Ripping Basil

GNC

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Not sure how Fortean this is, but it was in the mag as a possible UL: does tearing basil leaves improve the flavour in the cooking? As opposed to just cutting them? Or neither? I've always ripped them, presumably because it releases the flavour, plus it's more convenient! Any thoughts from our resident chefs?
 

Min Bannister

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I have heard this too but I really don't know why that should be the case.

If I give basil to my budgies they bite it and then preen it into their feathers.
 

Tempest63

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If you cut basil the cut sections discolour...doesn’t look nice. If you tear, the colour remains unchanged.
Try it.
Edit: I got that off of a Carluccio or other Italian chef tv programme.
 

JamesWhitehead

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I had not heard this of basil but it was a traditional belief about lettuce - tear, don't cut.

Never understood it or followed it. Cutting lettuce certainly does not discolour it. :dunno:
 

Lord Lucan

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If you cut basil the cut sections discolour...doesn’t look nice. If you tear, the colour remains unchanged.
Try it.
Edit: I got that off of a Carluccio or other Italian chef tv programme.
This is absolutely true.
 

Spookdaddy

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Not sure how Fortean this is, but it was in the mag as a possible UL: does tearing basil leaves improve the flavour in the cooking? As opposed to just cutting them? Or neither? I've always ripped them, presumably because it releases the flavour, plus it's more convenient! Any thoughts from our resident chefs?
At first glance, that kind of makes sense to me.

Tearing any fibrous material will leave a ragged edge, both along the line of the tear and through the thickness of the material - which will create more surface area than a clean cut.

Also, the act of cutting requires compression, the edge of a blade pushing down the material on either side of the cut. The following is surmise, but I wonder if cutting actually forces cells at the edge of a cut downwards, effectively sealing part of the edge. (And obviously, with scissors, this act would be in two converging directions, with double the effect of using a knife.)

Now, all of that said - it could well be total bullshit - because I have a book on the science of cooking which suggests that delicate herbs like Basil should be very finely chopped, in order to break up as many of the oil glands in the leaves as possible.

So, maybe a matter of taste - quite literally. And one for a bit of experimentation.
 

EnolaGaia

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Now, all of that said - it could well be total bullshit - because I have a book on the science of cooking which suggests that delicate herbs like Basil should be very finely chopped, in order to break up as many of the oil glands in the leaves as possible.
So, maybe a matter of taste - quite literally. And one for a bit of experimentation.
I've seen both versions of the advice, and they are consistent only in terms of matching a recommendation to one or the other of two desired results. Ripping is preferable if you're concerned about appearance (i.e., avoiding bruising). Cutting / chopping is preferable if you're concerned about getting the maximum basil flavor infused, because this approach breaches more of the cells (which contain the flavorful compounds).
 

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I had not heard this of basil but it was a traditional belief about lettuce - tear, don't cut.

Never understood it or followed it. Cutting lettuce certainly does not discolour it. :dunno:
I always tear lettuce too, though not because it would be discoloured if I cut it, but because it's just easier than faffing about with a knife. Now I think of it, that may apply to the basil as well. Would it be a "labour" saving practice?
 

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I always tear lettuce too, though not because it would be discoloured if I cut it, but because it's just easier than faffing about with a knife. Now I think of it, that may apply to the basil as well. Would it be a "labour" saving practice?
We have a lettuce knife - plastic but serrated and quite sharp - because cut edges of lettuce go brown if it's sliced with a metal knife.
 

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We have a lettuce knife - plastic but serrated and quite sharp - because cut edges of lettuce go brown if it's sliced with a metal knife.
I have a tomato knife, but nothing so extravagant and decadent as a lettuce knife.
 

ChasFink

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I remember an episode of the old sitcom "Family Affair" where the butler (who despite his broader duties preferred to be called a gentleman's gentleman) said that he ripped the lettuce so it wouldn't get a metallic taste from the knife. The children then perplexed him by asking why it didn't get a metallic taste from the metal salad bowl.
 

JamesWhitehead

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Lettuce will oxidise when its left, not just on the cut - or broken - surfaces.

How long are you people expecting it to last?

A bit of a tangent. The milky sap of lettuces is said to be soporific. Related to poppies, or did I dream that? Any personal experience of how powerful that can be?

I have never noted much of an effect, if any. On the other hand, I am not much of a salad-botherer! :p
 

eburacum

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It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is "soporific."
I have never felt sleepy after eating lettuces; but then I am not a rabbit.
They certainly had a very soporific effect upon the Flopsy Bunnies!
Beatrix Potter.
 

eburacum

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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactucarium
Lactucarium is the milky fluid secreted by several species of lettuce, especially Lactuca virosa, usually from the base of the stems. It is known as lettuce opium because of its putative sedative and analgesic properties. It has also been reported to promote a mild sensation of euphoria.[1][2] Because it is a latex, lactucarium physically resembles opium, in that it is excreted as a white fluid and can be reduced to a thick smokable solid.

Smokable??
 

AnonyJoolz

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Milky sap of lettuces? What milky sap?
Cut the root of a head of lettuce, leave it a few minutes and you'll see lettuce latex (ie a white milky sap); I have a relative allergic to rubber latex & most other latexes. If she touches lettuce, her hands break out in a dermatitis rash, she gets a bit sick if it's eaten. Latex-like juices are also found in some cacti, almost all of the spurge family of plants (eg Christmas Poinsettias)

Similar compounds also set off fish allergies and to some fruits.
 
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