Parsley Herb of the Year

Parsley is the Herb of the Year for 2021, as selected by the International Herb Association. And no wonder – it is such a versatile and indispensable herb and it is hard to imagine any kitchen without it. Fresh chopped parsley is fundamental in soups and stews, in salads, and on vegetables, fish, meat, and eggs. It brightens other flavours, adding a fresh, earthy balance that makes you want to smack your lips when the cooking is done.

Parsley wasn’t always the culinary star it is today. Half a century ago it was mostly used as a garnish for decoration – and not added to food for flavour. The visual appeal of fresh parsley sprigs on the plate helped to stimulate the appetite, but the sprigs would be discarded with the kitchen scraps. Like the pauper who doesn’t know the riches he has, cooks and diners missed out on parsley’s rich flavours – and all the health benefits in the rich stores of antioxidants and phytonutrients that come in every sprig.

Today, parsley is a must in the garden. Richters has more than a dozen varieties to grow, from the plain or flat leaf types and the curled and moss-curled types, to the dual purpose root parsleys with their edible roots and edible tops.

Parsley has some close cousins that are equally deserving in the kitchen and in the garden. Leaf celery is parsley’s closest relative with a rich, satisfying celery-like flavour used in soups and stews. Chervil is known as “French parsley” and is, along with true parsley, one of the foundational fines herbes of French cuisine. Cilantro, another near relative, is often called "Chinese parsley" and it is of course an essential fresh herb throughout the Orient and around the world. Lovage is sometimes known as “love parsley”, with a strong celery-like flavour popular in Europe for soups and stews. Finally, there is Japanese parsley, or mitsuba, which is used for traditional soups, stews, meats, noodles and dumplings.

Thanks to the Herb of the Year program of the International Herb Association, a program intended to educate the public about the value and uses of selected herbs, we at Richters are celebrating parsley’s time under the sun in 2021. Some of the most important and most loved parsley varieties are described below, followed by a great selection of parsley’s close cousins,.

BOOK: Parsley, Herb of the Year 2021

More than just a garnish — parsley is a quintessential star of the kitchen, used in all manner of sauces, salads, and soups, and with vegetables, meats, and grains, and even in — believe it or not — desserts. This definitive compendium is packed with parsley facts: legends, lore, history, along with practical tips on growing and harvesting, plus lots of recipes featuring parsley. Written by experts, herb lovers, and members of the International Herb Association. Order it now!

Here are the currently available varieties of parsley!

Double Curled Parsley

Dense dark green doubly curled leaves. Excellent for flavouring and garnishes. Suitable for home gardens and commercial production. Order it now!

Evergreen Parsley

This was an All-America Selection back in 1940 and is still a favourite in home gardens today. It is a very nice dark green double curled variety with excellent flavour, perfect for fresh use and as a garnish. In the garden it is more vigorous and more tolerant of hot and cold weather than other varieties. Order it now!

Favorit Parsley

Sometimes the texture of modern curled parsleys can be tough, a feature added by design to withstand long shipping and to extend shelf-life. The leaves can be quite a chore to chew! But Favorit is different — it is a curled parsley with a softer texture and a much nicer mouth-feel. It is a tad sweeter too, making it one terrific parsley for all around use. Order it now!

Mosscurled Parsley

Standard curled variety. Bright green, deeply cut and finely divided leaves.. Order it now!

Argon Parsley

Improved plainleaf variety with dark green flat leaves and upright growth habit. High yields. Strong powdery mildew tolerance. Order it now!

Festival 68 Parsley

A very nice flat leaf variety with an unusual parentage. During the Iron Curtain era Bulgarian scientists crossed a celery with a parsley and got plants that looked like parsley but had a richer, more pleasant flavour with subtle hints of celery. Eventually they succeeded in stabilizing the variety so it reproduces consistently by seed. More than 40 years later this unique variety is still widely grown in Europe for fresh and dried use. Order it now!

Hungarian Flat Parsley

Hungary knows parsley! It is something of an obsession in the country where one website counted over 2,000 recipes featuring it in one form or another. In Hungary, parsley is indispensable with potatoes, in soups and stews, and dumplings. Greengrocers are supplied by some 3,000 hectares (7,500 acres) devoted to parsley production in the country. We are pleased to offer this traditional flat-leaved variety from Hungary with a very rich flavour. The leaf shape and size are not as uniform as in modern varieties but we think variability helps it to resist debilitating diseases such as Xanthamonas that plague other varieties. Order it now!

Italian Parsley

Our favourite type because flavour is extra rich. Adds true European character to soups and stews. Dark green, glossy leaves, strong flavour. Taller, has larger leaves than standard strain. Very popular. Order it now!

Plain Parsley

Standard variety for flavouring, slightly earlier maturing than above. Deeply cut, bright green leaves with excellent flavour. Order it now!

Hamburg Parsley

Very popular in northern Europe. Looks almost identical to parsnip but a little smaller, with 8-10 inch long slender roots and a flavour that is a mix between celery and parsley with a nutty overtone. Leaves and roots can be eaten raw or cooked adding an excellent flavour to soups and stews, used as a garnish on salads as well as steamed and served with butter or sauce. Roots 20-25cm/8-10in. long, flat leaves. Order it now!

