Photo: Oxmoor House
SEASON: Spring through fall
CHOOSING: Select a bunch that’s bright green and free of bruising, decay, and blemishes.
STORING: To be sure parsley stays perky and hydrated during storage, cut half an inch off the ends of the stems using kitchen shears. Plunge the cut ends into a glass of water for about an hour; remove, and place the entire bunch in a plastic produce bag to prevent wilting. Unlike produce that must be kept in the vegetable bin (which is a little warmer and more humid than the shelves), parsley lasts longer if kept in the coolest section of your refrigerator. When treated properly, parsley lasts about a week in the refrigerator.
GROWING: Parsley is a biennial, so it grows one season, and then blooms the next, and must be planted every year. Its season varies from place to place: In temperate areas, plant in the spring so it will thrive all summer and fall. Where winter is mild, it will remain green year-round, but it won’t continue to grow through light freezes and can die during severe winter weather. In tropical areas with hot summers, such as Florida, parsley should be planted in fall for harvest all winter.
Choose between two familiar favorites, curly and flatleaf parsley. Curly parsley is well suited for garnishing for a burst of color. Flat-leaf parsley, often called Italian parsley, has a wonderful flavor and stands up better to heat, ideal for various culinary uses.
Set transplants or sow seeds in sunny, well-drained, moist soil, either in the garden or in a pot. Container-grown parsley needs a pot deep enough to accommodate its 6- to 10-inch taproot. With the aid of a timed-release fertilizer or a monthly liquid fertilizer, each plant can grow a foot across, lush with delicious foliage.