Fresh parsley is very rich in Vitamin A and potassium. It is moderately rich in Vitamin C, calcium, folate (folic acid), and phosphorous. It is also a good source of dietary fiber when considering weight to volume ratio (1.23 gm dietary fiber to1/2 cup parsley). Fresh cilantro is also very rich in Vitamin A and potassium but it is higher than parsley in calcium and dietary fiber. It is also moderately rich in Vitamin C and folate (folic acid). Both cilantro and parsley are naturally low in calories, fat, and sodium.
Planting and Harvesting Parsley and Cilantro
The ideal time to plant parsley in Central Texas is January to February in the spring with harvest occurring March to April. Cilantro should be planted in February for harvesting to occur in April. Fall planting of parsley and cilantro occur at the same time in September with harvest occurring in November.
|Spring Planting||January to February||February|
|Spring Harvesting||March to April||April|
Storing Parsley and Cilantro
Parsley and cilantro are stored best in the refrigerator after harvesting. Take the bunch apart, wash, place in a plastic bag and refrigerate immediately. It is also best to use fresh parsley or cilantro within 5-6 days of harvest
If drying is preferred, parsley of cilantro can be dried in the refrigerator in a brown paper (not plastic) bag. Place a bouquet of the herbs in the bag and close it. It can remain in the refrigerator for one month. The resulting bouquet of herbs will be surprisingly green, but dry and aromatic.
Choosing Parsley and Cilantro
Look for fresh, crisp, bright-green leaves, for both the curled leaf and the flat-leaf varieties of parsley. Slightly wilted leaves can be freshened by trimming off the ends of the stems and placing them in cold water. Avoid yellowing, discolored, or decayed leaves. The best way to use cilantro is as a seasoning in sausage, beans, and stews. Young leaves can be used in salads, soups, poultry recipes and in a variety of Mexican and Chinese dishes. The following recipe can use either parsley of cilantro as the main ingredient.
Parsley Salad (Tabouli)
- 1/2 cup fine bulgur wheat (or cracked wheat)
- Hot water
- 2 cups finely chopped fresh parsley or cilantro (1 or 2 bunches, large stems removed)
- 1/2 cup finely chopped green onions
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint leaves, or 1 tbsp. dried mint
- 1 med. cucumber, peeled, seeded, and cubed
- 1/2 cup diced bell pepper
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- Juice of 2 lemons
- 1-2 cloves of garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 18 cherry tomatoes, cut into squares
- Place bulgur in a large bowl. Add enough hot water to cover.
- Let sit for approximately 30 minutes. Drain and squeeze dry.
- Place in a large mixing bowl and fluff with a fork. Add parsley, onions, mint, cucumber, bell pepper, salt, and black pepper.
- Stir to mix well and set aside. In a small bowl, combine dressing ingredients and stir to mix well.
- Pour over salad, toss, cover and refrigerate 3 to 4 hours.
- Remove from refrigerator and add tomatoes. Mix well. Serve on a bed of crisp lettuce.
Nutritional Analysis (per serving): Calories:86; Protein:2 gm; Carbohydrates:12 gm; Total Fat:4 gm; Cholesterol:0 mg; Vitamin A:184 RE; Vitamin C:56 mg; Calcium:39 mg; Potassium:307 mg; Sodium:82 mg; Diabetic Exchanges: 1/3 Bread, 2/3 Fat
The information given herein is for educational purposes only. Reference to commercial products or trade names is made with the understanding that no discrimination is intended and no endorsement by the Texas AgriLife Extension Service is implied.
Educational programs of the Texas AgriLife Extension Service are open to all people without regard to race, color, sex, disability, religion, age, or national origin.
Publication Revised January 2009