Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Saving Parsley From the Compost Bin!

I like using fresh parsley when I cook.   It is so bright and colorful and much prettier and more flavorful than using the dried kind.    I will use dried parsley and often have some in my pantry but I much prefer using fresh.   What I don't like is what happens to parsley when you buy it in a bundle, put it in the fridge and before you know it, you have a yucky, greenish pile of something more akin to pond scum than a useful herb for your spaghetti.    It just isn't pretty if you forget about it and it starts to decompose and it wastes money, which these days is a big NO NO!

Now none of us intends to forget the parsley or anything else we buy at the grocery store.   But let's face it--- parsley can get buried in a vegetable crisper or stuffed into the back of the box even if you clearly label it and put in a fresh keeper bag and all those tricks to keep it alive until you use it up.   So one day when I brought the fresh bundle of parsley into the house straight from the grocery store, it occurred to me that I might be able to keep it easy to use, "fresh" and ready whenever I needed to add some color and flavor to my soup or meatloaf.   

I have done this two ways:  prep the parsley and put it in a freezer safe Rubbermaid container or prep it and put it into a freezer Ziploc bag.  I think I like using the bags the best because they can be pressed flat and don't take up much space in the freezer. But you can do whichever method works best for you and your kitchen!  Let me put in a small plug here for using the brand name of those handy plastic bags.    I have used other brands and generic bags and have found after trial and error, the genuine S.C. Johnson brand of Ziploc bags just work better and don't let me down with zips that fail to lock.   By using the freezer type bags, they are heavy enough not to rip and tear.    And if you really hate using new bags each time, you can rinse them out and dry them and they are good to go for many more times.  

So first I get out my materials:   Gallon or quart size Ziploc bags, scissors I keep in the kitchen for chores like this, paper towels or clean dish towel and a Sharpie marker.    I take the whole bunch of parsley and rinse it under cold water and then shake it lightly to get off excess water and put it on a paper towel or two.    I take off the tie wrap the store has on it to hold the bundle together.    Then I use the scissors to snip just the top part of the parsley to separate it from the stem.     Most of us won't use the stems anyhow, so they can be tossed or put in the compost bin. (If you are a juicer, you can put the stems in your morning smoothie.)   Soon I have a nice pile of mostly parsley leaves.   I feel through the pile and search for any stems that are still sticking out.   I use the scissors to snip them off and I don't obsess over this part.   I just try to make sure it's mostly leaves and not stems.    It is not the world's biggest tragedy if you end up with a stem or two.  You can snip those off later when you use the parsley. 

A freshly prepped pile of parsley--stems cut off.

Then I roll up the parsley pile in the paper towel or dish towel, squeezing out the water that remains.   I use the Sharpie to label the bag with what's in it and the date.    I find that a Sharpie works best on the bag and doesn't smear or come off.    A fine tip one makes it easier to write in a way that is legible later on!  I start putting the parsley into the bag a little at a time until all of the parsley is neatly tucked inside the bag.    I partially close the bag and mash the bag on the counter top to remove air.    I close the bag a little more and press again to remove more air.   Then I close the bag and I push it one more time to see if it's puffy anywhere, indicating it still has some air in it.    If I find air, I slightly open the bag and squeeze it one more time and then close up the bag.    It should be nearly flat and is ready to put in your freezer.  This is not rocket science so if a little air remains, you can relax---it's probably OK and won't make a big difference in the long run!
One gallon size Ziploc bag of parsley ready to freeze.
When you're ready to add parsley take the bag out of the freezer, open and break off a hunk of the parsley.   How much you break off depends on how much you intend to use.  Then I take a pair of kitchen scissors and snip up the frozen parsley directly into the pot or bowl. Reseal the bag and put back in your freezer until you need it again! The color is still bright green, flavor is fine and best of all I have not allowed a perfectly nice bunch of parsley go belly up and wasted because I forgot about it!    

This is a quick and easy thing to do.   It only takes a few minutes to get parsley prepped and into the bag.   You could even do this if you grow your own parsley (like I will have growing in my backyard this summer).  Then in the winter, you will have your parsley frozen and ready to use just as nice as it was in July.    

Do you have little tricks that you do in your kitchen to save time or make your purchases last longer?    Share on the comments because we're all in this search for the good life together.   Let's help our fellow travelers out along the way.   :))

Happy Trails,



  1. In making Pesto from my garden Basil crop, I also use the zip lock bags and the sharpie. I find that laying it flat (pressing air out first) is a good way to store it. Many people use the old ice trays, but it does take up a lot of room. So, laying it flat in a zip lock bag is the way to go.

  2. Thanks for that tip, Marcia. I'll be growing parsley and a few other herbs this year.

    How is Larry's square foot garden coming along? My beds are built, and half of them have soil. We're hoping to fill the rest in a few days. We also built a fence around it, to keep out a puppy who thinks that all that beautiful soil was meant for enthusiastic digging.


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