Kitchen Essentials: A Guide to Chopping Fresh Herbs

In cooking, fresh herbs mean the difference between ordinary and absolutely delicious! If you doubt me, try adding some fresh tarragon to your next batch of scrambled eggs and taste the delicious difference. Knowing how to chop fresh herbs will make it easy to add fresh flavor to all your favorite recipes.

How To Chop Fresh Herbs

Photos via Some the Wiser

Because there are a variety of different kinds of herbs, all with different leaves and textures, there are a few different ways to chop them.

Follow along to learn how to chop common types of herbs.

Step 1: Remove the leaves

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To prepare herbs with woody leaves, like rosemary, and herbs with very tiny leaves, like thyme, run your thumb and index finger down the stems to remove the leaves.

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To prepare herbs with larger leaves, like cilantro,parsley and basil, pluck the leaves from the stems.

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Step 2: Chopping the leaves

To chop the leaves, gather them together on a cutting board. Using a chef’s knife, rest the fingertips of one hand on the end of the knife (as pictured above) and rock the knife back and forth over the leaves.

To “coarsely chop” the leaves, rock the knife briefly leaving larger pieces of the leaves.

To “finely chop” the leaves, rock the knife back and forth until only small bits of leaves remain.

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Sometimes a recipe will call for an herb chiffonade. Chiffonade is a fancy French way of saying “thinly sliced.”

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To chiffonade an herb like sage, basil, or mint (herbs with large leaves) begin by stacking five or six leaves together. Roll the stacked leaves together, then cut them crosswise into thin slices.

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The thin slivers or ribbons of herb leaves that you end up with are a chiffonade!

And with that, get chopping! Fresh herbs make everything taste better.

Step 3: Storing fresh herbs

If you’ve ever purchased a bundle of fresh herbs for a recipe and later found them wilted and dull in the refrigerator, then you’ll appreciate how important it is to properly store your fresh herbs!

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First, purchase the freshest, best looking herbs available. When you bring them home, don’t wash them until you are ready to use them.

To properly store your fresh, unwashed herbs, begin by sorting them into two categories: Hard Herbs and Soft Herbs.

Hard Herbs have woody stems, like Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, and Marjoram. To store your hard herbs, wrap them loosely in a damp kitchen towel or paper towel and store them in your refrigerator crisper drawer. When properly stored, hard herbs will stay fresh for approximately 10 days.

Soft Herbs have tender stems and leaves, like Cilantro, Parsley , Tarragon, and Mint. To store your soft herbs, trim the ends with a pair of kitchen shears, like you would a bouquet of flowers, then place them, stem side down, in a glass of fresh water in the fridge. Make sure the water stays fresh and clear, changing it daily, and the soft herbs will remain fresh for about 7 days in the refrigerator.

To properly store fresh basil, follow the instructions above for soft herbs, but instead of placing the glass in the fridge, cover it loosely with a plastic bag and keep it on your kitchen counter at room temperature.

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