When to pick parsley and how to store it

Parsley is a biennial plant that can add fresh, bright flavor to various dishes. Many people wonder when to gather parsley, and what is the best way to do it. In this article, we’ll discuss the best time to harvest parsley and tips for storing it to maintain its flavor and nutritional value.

when to pick parsley

About parsley

Parsley is a popular herb that is commonly used in cooking and has a variety of health benefits. Also, you can grow parsley both in an herb garden and on a windowsill. Here are some interesting facts about parsley:

  • Parsley is native to the Mediterranean region and has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for thousands of years.
  • There are two main types of parsley: curly-leaf parsley and flat-leaf parsley. You may know them by other names: Italian parsley or French parsley. Flat-leaf parsley is more commonly used in cooking due to its more robust flavor, while curly-leaf parsley is often used as a garnish. It’s also worth mentioning curly parsley, which has a milder flavor than the plants mentioned above.
  • Parsley, especially flat-leaf parsley, is a good source of vitamin C, folate, and iron. Italian parsley also contains flavonoids and other compounds that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • The parsley plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat various conditions, including digestive disorders, urinary tract infections, and high blood pressure.

You can enjoy its unique flavor and potential health benefits by incorporating curly parsley into your diet.

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When to harvest parsley

As it is a biennial plant, parsley is typically ready to harvest at any time of the season when it has grown to a height of 6-8 inches and has a few pairs of leaves. It usually takes around 70-90 days after sowing the seeds.

It’s best to harvest parsley in the morning after the dew has dried on the leaves.

Parsley can be harvested at any time of the year, but the best time to keep it depends on the plant’s use and growth stage. Here are some signs that your parsley is ready to be harvested:

  • The plant has at least three leaf clusters. Wait until the parsley plant has at least three leaf clusters before harvesting the outer leaves.
  • The leaves are dark green and healthy-looking. Parsley has got dark green leaves without blemishes or discoloration. Sometimes, some parsley leaves can have a bright green color than other leaves. This indicates that the plant is healthy and ready to be harvested.
  • The leaves are large enough to use. Harvest leaves that are large enough to use in your recipes. The outer leaves are usually larger than the inner leaves, so focus on harvesting those.
  • The plant has not gone to seed. Parsley leaves are most flavorful when harvested before the plant goes to seed. Once the plant has gone to seed, the leaves may become bitter and less flavorful.
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How to harvest parsley

To gather parsley plants, use a sharp knife or scissors to cut the outer leaves of the leaf stems.

It’s important to avoid pulling the leaves, as this can damage the plant and reduce its yield.

If you need a large amount of parsley, it’s best to harvest it gradually over time rather than all at once.

Harvesting parsley seeds

You can harvest parsley seeds by following some steps:

  1. Wait for the parsley flowers: Parsley plants typically flower in their second year of growth. The flowers will eventually produce seed heads that look like small, green bulbs.
  2. Allow the seed heads to dry: Once the seed heads have formed, allow them to dry on the plant. The seeds will turn brownish-gray and become brittle when they’re fully mature.
  3. Harvesting parsley seeds: Once the seed heads have dried, cut them from the plant and place them in a paper bag. Crush the seed heads gently to release the seeds.
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Storing parsley

You can keep parsley stalks in the refrigerator and keep them fresh for some time. However, it’s best to gather parsley plants in the fridge or in the freezer to keep them fresh longer.

In the fridge

Here are the steps to store parsley in the fridge:

  1. Rinse the parsley: Rinse the plant leaves under cool running water to remove any dirt or debris.
  2. Dry the parsley: Pat the leaves dry with a paper towel or spin them in a salad spinner to remove excess water. Note that it should be completely dry.
  3. Wrap the parsley: Wrap the plant in a damp paper towel or a damp kitchen towel. This will help keep the parsley fresh by preventing it from drying out.
  4. Store the parsley: Place the wrapped parsley in a plastic bag or an airtight container. Make sure the container is sealed tightly to prevent air from getting in.
  5. Refrigerate the parsley: Keep the plant in the refrigerator’s crisper drawer or on a shelf for up to two weeks.

By using these guidelines, you can store parsley in the fridge and keep it fresh for longer, so you can use it in your favorite recipes when you need it.

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In the freezer

Here are the steps to freeze parsley:

  1. Chop the parsley: Finely chop a few leaves using a knife or food processor.
  2. Fill an ice cube tray: Spoon the chopped parsley into a tray, filling each cube about halfway.
  3. Add water: Fill each cube with water, making sure the parsley is completely covered.
  4. Freeze the parsley: Place the tray in the freezer and freeze until solid.
  5. Keep the parsley: Once the parsley cubes are frozen, remove them from the ice cube tray and store them in a freezer-safe bag or container.

By using these guidelines, you can freeze parsley and keep it fresh for up to 6 months. Frozen parsley is great for use in cooked dishes.

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Hints for increasing parsley flavor

To get the most flavor out of your parsley plants, use them as soon as possible after harvesting them. Parsley is best when it’s fresh, and its flavor will diminish over time. Here are some hints for increasing parsley flavor:

  • Use fresh parsley: Fresh parsley has a much stronger flavor than when you dry parsley, so try to use it whenever possible. If you do use dried parsley, make sure it’s fresh and hasn’t lost its flavor.
  • Add parsley leaves at the end of cooking: the plant is delicate and can lose its flavor if cooked for too long. Add it at the end of cooking. Sometimes it may be used as a garnish to preserve its flavor.
  • Use parsley stems: Tender stems are often overlooked, but they have a lot of flavors. Chop them finely and add them to dishes.
  • Balance parsley with other flavors: The plant has a slightly bitter, earthy flavor that can be balanced with other flavors like lemon, garlic, or mint. More than that, people also like to eat fresh salads, so you can combine parsley not only with vegetables but also with oils e.g. olive oil, sunflower oil, etc.
  • Storing parsley perfectly: Keeping parsley appropriately can help preserve the flavor of parsley.
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Frequently asked questions

Does parsley grow back after cutting?

Parsley can grow back after cutting. Cutting parsley regularly can help it grow healthier and more robust.

How do you know when you can harvest parsley?

You can harvest parsley when it has grown to about 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in height and has at least 3-4 pairs of leaves. The outer leaves of the parsley plant can be gathered individually as needed, or you can cut the entire plant at once.

When should you cut parsley?

Parsley can be harvested at any time of the season. However, it’s better to harvest parsley leaves in the early summer or autumn when the plant is in its highest growth state and produces more leaves. In hot summer months, parsley can quickly dry out and wither.

How do you harvest and store fresh parsley?

Harvesting parsley can be done by cutting its leaves. Then wash the leaves and pat them dry. You can keep fresh parsley either in the fridge or in the icebox. For such a reason, it’s better to use an airtight container.


In conclusion, parsley is a biennial and fresh herb that can improve the taste of many dishes. Knowing how and when to gather plants can help you get the most out of this herb. Harvesting parsley at the right time and using the proper methods can help maintain its flavor and freshness.

By using the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure that your parsley harvest is optimal and that you can enjoy the flavor and nourishing benefits of the parsley plant throughout the year. Parsley is indispensable to our organism. So go ahead and try harvesting your parsley, and enjoy the fresh taste and aroma that it brings to your meals!

Irene Harper

I am a fan of healthy eating, so I studied a lot of information on how to grow microgreens on my own.

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