HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Knife for cutting herbs

Laharre Jul 16, 2012 10:41 AM

I have been trying to find a knife that'd work well cutting basil for pesto that's sharp enough not to make the green marks on the leaves. Does anyone have a good suggestion for style of knife to use, or a particular brand? I really can't spend a whole lot (upwards of 100$) on the top end kind of knife.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. jpr54_1 RE: Laharre Jul 16, 2012 10:43 AM

    i usually tear leves
    or us small scissor-nail

    1. petek RE: Laharre Jul 16, 2012 10:54 AM

      The thinner and sharper the knife the better.Technique is also important.You don't want to bruise the basil.Roll the leaves up like a cigar(or whatever) and cut them into ribbons,chiffonade, then slice the ribbons at different angles,don't smash the herbs like a mad man(woman).

      Having said that,I make pesto in a robo-coup/blender/Cuisinart way easier.. :D

      11 Replies
      1. re: petek
        Chemicalkinetics RE: petek Jul 16, 2012 12:18 PM

        Petek. I do not know much about pesto. What exactly will happen if I bruise the basil leaves?

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics
          petek RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 16, 2012 12:47 PM

          Any "soft" herb(parsley,tarragon, basil,chervil etc) will bruise if you're too rough with them.It darkens/discolours when bruised,more of a visual thing.
          Harder herbs can be roughed up a bit more,but not too much.. :D

          1. re: petek
            Chemicalkinetics RE: petek Jul 16, 2012 12:59 PM

            Thanks Pete. Appreciate.

          2. re: Chemicalkinetics
            scubadoo97 RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 16, 2012 02:59 PM

            begins to rot

            1. re: scubadoo97
              Chemicalkinetics RE: scubadoo97 Jul 16, 2012 03:29 PM

              Do you mean the pesto will have a "off tasting flavor" because the basil leaves begin to rot?

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                JavaBean RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 16, 2012 04:12 PM

                I'm not sure if it taste different, but it looks terrible and limp.

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  scubadoo97 RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 16, 2012 04:13 PM

                  it has a shorter shelf life. No off taste in a pesto but if you bruise a leave and keep one intact and store them you will see the one intact will last longer.

                  1. re: scubadoo97
                    Chemicalkinetics RE: scubadoo97 Jul 16, 2012 05:20 PM

                    Oh I see. Thanks Petek, scubaddo and JavaBean.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      sherrib RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 16, 2012 06:33 PM

                      Hi Chem,
                      Another thing you can do to keep pesto from developing a dark color is to blanche then shock the basil in ice water. Then run it through the food processor with the other ingredients. This will help keep a vibrant green color.

                      1. re: sherrib
                        linus RE: sherrib Jul 16, 2012 08:51 PM

                        as well as blanch/shock, ive added a teeny bit of crushed vitamin c to pesto, and it seems to help a little.
                        that said, the best tasting pesto is made with a pestle and mortar, no blanching, shocking or additives. by my experience.

            2. re: petek
              ThanksVille RE: petek Jul 16, 2012 03:36 PM

              Ditto on thinner and sharper to maintain appearance without discoloration. A bit difficult when doing the cigar roll approach; however, we've found if you stack basil leaves of comparable size together, you can use a very sharp paring knife tip to slice the same ribbons parallel to the spine of the leaf (and conveniently toss away the stack of coarse splines) all without any risk of bruising or darkening. Pesto making, best done among friends with case lots of basil and dozens of garlic bulbs and the freshest olive oil you can locate is perfectly happy coming from a pulsed cuisinart. We freeze pint containers without adding the pine nuts or parmignano as their reintroduction upon defrosting helps give a fresh dimension to the emulsion. With pesto you have to bruise to release the flavors and while our pesto making party is always guaranteed to yield at least. 8 containers per family. We do a huge dinner in order to enjoy the freshest of the fresh bruised that is, with cheese and pignoli nuts of course.

            3. kaleokahu RE: Laharre Jul 16, 2012 12:57 PM

              There are these... http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/2...

              A lot cheaper than a good knife.


              2 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu
                ellabee RE: kaleokahu Jul 16, 2012 04:09 PM

                And a lot less useful than a good, sharp knife.

