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Jul 16, 2012 10:41 AM

Knife for cutting herbs

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.

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  1. i usually tear leves
    or us small scissor-nail

    1. 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

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

        1. re: Chemicalkinetics

          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: scubadoo97

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

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

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

                1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                  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

                    Oh I see. Thanks Petek, scubaddo and JavaBean.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                      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

                        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

              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. There are these...

              A lot cheaper than a good knife.


              2 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu

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

                1. re: ellabee

                  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. 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. 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.