How to Cut Herbs for Use

Herbs & Spices
Cut Herbs For Use

Many people like to grow herbs to use them in their kitchen. There are many herbs you can successfully grow in your home. To make your herbs thrive and to use them in your kitchen it's important to give them adequate conditions and care.

One of the things to keep in mind is to know how to cut your herbs properly. Plucking leaves is a big "no-no". If you want your herbs to last for the whole season it's important to cut them in the adequate way and to avoid plucking.

How to Cut?

To make your herbs thrive and to make them beautiful, it's important to know how to cut them properly. Never pluck leaves off the herbs to use. In order to make the most of your home-grown herbs and to make them last the season, it's important to cut them in the right way.

Wait till your herb grows to about 6 to 8 inches in height, with healthy leaves. It is the best time to start harvesting and using leaves for your needs. Since you'll be using herbs for your own needs in your home, you don't really need to harvest much.

This is one of the first mistakes people make when it comes to harvesting. You don't really have to wait until the plant is fully grown for the season and harvesting. Take Basil, for example. It can actually get spindly if you don't trim it regularly. This is why it's important to trim it from time to time. It's best to trim up from the bottom. Their leaves grow in pairs directly across from each other. As soon as you have about 4 to 6 pairs it's ready to prune Basil. However, it's important to leave about two sets of leaves on the plant. This is why it's important to cut your plant immediately above the second set of leaves (counting from the bottom).

The Pruning Process

It's important to know that the pruning process stresses the plant. Once you prune it, certain defensive mechanisms take place because the plant "thinks" it's in danger. As a self-defense, it will form many new branches. This will give you a fuller and healthier plant. In case your herb (such as Basil) looks limp, it's important to wait until is perks back up before you prune.

Once the plant is about 6 to 8 inches high and in a healthy condition, with several levels of leaves, it's the best time to start pruning. This is when you can start using leaves for cooking and other things. Pruning will also help your herb grow bigger, fuller and healthier.

Once the herb reaches this size, take snippers and carefully cut off the first 1 or 2 leaf sections (from the top). Cut down the first set down to the second set. Don't pluck, cut! Make sure to snip it as close as possible to the set of leaves under the top set.

Why is this important? It's important because it will force all the water and nutrients to the stem and other leaves instead of wasting them. This is how you enable the plant to feed the healthy parts and continue to thrive. Usually, as soon as you snip a plant it will grow new branches. This is a good process you want to encourage with your plant.

You may use these cutting tips for other herbs and not just Basil. If you grow mint in your home, pay attention to one difference: it will grow fuller and healthier if you snip it from the bottom up.

The last thing you should keep in mind is to always cut your plants first thing in the morning, before the full sun. It's important because sun tends to dry the natural oils of the plant so they will retreat to the stem, so you will lose a lot of the flavor. For this reason, it's important to cut them while the natural oils with all the flavors are still intact: in the morning (before noon).

Photo credit: joeyz51

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