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I enjoy putting a bunch of mint leaves into my salads, but I'm lazy and I get bored tearing the leaves off the stems to put into my salad. I am tempted to take the entire bunch of mint and chop it up, stalks and all.

Can I get away with this shortcut? Is this a bad idea? Will the stems be too "woody" or bitter and mess up the taste or texture?

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You probably don't need to remove the stalks from the leaves, especially for young plants. However, the older and stronger the stalk becomes, the less appetizing it will be, in my opinion.

To rip the leaves off easily, especially with thicker/sturdier stalks, just start at the top of the stalk and firmly pinch it. Then, run your fingers down the stalk, while pulling the stalk in the opposite direction with your other hand. The leaves should usually come off with minimal resistance. Once you have only the leaves, you can discard the stalk.

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  • 7
    That works for me. Older mint stems get veeeeeery woody, you definitely wouldn't want to try and chew through them. – GdD Dec 9 '19 at 13:59
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It depends on your mint, and even the time of year. I grow mint in a pot in the garden, and the early growth of the year can be chopped (finely) stems and all for things like potato salad or falafel. At this point the leaves are small and you need quite a lot of them, and the stems are soft at least near the tips.

Later on, you might get away with including the stems in tea, where the mint is removed, but not in anything else. By then the leaves are big enough that you probably wouldn't want more than a couple and it's no real effort to strip them off the stems.

Supermarket mint tends towards the early growth, as it's grown quickly from seed and harvested when economical.

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