The goal behind chopping fresh herbs is to do so in a way that doesn’t bruise them and make them bleed. If you go about chopping on your cutting board and end up finding that you’ve made a green mess, you either over-chopped or worked with a dull knife. If you’re knife is very sharp and you minced correctly, the steel should slide right through the leaves and your board should be dry when you’re finished.
In today’s post, I’m going to use parsley as my example herb. I ran out to our local grocery store this afternoon and picked up a bunch. When I put the parsley in the plastic bag, it was a bit wet. I’ve been waiting for it to dry for a few hours and I think it looked pretty good when I was ready to go. You may see some moisture in a few photos and that’s my fault. I suppose I could have waited a while longer, but I got impatient.
This is a quick photo of what I’m working with. As you can see, the parsley is in good shape and, as I mentioned above, it’s fairly dry. Dryness is key when it comes to keeping the minced leaves from clumping together. As you’re chopping, all the herb should continue to remain fluffy.
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Removing the Leaves From the Stems
The first task that needs completing is to remove the leaves from the stems. Now, you don’t have to go nuts here. Not every single leaf needs to be removed from every single stem. The goal here is to get enough material off to begin chopping. Also, you don’t want to eat any of the thicker, tougher stems, so be sure those aren’t in your pile.
The way I go about leaf removal is to divide my herb bunch into smaller sections and grab the stems of one of them. Once I’ve got a grip, I can simply slide my knife down the bunch. If my knife is sharp enough, the leaves will easily fall. As you can see in this next photo, I’m holding the parsley stems in one hand, with the bunch facing the board, and shaving the leaves off.
As you’re shaving leaves off, you need to keep an eye on the size of the pile you’ll be chopping. You don’t want it too big or things may get out of control. I like to work with smaller piles, so I stay neat and orderly. You can see one of my piles in the next photo.
It’s not a lot, but it’s enough to get started.
Chopping the Parsley
Now comes the fun part. To chop fresh herbs, hold your chef’s knife as you would any other time and rest your other hand on the blade. Simply rock back and forth, chopping and continually collecting the minced leaves back into the shrinking pile. Continue like this until you’ve got the size you’re looking for. Here’s an action shot for you.
And as you continue on, the pieces will get smaller and smaller. This is where is begins to really matter whether or not your leaves are wet. As you can see in this next photo, clumps are beginning to rear their ugly heads. It wasn’t too bad though because I was pretty much finished.
The Finished Product
I must say, this chopped herb looks very good. This is the first pile. If I were to continue on, obviously this pile would grow. For now though, this is all I chopped.
Go ahead and begin mincing your own parsley to see how much fun it truly is. You’ll surely find a recipe to use what you’ve done as an ingredient.
If you’d like to learn more about either preparing or using fresh herbs in your recipes, I encourage you to take a look at the following websites.
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