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I am trying to store parsley safely at room temperature using the following method:

  1. I snip off a little from the stem part and put parsley in a jar filled with around an inch of water
  2. I loosely cover parsley with a plastic bag to preserve humidity.

While this method helped me keep the parsley leaves from getting brownish and dry, I am experiencing another problem:

The part of the stem that was exposed to water is wilting for some reason.

Does anyone have a scientific explanation to why this is happening? Am I using too much water? or too little? Too hot? Too cold?

Thanks in advance :)

P.S. I'm thinking of doing the same thing but just without water in the jar. Would it work better?

  • Just keep in a closed container, nto airtight, no water required – TFD Sep 20 '14 at 23:18
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    I don't have a scientific answer, though I keep my parsely,thyme,oregano (and others) in a very similar manner. I have experiences where exposure to natural/indirect sunlight caused an algae to form on any part of the herb that was in contact with or submerged in the water and seemed to affect the stems as you described. So now I keep them away from the light (I also use a rubberband to seal the bag around the jar/ramekin too). – Michael E. Sep 21 '14 at 3:19
  • So, not airtight but closed enough so air can hardly escape right? But if you use rubberband wouldn't you be making it airtight? Also, how long can you keep parsley like that? I'm guessing around 10 days? With the method I described above, excluding the water-exposed part, I managed to keep parsley fully green... – Joshua Sep 21 '14 at 12:06
  • I freeze it, and shave off what I need. Never found a good way to preserve it at room temp. – Grey Dog Sep 21 '14 at 21:59
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The scientific reason? Not without seeing your specimen. (wink, wink)

Seriously, unlike cut flowers and other herbs like sage or rosemary, parsley is simply not happy in water for more than a couple of days, especially towards the end of the growing season and/or if it had been harvested some time ago. Nothing to do with the water, although that should be cold and changed daily for the best results.

Your parsley simply stopped taking up water and started to shut down cells, starting at the bottom of the stem. They are drying out and shrinking, so can no longer support the stem and appear to be wilting. This will continue up the stem once the water stored in the cells starts to evaporate. Conserving water already present is the most you can do. The plastic bag, which is slowing down transpiration, helps. You are lucky it is not starting to rot or develop moulds in the humid atmosphere inside an unventilated bag at room temperature.

If you have no fridge, try hanging a bunch of parsley upside down in a plastic bag in the coldest place you can find and out of direct sunshine. To save wastage, chop and freeze is the only way to go for long-term storage, or buy potted parsley instead of bunches, if you have no garden or balcony for growing it yourself. Some stores and farmers markets sell parsley with roots or parts thereof still intact. They will keep in a jar of water far more successfully.

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I would keep cut parsley in the refrigerator, either in a little water in a jar or in a plastic bag, similar to cut flowers that are preserved by refrigeration.

  • Am I missing something, or is this what the OP is already doing? – Cascabel Sep 23 '14 at 17:24
  • Is OP = original poster? It seems OP is leaving at room temperature. Otherwise, yes, very similar. I'll edit down my answer. – Tanya C Sep 23 '14 at 18:31
  • Aha, I did miss that difference, thanks! There's nothing wrong with the asparagus comparison, I just mistakenly thought you weren't suggesting changing anything. – Cascabel Sep 23 '14 at 18:32

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