Growing Parsley Root
When most of us think of parsley, we think of the green leafy herb that makes such a tasty addition to so many recipes. But, when growing parsley, you might want to consider also growing parsley root.
Two Crops, One Plant
Parsley root (Petroselinum crispum ssp. tuberosum) is one where both the leaves and the root are edible. While often compared to carrots (parsley is in the carrot family, as is anise, fennel, cumin and caraway), turnips, or parsnips, parsley root tastes more like celery. The parsley root leaves are more bitter than herb varieties and are also a bit tougher.
Parsley root is harvested and sold with the leaves and they should not be removed until you are ready to use the parsley.
While parsley root looks quite similar to parsnips and they are often used in similar recipes, they are not fully substitutable.
Parsley Root Uses
Parsley root is most commonly served as a cooked vegetable – like carrots and turnips. It is more commonly found in European kitchens. It is used in central and eastern European cuisine, particularly in soups and stews. They can be baked, fried, sauteed or even eaten cold. One particularly popular dish combines parsley root and fresh parsley into a creamy soup. Several recipes called for mashing parsley root much like is often done with turnips.
The origins of parsley root are clear when considering the names of many of the more popular cultivars – Hamburg Parsley, Heimischer, Dutch Parsley or in German – Wurzelpetersilie.
Parsley Root Varieties
Root parsley is often called Hamburg root parsley. The Fakir variety is often favored by growers and seed producers for its high yields and ‘smooth, well-filled roots’. Root parsley seeds, like the herbal varieties of parsley are slow germinators. Several sources indicated that seeds are fragile and not likely to germinate if leftover from the year before.
While the root of the herb is edible, when people refer to parsley root, they are referring to the vegetable and not the roots of the herb.
Planting Parsley Root
Parsley root seeds can either be planted in the fall, as nature intended, and they should come up on their own the following spring. Otherwise, parsley root is generally grown from purchased seed. Make sure the seed packets are labeled for the current growing season otherwise the seeds may not germinate.
Grow parsley root much like you would grow carrots or any other root crop. The soil shouldn’t be allowed to dry out and rich loamy soil is best.
More Parsley Facts
What to learn more about growing and using the herb parsley?
The history of parsley is a rich one. It’s slow germination rates have led to it being paired with the Devil and British folklore varied by location.