I love fall, and I love to cook fall foods. But I am also very lazy. So while I’ve been fantasizing about savory, herb-roasted dishes, I’ve also been disheartened by the thought of spending long hours in the kitchen instead of doing what I really want to do: jump in a pile of leaves.
There's one particularly tedious kitchen task that always brings me down: de-stemming herbs.
So, when I learned of Chef'n Zip Strip Herb Zipper I hoped it would solve my dilemma and mean more thyme and rosemary perfumed roasts and soups this fall—even while I remained skeptical of the lure of these kinds of single-use tools.
The herb zipper aims to curtail the annoying and time-consuming process of pulling individual herbs off the stem. Instead, the product is designed to work as follows: push a strand of herbs through one of the device’s holes, which will strip the leaves from the stem and collect them into the attached plastic bowl.
Another advantage? The bowl has measuring markers, which means you can measure your herb quantity with the device instead of having to strip and then measure later on. The zipper contains various holes sized to fit different varieties of herb; Sur La Table recommends using it with “woody herbs like rosemary, thyme, lavender, sage.”
So, is it worth it? I tried to answer that question in the way I know best: by making a rosemary-infused cocktail. That is, I started out small: with a simple cocktail that required very little prep time.
Perusing the user reviews, I caught on to a tip for using the device recommended by a user named Amy R in 2014: “Rosemary works the best it you thread it through tip to base...effectively pulling ‘against the grain.’” (The product photo demonstrates the rosemary being pulled through with the grain.) This method worked—really well! Thanks to the device (and Amy R.), I was able to remove the rosemary leaves much more efficiently than if I’d had to pull the leaves off of the stems by hand.
8.00, Sur La Table
For my next round of testing, I decided to make Cavatappi with Broccolini, Brown Butter, and Sage. This time, I was working under a time constraint: instead of de-stemming the herbs with leisure ahead of time, as I had done with my cocktail, I was making this pasta dish as a weeknight dinner for me and my girlfriend, and wanted to get it done—fast.
This time, the device was a bit more frustrating. I often had to push my herb stems through the hole multiple times before the leaves got fully sheared off, and none of the holes fit the sage stems perfectly, forcing me to occasionally alternate between the different size options. Sometimes, the stems broke. Ultimately, did the Herb Zipper increase or decrease my prep time? Hard to tell. I can say that the process was more frustrating than if I had simply plucked the leaves from the stem and it definitely made the task no easier.
For the third and final round of testing, I boldly put non-woody herbs into the herb stripper. Reader, it did not work. Which is too bad. I was excited for my Cabbage Tabbouleh.
Chef'n does say that its Zipper works for more tender herbs like parsley and cilantro. But, they note that if the stems break, that you should try bunching the leaves up and pulling them through the largest hole. I tried this method with both mint and parsley and had significant difficulty with both herbs. When pushed through the various holes, the Zipper tended to break the stems without actually pulling off any of the leaves. In the end, I just got frustrated, and pulled off the herbs with my fingers.
So, is the herb zipper worth the $8? Ultimately, the tool is good for one very specific task: stripping woody herbs from their stems. If you use copious amounts of rosemary and thyme in your cooking, it could be worth it. In my experience, when used on rosemary, the stripper will definitely cut down on prep time. However, it's not of much use when it comes to tender herbs like cilantro or parsley. Because its use is so specific, I'd mostly recommend skipping it. Instead, opt for a good chef's knife and the best set of kitchen shears for de-stemming and chopping your herbs to perfection.
Our Favorite Kitchen Shears and Herb Scissors:
Our Favorite Chef's Knife
Originally Appeared on Epicurious