                1. re: ellabee
                  kaleokahu RE: ellabee Jul 16, 2012 08:04 PM

                  Hi, ellabee:

                  Well, they're certainly a single-purpose tool, and definitely not as easy to clean. But each snip gets you 5 perfectly uniform sections of the herb, versus take-your-chances with the knife and chiffonade.

                  I don't have one of these scissors, and probably never will. If I used a lot of things like chives, though, I would consider one.


              2. j
                JavaBean RE: Laharre Jul 16, 2012 04:07 PM

                Hi. We usually make our do pesto in large amounts using a food processor and then store it the freezer. For smaller amounts, I’ve used a variety of different types of knives and find the key is to use a very sharp knife. The sharper the knife, the cleaner the cut, the less quickly the basil will turn dark green. You might want to try sharpening your knife first.

                1. Duppie RE: Laharre Jul 16, 2012 05:34 PM

                  What ever happened to a sharp chef's knife?perhaps it's just me but the last thing I need sharing space with the garlic press,melon baller,ball whisk and mezzaluna is another expensive, redundant kitchen tool.

                  1. Chemicalkinetics RE: Laharre Jul 16, 2012 05:39 PM

                    This is in no way a reply for your solution. I am really expressing my finding without promoting it. Due to your question, I got interested and look up specific knives for herbs, and I found the Mezzaluna. I have seen Mezzaluna, but I suppose that I have never used in them since I do not chop herbs all that often.


                    Now, I do not know if this is a solution for you, but I am posting it here for all to see.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      twyst RE: Chemicalkinetics Jul 16, 2012 05:41 PM

                      They are actually pretty awesome if you do a ton of herb chopping

                      1. re: twyst
                        Chemicalkinetics RE: twyst Jul 16, 2012 05:46 PM

                        For some strange reasons, the messalunas remind me of the herbal grinding wheel. I know they are not the same, but they both have that ancient feel to me


                        1. re: twyst
                          sherrib RE: twyst Jul 16, 2012 06:40 PM

                          Hi twyst,

                          I do A TON of herb chopping and have been drooling over this mezzaluna for ages:


                          I just don't know enough people out there that use mezzalunas and, specifically, what their knife skills are like. I have decent enough knife skills that I've been getting by good enough with my chef's knife. Would something like this make it THAT much easier for someone like me? My inclination has always been that mezzalunas are more beneficial for someone who doesn't have the greatest knife skills. Am I wrong?

                          1. re: sherrib
                            Miss Priss RE: sherrib Jul 17, 2012 12:50 PM

                            I bought a mezzaluna a couple of years ago, mainly out of curiosity. It's sharp enough, but I never got used to it and almost never reach for it any more. The two-handed action feels awkward to me; and even though my knife skills are average at best, I don't find the it to be any faster or more effective than a knife. My $7 Kiwi, whose blade is too light and thin for some tasks, chops herbs beautifully without bruising them.

                      2. EWSflash RE: Laharre Jul 16, 2012 06:12 PM

                        I use sharp scissors.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: EWSflash
                          Chemicalkinetics RE: EWSflash Jul 16, 2012 07:38 PM

                          Regularly scissors or the mult-blade herbal scissors?


                        2. TeRReT RE: Laharre Jul 16, 2012 10:40 PM

                          For garnish herbs I use a thin Japanese parry knife to chiffonade. That said, I do this only when garnishing or if slicing/chopping fine for something like a bruschetta or where I don't want the herbs to colour.

                          A pesto, on the other hand, I am more interested in teasing out as much flavour as I can, and I don't mind bruising the herbs. I prefer a mortar and pestle which actually encourages bruising.

                          If I am making a pasta sauce I will tear the basil leaves as that is how I was taught to do it in Italy.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: TeRReT
                            linus RE: TeRReT Jul 17, 2012 09:51 AM

                            this guy is the man:

                            1. re: linus
                              strangemd RE: linus Jul 17, 2012 12:14 PM

                              I have used a mezzaluna for 20 years for herbs, especially if there's a big pile to go through. It's easy, efficient, and makes quick work of large quantities. Henckel's makes a good one that would be in your price range.

                          Show Hidden Posts