properly before storage.

Identifying Fresh Parsley

When selecting parsley from your garden or the grocery store, look for bright green leaves that are firm and perky. The leaves should not exhibit any signs of wilting or yellowing, as these are indicators of age or poor quality. Always opt for bunches with a vibrant color and a fresh scent.

Preparing Parsley for Storage

Before storing parsley, give the leaves a gentle but thorough rinse under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris. Shake off excess water, or use a salad spinner to dry the leaves with care.

It’s important to remove as much moisture as possible to prevent mold and decay during storage.

Refrigerator Storage Techniques

Proper storage in the refrigerator can significantly extend the freshness of parsley, ensuring that this herb retains its flavor and texture for as long as possible.

Using Paper Towels and Plastic Bags

To maintain the quality of parsley in your refrigerator, you’ll want to start by washing and thoroughly drying the herb.

Excess moisture can lead to decay, so it’s crucial to ensure that the parsley leaves are dry to the touch.

Lay the parsley out on a clean surface and pat it dry with paper towels.

Next, wrap the dry parsley in a fresh paper towel. The paper towel will absorb any residual moisture and protect the parsley from wilting.

Place the wrapped parsley gently into a plastic bag. A resealable plastic bag works well for this purpose.

Before sealing, expel as much air as possible from the bag to slow down the oxidation process.

Finally, store the bag in the produce drawer of your refrigerator. This specialized drawer is designed to hold produce at an optimal humidity level, which helps to keep your parsley fresh.

Storing Parsley in Water

An alternative method to keep parsley at its best in the refrigerator is to treat it like a bouquet of flowers.

Start by snipping a small amount off the bottom of the parsley stems. This fresh cut will allow the stems to absorb water more efficiently.

Fill a jar or a glass with an inch or two of water. Place the freshly cut stems of parsley into the water. Be sure only the stems are submerged, not the leaves.

Cover the parsley loosely with a plastic bag. This creates a mini greenhouse environment that maintains humidity and keeps the parsley vibrant.

Store the jar in the refrigerator, changing the water every few days to prevent bacterial growth.

Freezing Parsley

Freezing parsley is a great method to preserve its flavor and maintain its vibrant green color. You can choose to freeze parsley using oil or water, or keep it dry in freezer bags to suit your future culinary uses.

Freezing Parsley in Oil

To freeze parsley in oil, roughly chop your fresh parsley leaves and pack them into an ice cube tray, filling each compartment about two-thirds full.

Pour olive oil over the parsley until the leaves are fully submerged, then freeze.

The resulting herb-infused oil cubes can be easily popped out and added to soups, stews, or sauces for a burst of flavor.

  • Materials needed:
    • Fresh parsley leaves
    • Olive oil
    • Ice cube tray
  • Procedure:
    1. Chop parsley leaves
    2. Fill ice cube tray compartments two-thirds with parsley
    3. Pour olive oil to cover leaves
    4. Freeze until solid

Freezing Parsley in Water

If you prefer to freeze parsley in water, start by washing and finely chopping the parsley.

Distribute the chopped parsley into an ice cube tray and add water until the cubes are just covered.

The key is to make sure the cubes are fully frozen to prevent freezer burn.

These parsley cubes can be thawed directly in soups or added as a finishing touch to a dish.

  • Materials needed:
    • Fresh parsley leaves
    • Water
    • Ice cube tray
  • Procedure:
    1. Clean and chop parsley
    2. Place in ice cube tray compartments
    3. Add water to cover the chopped parsley
    4. Freeze and use as needed

Using Freezer Bags for Dry Parsley

When you wish to preserve parsley without any added moisture, drying it before freezing is your best bet.

Ensure your parsley leaves are completely dry after washing them. Remove the leaves from the stems and spread them out on a baking sheet or clean cloth to dry.

Once dried, place the leaves in a single layer inside a freezer bag, removing as much air as possible before sealing to prevent freezer burn.

  • Materials needed:
    • Clean, dry parsley leaves
    • Freezer bags
  • Procedure:
    1. Dry parsley leaves thoroughly
    2. Place in a single layer in a freezer bag
    3. Press out the air and seal the bag
    4. Freeze flat to keep leaves separated

Drying Methods for Parsley

Drying parsley is an excellent way to preserve its flavor for use in your cooking throughout the year. The key is to remove moisture adequately so that your parsley retains its qualities while being protected from mold and decay. Here are the recommended techniques to dry parsley.

