In an earlier post I spoke about my gargantuan basil garden and how I’m a little overwhelmed by the abundance of it. Now, it didn’t begin as a “basil garden” per se; it’s just become one because it bullied out the other herbs growing there. As a result, I’m still here with copious amount of the green herb. Now I’m mulling over what to do with it, and the obvious answer is: freeze some for later! This post is going to teach you a need-to-know technique when dealing with herbs- especially basil leaves. How to Chiffonade Herbs is vital knowledge. Right up there with how to properly apply false lashes (which I don’t know how to do- but whatevs).
Why do we chiffonade?
Mainly for aesthetic reasons. It just looks pretty. There’s no “taste” reason to do it. Herbs that are cut this way are usually those that will be topping something else, so you want them to have a nice appearance. I, sometimes, use this method when I’m going to mince my herbs because it ensures uniformity. You can say that’s another reason to chiffonade. But, again, the primary reason is because it looks great.
What does Chiffonade mean?
Chiffonade is obviously a French word- it means to cut into thin ribbons. That is precisely what you’re doing when you chiffonade anything. Be it basil, spinach, chard…as long as you are using this technique, you are chiffonading. The first step in pulling this off is to remove anything you don’t want to chiffonade from the leaf. If you are working with spinach or basil, like I am here, remove the tender stem. While these leaves have softer stems than, say, chard or kale, they are bitter, so you don’t want them included in your recipes. For those leaves with tough, woody stems- kale, chard, etc.- remove them because they’re a hassle and you don’t want to cut through them; let alone eat them.
How do you chiffonade herbs?
Once you’ve removed your stems, place your basil onto the cutting board you plan to use later. I like to find the biggest leaf in pile pile and use that as a base. From there, pile more leaves onto the bottom leaf, laying them flat and trying to use the biggest leaves for the bottom of the pile. This isn’t a hard and fast rule; it’s more like my own personal flow. The reason why I do it this way is to prevent the smaller leaves from jutting out once I move to the next step; which is:
To roll up the pile of leaves into a tight…well, um…a cigar-like package. No further comments.
Make sure your bundle of basil is tight when you roll it. This will ensure you have even ribbons after you’ve cut. If you have a loose bundle or it’s not rolled properly, your ribbons will be thicker in some areas and thinner in others. Obviously, no one’s going to grade you on your performance, but if we’re learning to do a technique, we’re going to learn to do it right, right? Right!
Now that your bundle is rolled tightly, grab your chef’s knife with your dominant hand. Basil bundle is in your opposite hand, held down by your fingers (which are curled under for safety). Run the blade of your knife through the bundle of basil starting at the tip of the bundle. Work your way through the roll in eight of an inch slices. This, when complete will leave you with green ribbons of herbs.
From here you can pack the chiffonade basil into ice cube trays and freeze them for stirring into sauces or other recipes at later date. You can also use it fresh on recipes like this Chèvre and Tomato Tart.
So, here’s one more technique to wow your friends and family with. Pin it so you can practice later, then share it with your herb-loving friends!
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I never would have known this! Thanks for sharing!
My pleasure, Kelsey!
Funny I just did a recipe the other day and I had to google what chiffonade meant! Good post!
Awesome! I wish I would’ve put it out sooner, Candice!
It’s my first time to hear about chiffonade; this is an interesting post. I usually don’t eat the herbs, though! Every time a food is served and I see those herbs or flowers, I always wonder if I can eat it or not. Good thing, my boyfriend knows about it and he said it’s not just a decoration, but I could also eat it. Haha.
Yes, Karen! Eat and enjoy those herbs!
I’ve always thought it was amazing how many people don’t use fresh herbs in the kitchen. The flavor is amazing. Great tutorial!
I think so too, Lecy! I prefer fresh herbs over dry any chance I can get my hands on them.