Konika Parsley

Tapered white roots are crisp and tender when fresh and turn a creamy consistency when cooked. The taste is an audacious blend of celeriac, parsley and carrot all in one root. Excellent in soups and stews (like Hungarian goulash), as fries, or roasted. The wider, shorter roots (12-15cm/5-6”) of this variety are easier to dig than others. Sow direct in spring or late fall for harvest the following summer or fall. Order it now!

Parsley Blend

When space is tight! For those who don’t have a lot of space but want to grow different types of parsley for seasoning and for garnish, this is a perfect blend of three classic flat-leaf, curled, and mosscurled varieties. Order it now!

Here are some close cousins of parsley to try!

Amsterdam Celery
(Leaf Celery)

A very nice leaf celery with finely cut, dark green glossy leaves. Use it like parsley and surprise your guests with its rich celery flavour and aroma. More compact than other leaf celeries, reaching only 25-50cm (10-20”) in height. Order it now!

Pascal Celery
(Leaf Celery)

Pascal is the precursor that transformed celery into the thick fleshy form we know today. Named after Henri Pascal who discovered the first plants in his celery field in 1884, the variety was improved upon by Vilmorin, the French seed company. The variety went on to spawn many more varieties and radically changed celery as a crop on both sides of the Atlantic. But as much as this heirloom belongs among the vegetables, its lush dark green leaves are also terrific as a fresh herb. Added at the last minute, the fresh- chopped leaves add a seductive nutty flavour to soups, stews, and salads. Order it now!

Curled Celery
(Leaf Celery)

Outstanding curled leaf variety from Holland that is both ornamental and delicious to use in the kitchen like parsley. Aromatic leaves are used to season soups and stews, and like parsley they can be used as a garnish. No blanching required. Order it now!

Curled Chervil
(French Parsley)

Luscious green leaves have special subtle flavour. Traditionally used in all spring soups and salads. Can improve every dish in which parsley is used. Curled leaves make a handsome garnish. 25-50cm (10-20”) in height Order it now!

Massa Chervil
(French Parsley)

Slow bolting flat-leaf variety with very nice dark-green colour. Even in hot summer months Massa will keep producing leaves for fresh use if grown with some shade. Order it now!

Vertissimo Chervil
(French Parsley)

A beautiful chervil of the Brussels Winter type, with shiny dark green flat leaves and a nice dense growth habit. Like all chervils the fresh leaves are sweet with a hint of anise and are delicious chopped in salads, soups, on tofu, fish — or anywhere where parsley is used. Sow direct in the garden in early spring or late summer. Order it now!

Calypso Cilantro
(Chinese Parsley)

Regrows after cutting! The first true cilantro to grow back after cutting. It will regrow at least 3 times, so the need for repeated reseeding is reduced considerably. It is a breeding breakthrough we think will be a big hit with home gardeners and commercial growers Compared to the industry standard variety, Santo, it is 12 to 21 days slower to bolt (go to flower). This means that it will produce more fresh foliage per plant than any other variety. Order it now!

Confetti Cilantro
(Chinese Parsley)

Unique feathery cilantro! Leaves are so finely cut you might think they look like carrot-tops. But the flavour is full-throttled cilantro. The leaves are actually less susceptible to bruising caused by handling compared to other cilantros. Quick maturing, slow to bolt and heavy yielder. Medium green colour. Awarded the Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society in 2014. Order it now!

Hacor Cilantro
(Chinese Parsley)

Not many know that fresh cilantro is an essential fresh ingredient in Russia and the Central Asian republics. It, along with parsley and dill, can be found in markets in virtually every city and town. The Russians grow many unique cilantro varieties. Hacor is a highly productive, slow bolting Russian cilantro with a spicy flavour. Order it now!

Leisure Cilantro
(Chinese Parsley)

High yielding commercial variety with attractive glossy green leaves, uniform growth habit, and consistent quality. Tolerates summer heat well and is bolt-resistant. Excellent choice for fresh cilantro. Ready for harvest in 28 to 80 days depending on the season. This variety is also used for sprouting. Order it now!

Pot Cilantro
(Chinese Parsley)

Compact selection for potted plant production. Sow direct in pots. Order it now!

(Love Parsley)

Leaves have excellent flavour for soups, stews and casseroles. Flavour is reminiscent of celery, and of the famous yeast extract, Maggi. Can replace meat and bone stock in soups. Vigorous tall growing herb; one of the first to return in spring. Order it now!

(Japanese Parsley)

Unique flavour of leaves and leafstalks, either fresh or blanched, is pleasing in soups, salads, and fried foods. Of easiest culture; prefers moist, partly shady locations. Order it now!

Purple Mitsuba
(Japanese Parsley)

A Japanese parsley grown as much for its attractive bronze-red colour as for its unique flavour. The leaves look a lot like Italian flat-leaf parsley. Used to season soups, poultry, meats, noodles, salads, and dumplings. Prefers moist, partly shady locations but will grow in full sun. Self seeds. Order it now!

The Herb of the Year for 2020 was Rubus!

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