Stripping For Herbs

How many times has this happened to you?  You’re cooking your latest masterpiece and some fresh herbs would really make that dish some next level dinner.  BUT!  You  forgot to prep those before you started cooking and now you’re behind the eight ball.  On the fly, you grab a handful of something, skim your knife across a pile of it and call it good.  You think it’s all cool until you sit down to the table and realize that you’re eating a beautiful meal of…  rough cut stems.

It could be a dealbreaker.  You could be 86éd from future dinner plans with a fail like that.

Don’t let this faux paux happen to you. It’s really easy to pick herbs once you get the hang of it and totally worth it if you want a better eating experience.  Not only do you save yourself picking tough parsley stems from between your teeth, I find that the stems tend to be a bit more bitter on some herbs, thereby muddling the taste of your accoutrement.  Its worth the five minutes before getting started, so make some time for it.

Belly up to the tip rail and I’ll show you the basics of how to work a herb.

 A Triple Threat Of Herb Stripping

You will need:

-Fresh flat leaf parsley

-Fresh thyme

-Fresh tarragon

-Fresh rosemary

How To:

Pinch Technique:  This technique of stripping works best for herbs such as parsley, oregano, sage, et cetera where larger leaves grow from a main stalk.  Commonly, the leaves are picked from the stems most efficiently where the leaves rejoin the stalk, as shown.

Fold the side leaves together and pinch them off from the main stalk first.   Use your fingernails to slice the herbs from the stalk, as shown.  Do not attempt to pull the leaves from the plant, as they will most likely tear.



Repeat this for the larger leaf in the center.




Zipper Technique: Works best for smaller leaved herbs with a solid main stalk, such as thyme.

If there are smaller branches growing from a main stalk (like the thyme shown above), pinch off the smaller branches.




Once the branches have been separared, begin at the top of the branch and grasp it using the pad of your forefinger and thumb.  Lightly slide your fingers down the stalk in the opposite direction of growth from the leaves, as shown.  Run your fingers from the top from the bottom.  (Please note, the top may be snapped off due to the delicacy of the branch, it can be tossed away with the empty branch.)



Pinch And Zipper Technique
: This techinique works very well for herbs that have short branches off of a main stalk, such as rosemary or tarragon.

Like the zipper method, grasp the branch from the top and use your index finger and thumb pads to slide downwards against the growth pattern.  For delicate herbs, such as tarragon, use a light grip, as shown.





For heartier herbs, such as rosemary, you can grip a bit tighter.





Once the smaller branches are stripped, remove the individual leaves as in the pinch technique.  Be gentle with the delicate herbs.




Tougher herb leaves, such as rosemary, can be pinched off more forcefully (or in some cases even picked off).

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