8 Tips on Chopping and Storing Herbs
While it may seem like an easy task to cut herbs, these flavorful yet delicate greens can become mushy or get easily bruised if not treated properly. Some herbs have stems that can be easily digested and in fact bring wonderful flavor to any dish, while other stems should be avoided. Here are some tips for making the most of your herbs.
- Wash your herbs. Always wash your herbs, but never cut them when they are wet. If you do you will turn your herbs to mush and risk bruising them. Tip: You can dry your herbs in a salad spinner. But your best bet is to let them sit out on a dry towel until they are completely dry.
- Use a sharp knife. A sharp knife makes for clean cuts and less handling of the herbs.
- Stems vs. leaves. For parsley, dill and cilantro don’t stop with just the leaves, you can eat the thin part of the stem as well. All you need to do is trim the bottom part, which tends to be a bit thicker. The stems of these herbs can even be frozen and kept for cooking and enhancing food flavors another day.
- Big leafy herbs. For herbs such as basil, sage or mint, pick the leaves off of the stems. Discard the stems. Stack leaves together and then roll together (in the shape of a cigarette). Slice the bundle lengthwise to create strips. Or, you can forego the stacking and rolling and simply tear the leaves into strips.
- Stripping leaves. Herbs such as thyme, rosemary, oregano and tarragon have wood stems that require you to strip the stems of their leaves. You can do this by placing the top of the stem between your index finger and thumb and then running your fingers lengthwise along the stem from top to bottom. When you have your desired amount of leaves, stack them together in a pile and mince them.
- Cutting chives. The beauty of chives is that the entire chive can be used. Bundle chives together and slice them crosswise into small circles.
- Storing. If you find yourself with extra herbs on hand, storing them properly will help them last longer. For more tender herbs such as parsley, or cilantro or dill, slightly trim the ends off and place them in a cup or mason jar filled with an inch or two of water. Place just the stems in the water, be sure to keep leaves dry. If herbs are being stored in the fridge, place a plastic bag loosely over the herbs yet seal the opening of the bag against the jar with an elastic band. If you are using a mason jar, you can place a lid on the jar. You can store Basil in a jar or cup in a similar manner except refrain from covering it and leave it out on the counter at room temperature but away from direct sunlight.
- Storing. Herbs such as thyme, rosemary, oregano and tarragon are more hardy and can be rolled into a damp paper towel and then placed in a plastic bag in the fridge.