Easier way to chop basil and thyme?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by markg2, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. markg2

    markg2

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    I don't suppose there's some clever trick and/or tool for removing the leaves from the stem other than by pulling them off leaf or clump by leaf or clump? And then tediously cutting the pile with a knife that never seems sharp enough although it is?

    Mark
     
  2. duckfat

    duckfat

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    I never found basil to be a problematic as the leafs are easy to handle. Thyme on the other hand is a bit more difficult. I just lightly squeeze the thyme stem between my fingers in one hand and pull it through my fingers with the other. Like threading a needle between your fingers.

    Cutting herbs with a knife should only be tedious as you develop knife skills. If for some reason you can't physically cut herbs with a knife there are those rolling razor gizmos (I'm not a gadget fan) or you can opt for a processor or stick blender if you get one with a small bowl and blade attachment. Herbs are delicate so any thing other than cutting with a knife is usually a last resort for me with a few exceptions.

    Dave
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2012
  3. petemccracken

    petemccracken

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    Thyme leaves come off relatively easy if you strip them backwards, i.e. start at the tip and strip to the base.
     
  4. duckfat

    duckfat

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    Absolument! I pull thyme through my fingers exactly as Pete describes. It's much easier. In the fall after I harvest my thyme I allow it to dry in a brown paper bag and then I just roll it between my palms. It's very easy to deal with when dried but you do have to remove the small stems.

    Dave
     
  5. markg2

    markg2

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    So when you pull the thyme leaves backward off the main stem, frequently leaves will come off with smaller stems--that's been the time consuming part. Since the small stem is too small to pull backwards I then pick off the leaves. I don't suppose the solution is to cut up the small stems with the leaves?

    As someone inferred, a large part of my problem appears to be a lack of knife skill. I've watched a few web tube videos this morning and I'm beginning to learn what I've got to learn. Plus, what I thought was a sharp knife may not be.

    Thanks,

    Mark
     
  6. mkevenson

    mkevenson

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    Mark, the best thing is that you are eager to learn. The safest knife to use is the one that is sharp. Testing for sharpness is a matter of personal choice but I usually let the food tell me if the knife is sharp. If you have several knives that need sharpening you can use a piece of paper as a test, may dull a bit but I have never found it to be too damaging in the long run. Your blade should be able to easily slice from point to hilt without dragging. Even if you are not keen on sharpening your own knives, after the pro does it you have to maintain the edge with a steel or ceramic bar of some sort. I have found that some of the best blade sharpeners are also the least expensive and easiest to use.

    Good luck on the learning curve.

    Mark
     
  7. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    The tips or thyme are tender enough as are the strips that may stick to the leaves that I don't concern myself about them. I just chop them right on into the mix. If you're stressed about it, Leave the tips attached and discard them or save them up for stock maybe.

    The primary technique for basil is chiffonade. There are many sample videos on youtube to demonstrate the technique.