Category Archives: parsley

Harvesting Herbs In the Off Season

Besides growing herbs indoors I have been able to harvest some of the herbs from my garden throughout much of the winter.

For Christmas this year I made an herb cream cheese spread from fresh parsley, green onion tops, orange mint, and sage.  If you have no or light snow cover it is easy to see which herbs look green.  Otherwise you will have to carefully uncover a few herbs and see what you can find.  My parsley is green all winter.   For younger or smaller herb plants harvest with care.  If you harvest too much you may damage or kill the plant.  My sage is large and well established, I have many parsley plants, the green onions are plentiful as well as the orange mint.  I would not recommend harvesting rosemary over winter unless you are growing it indoors or live in a zone 7 or warmer climate.

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Cilantro or Coriander

Did you know that cilantro and coriander are from the same plant (Coriandrum sativum)? Cilantro is typically the name given to the leaves while coriander is the name used for the seeds. The flavors, scents, and uses are very different. Cilantro is an annual herb of the parsley family best known as an ingredient in Asian and Mexican foods while coriander is used in sausages, curries, pickling spices, soups, fish, and desserts. Coriander seeds may be used whole or ground with a mortar and pestle.

Sometimes there is confusion between Italian or Flat Leaf Parsley and Cilantro because the appearance is similar. The scent is very different – cilantro has a distinctive scent. Cilantro was an acquired taste for me. I did not understand why the stinky herb was so popular. Then I had some tasty pico de gallo containing cilantro and I was hooked. I have since used it in many other dishes including scrambled eggs, chicken, salads, and an addition to my homemade guacamole.

Left: Italian Parsley      Right: CilantroLeft: Italian Parsely   Right: Cilantro

I get many questions about how to grow cilantro. An important thing to know is that cilantro does not like hot weather but can handle some frost. Plant cilantro in early Spring in well-drained soil. I like to replant about every two weeks to keep a good supply of cilantro coming. When the weather gets warmer I plant in part shade to keep the plants cooler. Towards Fall, cilantro can again be planted in a sunnier spot.

You can begin harvesting leaves with there are at least 6 leaves per plant. Cilantro grows leaves from the inside of the plant so ideally you would harvest leaves growing on the outer edges of the plant. Like many annual herbs, continual harvesting of the leaves reduces the chance of flowering and may extend the harvest of leaves. If you want coriander seeds or you didn’t remove the flowers and the seeds formed, harvest the seeds when they are a light brown color. Be sure they are completely dry before storing for later use.

Cilantro leaves are best used fresh. The leaves lose flavor when dried. If you choose to freeze the leaves use them immediately from the freezer – do not thaw.  Wash and pat dry and freeze  in freezer bags or blend until smooth and freeze in ice cube trays.  Either way it is easy to just remove what you need for a particular recipe.

Writing A Book

Sorry I have not posted for awhile.  I have been finishing an herb book which is now available for Kindle and hopefully soon for Nook.

Check out What About Herbs? and let me know what you think.

Please pass the link for the book for those you know who may be interested. Thanks!

Parsley

Italian Parsley

Curled Parsley

Parsley is more than that green stuff that decorates your plate at restaurants. Parsley is high in minerals and vitamins and adds color and flavor to many dishes. Pesto, tabbouleh, and parsley potatoes are just a few of the dishes where parsley is used.
Parsley is the first green thing in my garden every spring.

Parsley is a biennial. The first year it grows leaves, the second year seeds and then it dies.
Although Curled Parsley is the one most people are familiar with Italian of Flat Leaf parsley are considered the most desirable for cooking. Hamburg Parsley is grown for its root. I grow Curled and Flat but have not yet tried Hamburg.

Parsley can be grown in full sun or part shade so if you felt that you had too much shade for growing herbs parsley may be one that would grow well for you. Like some of its relatives including dill, fennel, and cilantro, parsley is known for not transplanting well. I start mine in compressed peat pellets or my Aerogarden and have not hand any problems with transplanting but the root is disturbed less that way so that could be the reason. My curly parsley is planted in one of my asparagus beds where I let it reseed itself. The Italian parsley is planted in another 2 x 4 Square Foot Garden bed where I let it reseed. This gives me a continual supply of parsley without the need to replant every year. In fact I have only needed to replant when I move.

Parsley recipes

More Parsley recipes

Herb Garden Planning

Now is a great time to plan which herbs you would like to grow.  Making a list now will reduce the chance of you purchasing something you have not prepared a place for and the chance of buying something you won’t be able to care for or find a spot to grow.

What herbs do you use now in cooking, for crafts, or for other purposes?  I would recommend starting with a few you are already somewhat familiar with even if you have only used them dried.  Chives, parsley, mint (if grown in a container), sage, lavender, tarragon, thyme, and oregano are some that are usually easy to find and grow. 

Once you have a list check to see if they will grow in your area by researching the herbs and finding what climate zone you are in.

Even if you can’t grow an herb outside in your area you may still be able to grow it indoors.  I grow several herbs in pots that would not survive the winter in my yard.  I can still enjoy them and have some houseplants to eat over the winter.

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