How to preserve Italian parsley

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how to preserve Italian parsley” and discuss the different methods of preserving Italian Italian parsley.

How to preserve Italian parsley

Studies reported that fresh produce (e.g., leafy greens, tomatoes, fresh herbs, fresh fruit/berries) accounted for more than 46% of the foodborne disease outbreaks in the U.S. from 1998 to 2008 (1).

Italian parsley can be preserved by :

  • Refrigerating
  • Freezing
  • Drying

Parsley is one of the best-known herbs worldwide and is used as a garnish for a variety of dishes. There are 2 main varieties of parsley, namely Italian or flat-leaf parsley and curly-leaf parsley. 

Italian parsley has broad, flat leaves and is more flavourful than curly-leaf parsley so it is used more commonly in dishes. However, both Italian and curly-leaf parsley can be used interchangeably and they can also be preserved using the same methods.

Curly parsley is widely applied as a culinary herb. Due to its growth close to ground level and its curly leaf structure, it is inherently affected by high counts of autochthonous microbiota, which may include pathogens. Washing of leaves prior to freezing is the only step in the processing of deep-frozen parsley enabling the reduction of viable counts (4).

How to preserve Italian parsley by refrigerating

Refrigerating is the best and easiest method to preserve Italian parsley. Refrigerated Italian Italian parsley will have the same flavor and texture as fresh Italian parsley. The only drawback is that refrigerated Italian parsley must be used within 2 weeks.

The quality losses consist of changes in color (discoloration, yellowing), texture (loss of crispness or juiciness), flavor (off-flavors) and water losses. Temperature is the most important environmental factor that influences the quality of plant foods. 

In a study minimally processed parsley sealed in polyethylene bags was stored at 4°C for 12 days and had a shelf life of up to 12 days of storage, with little modifications of sensory parameters (2).

There are 2 ways to refrigerate Italian parsley, one is by wrapping a damp paper towel and the other is by immersing the stems in water.

To refrigerate Italian parsley in a damp towel:

  • Wash the Italian parsley in clean water.
  • Remove the excess water by using a salad spinner or paper towels.
  • Wrap the Italian parsley in a damp towel.
  • Place the towel inside a plastic bag.
  • Refrigerate until needed.

The above method preserves Italian parsley for about 10 days and they don’t have to be washed again before using in a recipe. 

To refrigerate Italian parsley by immersing stems in water:

  • Do not wash the Italian parsley beforehand.
  • Trim off a small section of the Italian parsley stems.
  • Immerse the Italian parsley stems in a glass of water so that the leaves stand upright.
  • Cover the leaves with a plastic bag.
  • Place it in the refrigerator.
  • Replace the water in the glass every 2 days to prevent microbial growth.

The above method allows Italian parsley to be stored for about 2 weeks and they must be washed before being in a recipe.

A study showed that  leafy parsley stored under cold storage conditions keep more ascorbic acid when stored using the traditional method of tufts immersed in water (3).

How to preserve Italian parsley by freezing

Freezing properly will preserve Italian parsley for about 6 months (5)..

Even though there was minimum change in the color of frozen stored parsley after 6 months, the quality attributes ‘typical odor’, ‘off-odor’, and ‘taste’ of stored parsley products were significantly downgraded compared to the freshly prepared standard, revealing substantial quality loss during frozen storage (4).

Frozen Italian parsley cannot be used as a garnish since they lose texture once thawed. However, they can still be added to other recipes where the Italian parsley will be heated or cooked such as soups and stews.

There are quite a few ways to freeze Italian parsley. You can freeze whole Italian parsley stalks, chop or mince them up, or even freeze them in ice cube trays with or without water. Chopped Italian parsley can also be mixed with other herbs of choice and then frozen.

To freeze Italian parsley leaves: 

  • Wash the Italian parsley in clean water. 
  • Remove the excess water by using a salad spinner or paper towels. You can either freeze with or without the stems.
  • Place the leaves inside a ziplock bag and squeeze out all the air. Leaves can be chopped or minced into a desired size at this point but whole leaves will retain more flavor. 
  • Seal, label and place the bag in the freezer.

To freeze Italian parsley leaves in an ice cube tray:

  • Wash the Italian parsley in clean water. 
  • Remove the excess water by using a salad spinner or paper towels. Remove the Italian parsley leaves from the stems.
  • Place a few Italian parsley leaves inside each cubicle of the ice cube tray and top up with water. Be sure to use as little water as possible. Olive oil or cooking oil can be added instead of water if a stronger taste is preferred. Italian parsley frozen in oil will melt sooner when added to dishes.
  • Chopped or minced Italian parsley can also be instead of whole leaves.
  • Place the tray in the freezer until all the cubes are frozen.
  • Transfer the frozen cubes into a ziplock bag.
  • Squeeze out the air, seal, label and return it to the freezer.

How to preserve Italian parsley by drying

Italian parsley preserves well with drying and retains most of its flavor and aroma when compared to curly-leaf parsley. Drying will preserve Italian parsley for about a year when stored in the freezer. Dried herbs stored in an airtight container are good for up to three months when stored in a cool, dry location (5).

There are several methods to dry Italian parsley. 

Italian parsley can be dried by:

  • Air-drying
  • Sun-drying
  • Using a food dehydrator
  • Using an oven
  • Using a microwave

Dried Italian parsley must always be stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place away from moisture. Dried Italian parsley can also be frozen for about a year and a half but once again, there will be a loss of flavor.

You can find out more about the methods used to dry Italian parsley here.

Other FAQs about Parsley that you may be interested in.

Can you cook parsley?

How long does parsley last in the fridge?

What can I substitute for parsley?


In this brief guide, we answered the question “how to preserve Italian parsley” and discussed the different methods used to preserve Italian parsley.

If you have any questions or comments, please let us know.


  1. Yu, Heyao, et al. Food safety and food quality perceptions of farmers’ market consumers in the United States. Food Control, 2017, 79, 266-271. 
  2. RANGA, Adriana DAVID, and Mircea MUNTEAN. The Effect of Cold Storage on Some Quality Characteristics of Minimally Processed Parsley (Petroselinum crispum), Dill (Anethum graveolens) and Lovage (Levisticum officinale) Giorgiana Mihaela CĂTUNESCU, Maria TOFANĂ, Crina MUREŞAN, Floricuţa. Bull UASVM Agri, 2012, 69, 2.
  3. Sitarek-Andrzejczyk, Monika, Jarosław Przybył, and Marek Gajewski. The effect of post-harvest treatment and storage conditions on vitamin C content in two leafy parsley cultivars. International scientific conference RURAL DEVELOP, 2017
  4. Nübling, S., Hägele, F., Schweiggert, R.M. et al. Effect of Different Wash Water Additives and Deep-Frozen Storage on the Quality of Curly Parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. crispum). Food Bioprocess Technol, 2019, 12, 158–165.
  5. Lambert,A. Preserving Herbs. 2022. University of South Dakota.