Air-Drying Parsley

To air-dry parsley, wash and thoroughly dry your parsley before tying the stems together.

Hang the bouquet upside down in a warm, dry place with good air circulation, away from direct sunlight.

Ideal conditions are a room with low humidity and a temperature around 70°F (21°C).

This process can take 1-2 weeks, and you’ll know the parsley is ready when it crumbles easily between your fingers.

Using a Dehydrator

Dehydrators provide a controlled environment for drying herbs like parsley.

After washing and drying the leaves, place parsley on the dehydrator trays in a single layer.

Set your dehydrator to the herb setting or around 95°F (35°C), which is the optimal temperature to preserve color and flavor.

It can take 1-4 hours; check every 30 minutes to ensure they don’t over-dry.

Microwave Drying Method

For a quick drying solution, the microwave can be used.

Lay clean, dry parsley leaves between two paper towels and microwave them on high power for 30 seconds at a time.

Check after each interval to avoid overcooking. When the leaves are dry and crisp, usually after 2-3 minutes, the process is complete.

Oven Drying Technique

Oven drying is another method, although it demands a bit more attention.

First, preheat your oven to its lowest setting, preferably below 200°F (93°C).

Place clean, dry parsley on a parchment-lined tray and leave the oven door slightly open to allow moisture to escape.

The herbs should be dry in about 1-3 hours, but you should check and turn them every 30 minutes to ensure they do not burn.

Alternative Storage Ideas

Parsley stored in mason jars on a kitchen shelf, hanging in bunches, or frozen in ice cube trays with olive oil

When looking to preserve parsley beyond the usual refrigeration methods, consider two flavorful alternatives: turning it into parsley butter or pesto, or using it to create herb-infused oils. These options not only extend the herb’s life but also add a distinct touch to your dishes.

Parsley Butter or Pesto

Creating parsley butter is straightforward.

Simply chop parsley finely and mix it with softened butter in a food processor.

Then, distribute the mixture into an ice cube tray and freeze.

Once solid, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag for long-term storage.

When you need an aromatic boost in your cooking, pop out a cube and melt it into your dish.

  • Parsley Pesto: To make pesto, blend fresh parsley leaves with pine nuts, garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, olive oil, and a pinch of salt in your food processor. Store your vibrant green pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a quick pasta sauce, or freeze in small portions for future use.

Herb-Infused Oils

Herb-infused oils can capture the essence of parsley and are perfect for dressings or cooking. To make your own:

  1. Wash and completely dry parsley leaves.
  2. Roughly chop the leaves and add them to a clean, dry bottle or jar.
  3. Pour a high-quality oil, such as olive oil, over the parsley until it is fully submerged.
  4. Seal the container and let it sit in a cool, dark place for a week to allow the flavors to infuse.
  5. Strain the oil through a fine mesh sieve and store in a clean bottle.
  • Tip: For a quicker method, you can gently heat the oil and parsley together before storing. Always ensure herbs are dry to prevent bacterial growth.

Using Parsley in Cooking

Parsley is a versatile herb that brings both color and flavor to a variety of dishes.

Before incorporating it into your recipes, make sure it’s fresh and properly prepared for the best taste and presentation.

Incorporating Parsley in Recipes

When adding parsley to your recipes, think of it not just as a garnish, but as an ingredient that can transform bland dishes with a bright green touch and a burst of flavor.

Here’s how to best utilize parsley in your cooking:

  • Pasta & Vegetables: Enhance these dishes with finely chopped parsley. Add it towards the end of cooking to maintain its bold color and texture.
  • Soups & Stews: Stir parsley in for a refreshing contrast to rich flavors. This fresh herb works well in everything from creamy soups to hearty meat broths.
  • Fish & Chicken: Use parsley as a key component in marinades and sauces, or as a garnish to complement these proteins. Its clean flavor pairs especially well with lemon.
  • Peppers & Other Aromatics: When sautéing aromatic ingredients like onions, garlic, and peppers, sprinkle in chopped parsley to add complexity to the dish.

When using parsley, consider these methods to store parsley to ensure it maintains its quality:

  • In Water: Place the stems in a jar of water and cover the leaves with a plastic bag before refrigerating. This method can keep parsley fresh for up to a week.
  • Paper Towel Wrap: Dampen paper towels and loosely wrap the parsley before storing in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. This can also prolong freshness.

Proper Handling and Preservation

To ensure your parsley retains its vibrant flavor and color, mastering both immediate freshness maintenance and longer-term storage is crucial.

