Chimichurri, compound butter and freezing are just a few ways to preserve parsley for future use.
One of my must grow herbs, parsley is a staple ingredient is my kitchen. It can be used to dress up grilled asparagus, garnish hummus or top a tomato tart. The great thing about growing your own herbs is that you can use as much or as little as you need for a given recipe. If you live in a cool climate like me, you'll probably want to harvest it all before winter kicks in. This year, I harvested an obscene amount of parsley at the end of the season. It took over an entire shelf in the fridge. I had to think fast and process it for future use as there was no possible way to get through it all.
Even if you do not grow you own, parsley bunches from the grocery store can be quite large and getting through them before they turn to mush can be challenging. Preservation is key to reducing food waste.
Freezing Parsley leaves
Although parsley can be frozen, it will definitely lose its vibrant texture when it's defrosted. Frozen parsley will work in any recipe that calls for this herb to be added towards the end of the cooking process, like in strews, pasta sauces or curries. It will not be appropriate for salads or other fresh preparations.
To preserve, wash and dry thoroughly. You want to make sure no excess water is present as that can cause freezer burn. Cut lower part of stems (don't discard , see below). Place cleaned and dried parsley in a large freezer bag and push it down to the bottom. You want to create a compact log or cigar. Roll the log and squeeze out as much air out of the bag as you can. Seal and freeze. When you need some parsley, simply pull out the log and cut what you need.
Freezing Parsley Stems
Parsley stems are full of flavor but they can be tough and unappetizing. Although you may not want to eat them fresh, they are perfect in broth. They add a subtle herbal flavor to vegetable or chicken broths. What I like to do is loosely pack them in a freezer bag, squeeze out as much air as possible and seal. When it's freezing outside and the weather calls for a soothing and comforting soup, I will have parsley stems ready to add vibrant flavor.
Parsley stems can also be pulsed with carrots, celery and onions when making Bolognese or other meat based sauce that call for mirepoix. They can also be added to chili, stews and other dishes that require a long cooking time, allowing the stems to soften and break down.
Parsley Compound Butter
Another great way to preserve parsley is by chopping it up finely and mixing it in with softened butter. This flavored butter can be added to sauces, used to garnish cooked steak or added to pan fried fish. The possibilities are endless.
To make your compound butter, chop parsley finely and combine it with softened room temperature butter. Once mixed, place the butter on a sheet of saran wrap. Use the saran wrap to create a butter cylinder and twist the sides (like a candy wrapper) to create a tight log. Freeze log for 15 minutes, then slice the butter log into coins. Freeze coins solid in a container or freezer bag and you're good to go! Fresh homegrown parsley in the middle of winter.
This classic Argentinian condiment is so easy to make, I guarantee it'll be in your repertoire for years to come. Traditionally eaten with grilled meats, it can be enjoyed with fish, chicken or grilled vegetables. At its core, chimichurri is made with fresh parsley, oregano, garlic, olive oil and red wine vinegar. Some folks will add cilantro, others will add chili flakes. The great thing about chimichurri is that it's adaptable.
To prepare, simply add a few handfuls of fresh parsley to a food processor along with 2-3 cloves of garlic, a pinch of chili flakes, a big glug of extra virgin olive oil, a small glug of red wine vinegar, and salt/pepper. Pulse and taste. Adjust seasoning. If too dry, add more oil/vinegar. If too wet, add more parsley. Adjust until you get to a flavor profile you like.
Chimichurri should be refrigerated and will last for about 2 weeks, although you'll probably get through it before then. You can also freeze it in small containers or even ice cube trays!