Parsley is an indispensable herb in my kitchen and I pick some of it most days from the garden to use in my cooking. However I know that once the humid and wet weather arrives in our sub-tropical Summer, my Parsley plants will start to struggle and if a real wet season arrives this year I will lose them as they don't like wet feet. At the moment the parsley plants are thriving so to prepare for the time ahead when I know that mine will die off, I have cut back the parsley plants, and dried a large bunch of the leaves in the dehydrator. I only grow Italian Parsley now as it is more resilient and easier to manage than the curlier variety.
When I started writing this, I was reminded of just how healthy Parsley is in our diet. It is full of Vitamin K, C, and A, lots of antioxidants and Folate and Iron. So besides using dried parsley as often as we can, we are doing ourselves a huge favour by using both fresh and dried as much as we can in tabbouleh, pesto, tomato sauces and all of those other Middle Eastern and European dishes that we enjoy so much. If you are reading this and you are responsible for most of the cooking in your home as you probably are, then you are doing a great thing for yourself and your family by frequently including fresh and dried parsley in your cooking. However you won't need to use as much of the dried as you would of the fresh stuff.
It took 24 hours to dry this batch of parsley as the dehydrator runs on a low heat but it worked beautifully and now I have a pint Mason jar full of dried parsley which will crumble beautifully into stews, soups, frittatas, braises and most dishes where it will add value to the final taste and nutritional appeal of the meal. Fresh parsley is still the best to use as a garnish but otherwise the dried parsley will serve me well and save me spending money at the supermarket or the Farmer's Market on fresh Parsley. I am really hoping though that I won't lose my parsley plants for quite a while.
I waited until mid-morning to collect the parsley as there is a heavy dew and early morning fog at the moment and I wanted it to be fairly dry before I cut it. The parsley should be washed well to remove any bugs or dirt and swirled around in a sink of clean water, and then left to drain in a colander. I did that and then dried the stalks between kitchen wrap paper and clean towels.
Then I sat down with a cuppa, tuned into Richard Fidler's Conversations on ABC radio at 11.00 am which is always interesting and started removing the leaves from the stalks, which didn't take very long. I don't think you need to remove the tiny stalks close to the leaves as they will crumble down after dehydrating as well. Of course this could also be done late in the afternoon while you enjoy a glass of red wine, also full of nutritional benefits.
The fresh, healthy, and thick parsley stalks can be kept in the freezer in a bag and added to chicken stocks with the carrot and celery, as they have flavour and nutritional value embedded in them. It seems such a waste to relegate them to the compost heap.
It was then simply a matter of placing the parsley leaves on the dehydrator trays to dry for 24 hours. The time it takes will depend on your dehydrator, but this one operators on a constant very low heat which works well.
The leaves are then transferred from the dehydrator to a sterilised Mason Jar or any bottle you may have on hand, for storage. I found it easier to use a funnel as the dry parsley tends to be difficult to transfer by hand and can fly around the bottle in the process.
I have a few jars of dried herbs and spices and once they are dried sometimes it can be difficult to tell what the contents of the bottle are, so I label each bottle with the date that the contents were bottled.
I am on the verge of buying my own dehydrator. My good friend Julie lent my hers to try and I am sold on it now and so is Mr. HRK.
To all my readers, thanks for dropping by and I hope you found this interesting and helpful.