Maintaining Parsley’s Freshness

After purchasing or picking your parsley, it’s important to keep it fresh.

Begin by gently rinsing your parsley under cool water to remove any dirt or residue.

Carefully shake off excess water, or better yet, use a salad spinner to dry the leaves efficiently.

For short-term storage, treat your parsley as you would flowers in a vase:

  1. Snip the ends of the stems.
  2. Fill a jar or glass with an inch or two of water.
  3. Submerge the stem ends in the water.
  4. Cover the parsley loosely with a plastic bag.
  5. Store the setup in your refrigerator, changing the water every few days.

By following these steps, your parsley can stay fresh in the fridge for 1 to 2 weeks.

Harvest and Store Garden Parsley

If you’re gathering parsley from your garden, the best time to harvest is in the morning when the plants are most hydrated.

Only snip what you need, or if you’re planning to store it:

  • Rinse the parsley in clean water and use a salad spinner if available.
  • Pat dry the leaves gently with paper towels.

For longer preservation, consider one of the following methods:

  • Drying: Spread out the parsley on a drying rack or dehydrate using an oven on the lowest setting until the leaves crumble easily.
  • Freezing: Parsley can be frozen in a few ways:
    • Chop the parsley and distribute it in an ice cube tray, adding water or olive oil before freezing.
    • Place whole sprigs in a freezer bag, ensuring they are dry to prevent freezer burn.

Frozen parsley can be used directly from the freezer and is best used within 12 months for optimal flavor.

Troubleshooting Storage Issues

Effective parsley storage can be straightforward, but it requires attention to detail to prevent common issues such as browning or shriveling. Here, you will learn to navigate these problems efficiently.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

  • Temperature and Location: Store your parsley in a cool environment. The countertop can cause it to wilt due to higher temperatures and exposure to sunlight. The refrigerator offers a much more suitable temperature for keeping parsley fresh.
  • Glass Jar and Water: Use a glass jar partially filled with water for storage. Ensure that only the stems are submerged to prevent the leaves from rotting.
  • Airtight Container: For dry storage, opt for an airtight container to retain freshness. This method regulates humidity, which can otherwise lead to a shriveled appearance.
  • Countertop Hazards: Avoid leaving parsley out on the countertop for extended periods, especially if your kitchen is warm or humid, as this will accelerate deterioration.
  • Humidity Control: A crisper drawer in your fridge can be ideal for controlling humidity when storing parsley in a closed bag.
Store in a cool placeExpose to prolonged heat or direct sunlight
Use a glass jar with waterSubmerge leaves in water
Employ an airtight containerAllow air exposure to increase humidity
Check water for cloudinessNeglect changing water in a jar
Pat dry after rinsingStore wet, causing browning

Seasonal Considerations for Parsley Storage

When considering how to store parsley, the season, particularly winter, plays a vital role in choosing the most effective method to maintain freshness.

Storing Parsley During Winter

During winter, your parsley storage strategy changes due to the colder climate, which can be an advantage for keeping parsley fresh.

Since winter temperatures often mimic refrigerated conditions, here are some specific steps to store fresh parsley when it’s cold outside:

  • Refrigeration: Preserve parsley by keeping it refrigerated. The cool environment slows down decay and can extend the life of your parsley. Place the parsley stems in a jar filled with water, cover the leaves with a plastic bag, and store in your refrigerator.
  • Freezer Storage: If you want to store parsley for extended periods, using an ice cube tray is a clever method. Chop the parsley and mix it with water or melted butter, then pour into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, transfer the cubes to a freezer bag or container. This lets you add a burst of flavor to dishes even in the middle of winter.

Remember to thoroughly dry your parsley before refrigerating to prevent mold growth, and if using the ice cube tray method, ensure the butter has cooled to room temperature before freezing.

Health Benefits and Uses of Parsley

Fresh parsley in a glass jar on a kitchen counter, with a label indicating its health benefits and instructions on how to store it

Parsley is a nutrient-rich herb that you can incorporate into your diet not only for its vibrant taste but also for its health benefits.

In the culinary world, parsley serves as more than just a decorative green; it can enhance the flavor of numerous dishes, providing both taste and nutrition.

Parsley as a Flavorful Garnish

Parsley, in its two popular forms, Italian parsley and curly parsley, is a versatile herb that adds a fresh and slightly peppery flavor to your meals.

As a garnish, you can finely chop parsley and sprinkle it over soups, salads, pastas, and meat dishes.

