Ergonomic herb-snipping and food-shredding tools?
October 31, 2010 10:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for more ergonomic solutions to snipping herbs and shredding food in the kitchen. These are the two most painful kitchen tasks for me due to existing repetitive strain injuries.

I use ordinary kitchen shears to snip herbs but the pinching motion is a bit painful. One option would be to switch to my left hand which is less injured, but of course I have poorer control of it. It seems like there should be an easy-to-use specialized tool for this. Maybe these self-opening kitchen shears would be useful?

I can use my food processor for shredding but having to wash the whole thing after such a simple task can be annoying. Also, soft foods require some freezing before food processing which I usually lack the patience for. I found Easi-Grip Grater, which seems like it might be better than the usual hand grater, but it seemingly won't do coarse shredding.

Better options or alternative cooking strategies welcome.
posted by grouse to Food & Drink (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
For whatever it's worth, I usually pick up the kitchen scissors to snip up scallions, but the other day they were unavailable, so I just used the good ole knife and cutting board. It was no big deal at all. My perception was always that it's quicker and easier to use the scissors, but now I'm not so sure that's true.
posted by jclovebrew at 10:50 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe a mezzaluna?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 10:59 AM on October 31, 2010

You could get an herb mill to help with the former task. That one looks reasonably ergonomic.
posted by vorfeed at 11:01 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you try a mezzaluna, avoid the Henckels. It doesn't work well with herbs.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:04 AM on October 31, 2010

Seconding a herb mill, or some multibladed herb scissors will at least cut the amount of time you spend snipping.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:25 AM on October 31, 2010

Seconding mezzaluna for herbs, especially a two-bladed one. If you get one with a knob at either end (there's at least one on the Admiral's google results) it will be less strain on the wrist than a single handle that you simultaneously press and wiggle with one hand. My mum uses one happily, despite severe arthritis in her hands.
posted by lapsangsouchong at 11:29 AM on October 31, 2010

Whenever you get a bunch of fresh herbs, get together with some friends for an herb-snipping party (or if they're very good friends, bribe them to do all the snipping for you). Portion the snipped herbs into silicone ice cube tray, add just enough water to each section so that the herbs'll freeze into a congruent mass, cover the tray with plastic wrap, and stick it all in the freezer. Then whenever you need fresh herbs all you have to do is pop out a cube, no chopping or snipping required! They thaw quickly, and if you're tossing them into something hot, you don't have to thaw them at all.
posted by rhiannonstone at 11:36 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

I haven't tried this for cleaning a grater attachment, but sometimes you can clean a food processor by putting some soapy water in it and turning it on for a few seconds to agitate the soapy water.
posted by needs more cowbell at 11:43 AM on October 31, 2010

I love my Salad Shooter for shredding. Cleanup is a breeze; just put the attachments in the dishwasher after rinsing or clean them in the sink with a dish brush after use.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 12:04 PM on October 31, 2010

I've long relied on the Moulinex julienne grater as a non-electric food processor. The handle isn't hard to turn (and you could easily do so with your less-injured hand) and all the pieces go into the dishwasher. (A cursory googling suggests that they aren't made anymore, but they seem reasonably available on eBay and the like.)
posted by DrGail at 12:19 PM on October 31, 2010

The salesman and his sales tactic are cheesy, but the product (or one like it) works just fine for chopping herbs in my kitchen. (Warning: the video at that link starts automatically).

The "slap chopper" that I have, I found at a dollar store a few years ago. The housing cracked when I was a little too slap-happy with an onion, but it still works. Clean up just requires disassembling and rinsing it.
posted by LOLAttorney2009 at 12:27 PM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Why can you not just use a food processor to both snip and shred? If it seems like overkill for herbs, you can do them in large quantities and freeze them in single-use servings.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:55 PM on October 31, 2010

Response by poster: Will the solutions involving freezing affect the taste at all?
posted by grouse at 6:48 PM on October 31, 2010

It mainly changes the texture, but may affect the taste a bit, also. In my experience, frozen herbs are fine for cooking, and not so fine for using raw (i.e. if you're going to put frozen basil in spaghetti sauce, awesome; if you're going to put it in a fresh Vietnamese salad, not awesome.)
posted by vorfeed at 7:30 PM on October 31, 2010

Will the solutions involving freezing affect the taste at all?

In addition to changes in texture that change how the herb can be used, all kinds of odors float around in freezers, which can make their way into frozen food that isn't tightly sealed.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 9:33 PM on October 31, 2010

grousePoster: Will the solutions involving freezing affect the taste at all

As has been pointed out, frozen herbs are suitable for cooking (and actually very convenient!) I seal mine in Ziplocks for the freezer and have no odor issues. People who are better organised freeze them in ice cube trays and then bag the cubes. You just throw a cube into your stock, sauce, pan, etc as needed - it's very handy.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:22 PM on October 31, 2010

I'm happy with the taste of my frozen herbs, but I wouldn't use them in a situation where I'd want the taste and texture of a fresh leaf. Frex, I wouldn't use the thawed frozen basil on a caprese salad, but I'd happily toss it into a sauce, a bowl of pasta, or even a vinaigrette for a salad.
posted by rhiannonstone at 6:25 PM on November 1, 2010

This item has been on my Amazon shopping list forever. Haven't tried it, but Oxo's great and it looks like it might be perfect for this problem if you're still looking for a solution!
posted by girlstyle at 8:46 PM on October 26, 2011

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