The Italian flat leaf parsley is one of the two groups of leaf parsley (parsley used as herbs). The other one is the French parsley or the curly parsley. It is popular especially in its namesake Italy where almost every dish features the Italian flat leaf parsley. Do not be overwhelmed if you hear people refer to this plant using different names. Some call it simply Italian parsley, while others call it the flat-leaved parsley. In other English-speaking countries, this plant is called plain-leaved parsley. All three refer to just one plant.
Species: P. crispum
Binomial Name: Petroselinum crispum var. neapolitanum
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley Trivia
- Italian flat leaf parsley is a popular herb grown at home in gardens and containers.
- One of the advantages of planting Italian flat leaf parsley is that it attracts butterflies!
- If it is summer or if you are planting somewhere hot, plant Italian flat leaf parsley and not the curly parsley because the Italian flat leaf parsley is more heat tolerant.
- During ancient times, people avoid the flat-leafed variety of parsley because it looks the same as the poisonous weed known as fool’s parsley.
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley Buying Guide
Spot a fresh bunch of Italian flat leaf parsley in the market by inspecting the color of the leaves. It should have a vibrant color and looks clean overall. Smell it also. The aroma of Italian flat leaf parsley should be enough to indicate whether it is fresh or if it has been in the display for too long. If the leaves have wilted stalks and bruised or broken leaves, do not buy it. You can buy potted Italian flat leaf parsley, freshly-cut leaves, dried leaves, and powdered leaves in the market, farm stand, specialty store, or in an herb garden/nursery. If you are ordering online, it is possible the freshly-cut Italian flat leaf parsley leaves do not appear as fresh despite the promise of next-day delivery.
Italian Flat Leaf Parsley Production & Farming in Texas
Growing Italian flat leaf parsley requires soil that is fertile, moist, and well-draining. This plant can grow in acidic, alkaline, or neutral pH soil. Place it under full sun but a partial shade will do too. It is important to never let the soil dry out. Italian flat leaf parsley is hardy at zones 2-11. This means it can grow anywhere in Texas.
Usually, Italian flat leaf parsley is strong enough to hold its own against pests and other threats. But sometimes, this plant can also be overwhelmed by pests which is why it is important to always check your plant and know what you can do on the first sign of problem. These are some of the common problems of the Italian flat leaf parsley: leaf spot, carrot weevil, flea beetles, and leafhoppers.
- Leaf spot – Use sulfur sprays or copper-based fungicides to prevent the spores from germinating.
- Carrot weevil – You can use neem oil. Apply through foliar spraying.
- Flea beetles – The use of man-made pesticide carbaryl is the solution to rid of flea beetles. Other options include pyrethroid insecticides like cyfluthrin and Lambda cyhalothrin, pesticide malathion, pyrethrin spray, permethrin insecticide, and spinosad.
- Leafhoppers – Use systemic insecticide (acephate, imidacloprid or disulfoton). You can also use pyrethrin, which is a combination of six chemicals (pyrethrin I, pyrethrin II, cinerin I, cinerin II, jasmolin I, and jasmolin II). An organic version of pyrethrin involves the use of chrysanthemum flowers. When using pyrethrin, make sure to mix 7.5 to 15 oz of concentrate in 5 gallons of water and apply enough to cover the upper and lower leaf surfaces. You can also use Bifenthrin, Endosulfan, or Malathion.
The Italian flat leaf parsley is native to Southern Europe. Botanist Carl Linnaeus believed that the plant we now know as Italian flat leaf parsley is native to Sardinia, an island off the coast of Italy and southern France. It arrived in the United States in the 17th century, brought by colonists and travelers. Now this plant is considered native in many states here.
Packaging is important to make sure that the leaves remain clean once these are transported and put on display. You can buy freshly-cut leaves sold in a plastic clamshell container which allows you to see the condition of the leaves inside. Some manufacturers use sealed, polythene bags. Dried and powdered leaves are sold in bottles. Seeds are sold in packets or bottles. If you are buying live plants, these are usually sold in plastic pots or plastic nursery bags.
Enjoying Italian Flat Leaf Parsley
The Italian flat leaf parsley distinguishes itself from other types of parsley particularly the French / curly parsley taste-wise. Chefs and cooks believe that the Italian flat leaf parsley has a stronger flavor. Nonetheless, the Italian flat leaf parsley always has a fresh, clean taste with a hint of pepper, which helps bring out the flavor of the other ingredients in a dish. You can also taste the flavor of citrus, clove, and nutmeg. If you bite the stem and chew the leaves, you will notice that of the two, the stem is more flavorful and tastier.
You can put freshly-cut Italian flat leaf parsley inside a plastic bag or wrap it in a paper cloth or towel and then put it in the refrigerator. If you have a freezer bag, put Italian flat leaf parsley leaves inside and store it in the freezer for longer freshness. You can also flash-dry it by putting it inside a microwave and heating for 20 seconds (shorter or longer depending on the condition of the leaves) and once it is brittle, you can crush it and put it inside an herb bottle or any container with a lid. Place the container somewhere cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight. Another drying technique is to spread the Italian flat leaf parsley leaves out on a drying screen and then place this in a warm, dry room to allow it to completely dry. Make sure to turn the leaves every two days to make sure these dry out evenly. You’ll know these are completely dry when they turn brittle.
Chop Italian flat leaf parsley and use it for dried or fresh salad. It is also a good ingredient to use for vegetable dishes and egg dishes. It is also used for making sauce or for garnishing. One way of cooking using Italian flat leaf parsley is making it part of an herb bundle (bouquet garni) or an herb sachet (sachet d’epices) which, collectively, is used to flavor stocks and soups, even sauces too. Another way to cook Italian flat leaf parsley is by stripping the stem of leaves and tossing the leaves on the pot to add flavor. You can chop it to smaller pieces, although in dishes like salad, you can put the Italian flat leaf parsley leaves whole.
The Italian flat leaf parsley has antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has high concentrations of vitamins A, C, and K, iron, potassium, and copper. Italian flat leaf parsley helps in digestion. It also cleanses the palate.