Fresh or dried, this method does the trick.
Giada De Laurentiis on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Paul Archuleta

Whether it's the fresh thyme on your windowsill or a sprig of dried oregano in the pantry, pulling teeny-tiny leaves off of the sprig can feel like an endless task. With that inconvenience in mind, the folks over at the Giadzy, Giada de Laurentiis' blog, tested out three methods of stripping the herbs from their stem—and Giada had a clear favorite.

The team tested the box grater method, pulling the spring through one of the holes to release the leaves; this hack resulted in lots of herb debris flying around, but it did work. They also tried tugging the sprig through the tines of a fork, which could work out in your favor when you're dealing with stems of different sizes—just slide the stem up or down to make sure the tines are the right distance apart to pull the leaves off. The Giadzy staff knocked this one down a point for also sending herbs flying around the kitchen, putting the fork tines down in a bowl could help you catch some of the escaping leaves.

The third method earned a 10/10 score from the Giadzy, plus high praise from Giada herself. They used a colander, stringing the stem from the inside of the bowl and pulling it out so all the leaves and tender stems landed in the colander. "Love it!," Giada cheered in the comments of Giadzy's post. "Colander is the cleanest method… IMO [in my opinion]."

Other readers chimed in to say that the idea of the colander catching your leaves for you is pretty dang appealing—just be sure to do this over a sheet of parchment paper or a cutting board so you don't lose the few herb bits that may fall out of the colander holes.

Don't worry about accidentally leaving in some of the tender stems (the ones that connect the leaves to the main sprig) when you strip your herbs. Per Carolyn Malcoun, EatingWell's senior food editor, those little guys are totally edible and sometimes hard to avoid. 

We're not usually big on kitchen "hacks" that just make you dirty another dish, and if you're already happy pulling your herbs through your fingers to pull off the leaves, there's probably no need to change your habits. For folks (like myself) who don't have much success with that method—or who need to strip lots of herbs at once—the colander method is convenient. And rinsing loose thyme off your colander sounds a heck of a lot more pleasant than cleaning up after dicing eggs or avocado with a cooling rack.

So the next time you make a recipe that calls for a fair amount of tiny herbs—like our Grilled Figs with Honeyed Goat Cheese & Thyme or Herb-Roasted Chicken with Potatoes, Olives & Feta—get out the colander and decide for yourself if this hack is a new favorite.