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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... http://www.chefscatalog.com/product/2...

              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.

                  1. 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

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

                      1. re: twyst

                        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

                          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

                            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.

                        1. 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: linus

                              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.