Italian parsley, with its flat leaves, is milder and preferred in recipes for its flavor. Curly parsley, though less intense, adds a decorative touch with its vibrant green, ruffled leaves. To garnish your dish:

  1. Wash the parsley thoroughly.
  2. Dry it gently with a paper towel.
  3. Chop the leaves finely or leave them whole, depending on the recipe.
  4. Sprinkle the parsley over your dish for a burst of color and flavor.

You may also incorporate parsley with other herbs such as basil and chives for a more complex taste profile in your recipes.

Parsley in Herbal Teas and Supplements

Parsley is not only a culinary delight but also a common component in herbal teas and supplements.

The herb is believed to have diuretic properties and is often used in traditional medicine.

Parsley tea is made by steeping fresh or dried parsley leaves in hot water, creating an infusion that some find beneficial for digestion and overall health.

To make parsley tea:

  • Boil water and let it cool for a minute to avoid burning the leaves.
  • Add a handful of fresh parsley leaves or a couple of teaspoons of dried parsley to a cup.
  • Pour the hot water over the parsley.
  • Steep for 5-10 minutes, then strain.

Remember to consult with a healthcare provider before adding parsley supplements or a significant amount of parsley tea to your diet, especially if you have existing health conditions or are taking medications.

Understanding Parsley Varieties

When you’re choosing parsley for your kitchen, it’s essential to understand the different varieties available and how they can influence the flavor of your recipes.

Curly vs. Italian Parsley

Curly Parsley

  • Appearance: This variety is easily recognizable by its bright green and ruffled leaves.
  • Flavor: Curly parsley has a mild taste, which can be a subtle addition to dishes without overpowering other ingredients.
  • Use in Recipes: It’s often used as a garnish due to its attractive shape. It can also be included in a wide range of culinary applications, from soups to salads.

Italian Parsley (also known as flat-leaf parsley)

  • Appearance: Italian parsley has flat, dark green leaves and a more robust structure.
  • Flavor: It typically possesses a stronger, more pronounced flavor compared to curly parsley, making it a favorite for adding depth to dishes.
  • Use in Recipes: This variety is preferred for cooking, as its flavor holds up better under heat. It is a key ingredient in recipes like chimichurri sauce.

Storing Related Herbs

When preserving the freshness of parsley and other herbs like basil and chives, specific storage techniques can extend their shelf life and maintain their flavor.

Parsley and Other Herbs

  • Parsley: To store fresh parsley, place the stems in a jar filled with an inch of water. Then cover the leaves with a loose plastic bag and refrigerate. Change the water every two days.
  • Basil: Unlike parsley, basil prefers room temperature. Keep it in a glass of water on your counter, avoiding cold temperatures that can turn the leaves black.
  • Chives: Chives should be wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed inside a loosely closed plastic bag in the fridge. This helps retain their moisture without causing decay.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you’ll find targeted advice addressing common concerns about preserving parsley to maintain its flavor and freshness.

What is the best way to keep parsley fresh in the refrigerator?

To keep parsley fresh in the refrigerator, thoroughly rinse and pat it dry. Wrap the parsley in a paper towel to absorb moisture and store it in a plastic bag. Place the bag in the vegetable compartment of your fridge.

Can you provide tips for preserving parsley over the winter?

Freezing is one of the most effective ways to preserve parsley through winter. Chop the parsley and place it in an ice cube tray, then cover it with water or oil and freeze. Transfer the frozen cubes to a freezer bag for long-term storage.

Is there a technique to prevent parsley from wilting without refrigeration?

To prevent wilting without refrigeration, trim the stems and place the parsley in a glass of water at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Change the water every two days to keep it fresh for a longer period.

How can parsley be stored effectively using water?

For water storage, fill a glass or jar with an inch of water and place the trimmed stems of parsley into it. Cover the greens loosely with a plastic bag to create a humid environment, akin to a greenhouse.

What are the methods for drying parsley to extend its shelf life?

Drying is a simple method to extend parsley’s life. Bunch the cleaned parsley and hang it upside down in a warm, well-ventilated area or lay it out on a drying rack until completely dry. Store the dried parsley in a sealed container.

Is freezing an option for maintaining the freshness of parsley?

Yes, freezing is a great option for preserving parsley’s freshness.

After washing and chopping, place the parsley in an ice cube tray with water or stock. Then, transfer the frozen cubes into a sealed bag or container in the freezer.

Follow Us
Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
Cassie Marshall
Follow Us
Latest posts by Cassie Marshall (see all)