I’m celebrating a little personal gardening victory today: just chopped a large mound of Italian (flat-leaf) parsley, yielding one full measure cup from half of one plant. I’ve never had this much fresh parsley before this year. Usually it bolts by August. Still more remains for me to harvest for fall and winter soups and stews.
In spite of a summer of yo-yo temperatures and almost a couple of weeks of smoke from wildfires, the herbs in my potager have blessed me with bountiful yields. Not only the Italian parsley, but also sage, rosemary, and two types of thyme — German and Lemon. All these, along with basil and dill, I used during the summers by pinching off just what I need for a particular recipe.
Last year I learned how to chop parsley at the butcher’s in Rosauers when I paused to watch him chopping away on a large wood cutting board.
CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP
He was better than a television cooking show!
However, my first attempt at home was less than satisfactory. Just picked fresh herbs, with stems still attached, don’t yield right away to a knife blade. My first bunch merely turned to mush, so I decided to used only fresh leaves as I needed them for recipes. Now I know better.
First step after harvesting about half the plant is to rinse the bunch under cool running water. Roll loosely in a kitchen towel and pat somewhat dry. Spread on a drying screen or in a large vegetable strainer.
When you are ready to process the parsley, carefully remove the leaves from the stems and pile in the middle of a wood or marble board. Keep your piles small enough to chop finely through with a large kitchen knife or herb cutter.
Return the finely chopped parsley to the drying screen or basket and spread out. Set aside away from heat and allow to dry thoroughly before storing in small glass jars. Label and date.
Sage and thyme can be harvested or left to snip as needed all winter, even under snow. Rosemary, however, must be potted and brought indoors in most climates.
I dry sprigs of thyme on a screen, then rub bunches between my palms to release the dried leaves and discard the stems. Finally, I store the crushed leaves in a glass jar.