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Knife Skills: How to Chop and Chiffonade Herbs

Slideshow SLIDESHOW: Knife Skills: How to Chop and Chiffonade Herbs

Here's a bit of deductive reasoning.

Let's start with three base assumptions about you:

Assumption the First: You agree that fresh herbs play a vital role in many savory dishes, adding a last minute burst of flavor and color.
Assumption the Second: You do not live in the '50s, and your name is not Betty Crocker.
Assumption the Third: You have been known to cook on occasion.

Given these three assumptions, we can then conclude that inedible garnishes like whole sprigs of curly parsley around a canned pineapple-crusted ham are not something that are in your repertoire, nor do you desire for them to be.

From there, we can then conclude that you fall into one of two categories of people: Those who already know how to chop herbs properly, and those that don't, but would really like to learn.

This slideshow is for the latter group.

Shopping and Storage

Shopping for herbs is much like shopping for flowers. Look for specimens that have full, lively looking leaves. If you grab a bunch of leafy herbs like parsley from the stem and hold them horizontally, the leaves should stay relatively high. If they fall down limp, then keep looking.

Store whole stem-on herbs in loosely closed plastic bags in your refrigerators crisper drawer. Picked leaves should be washed, spun dry, placed on a damp paper towel, rolled up, the stored in a plastic bag left slightly open. Chopped herbs should be stored in a sealed container, underneath a layer of damp paper towel in order to help them retain moisture.

With proper storage, fresh herbs should last about five days in the fridge.

If you find yourself with a glut, the best way to store them for future use is to chop them, place them in an ice cube tray, top the wells up with water, and freeze. You won't be able to use them for garnish, but the frozen blocks of herb can be added directly to sauces and stews.

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