Read This Before Throwing Away Herb Stems

We've all been there in the kitchen, picking the tender leaves off a bunch of herbs and tossing out the stems without a second thought. But what if you could get just as much fresh flavor out of the stems as you could from the leaves? Turns out you can! 

According to Bon Appétit, the stems of herbs typically have the same flavor as the leaves, though it likely won't be quite as strong. This means that, by throwing out those stems, you're wasting a ton of potential flavor! So, the next time you pick up a bunch of basil, dill, cilantro, or parsley, keep the stems for one of the following functions.

The most basic way to use a bunch of soft herb stems is to add them to a stock, stew, or sauce (via Serious Eats). Basil stems are perfect for a tomato sauce or vegetable-heavy ratatouille, while chervil and tarragon stems will definitely upgrade your steak. Another option is to blend the stems to release their flavor and mellow their slightly tougher texture for use in pestos, salsas, or vinaigrettes. You can cover them with oil or vinegar to create flavorful infusions, or even try adding them to your homemade pickles (via Kitchn). However, don't stop here, as there are plenty more uses for these often-overlooked ingredients.

How to make the most out of tougher herb stems

Unlike the softer herbs, tougher, woodier stems such as those of rosemary and oregano aren't quite as easily used. That doesn't mean they're useless. According to Food52, these stems can "add beautiful flavor when used for smoking fish or meat." That is, as long as they're soaked before use to prevent them from flaming up! You can even stick them directly on the grill to create some herb-infused smoke (via Kitchn).

Another way to make the most out of the toughest stems like rosemary or thyme is to use them as skewers for grilling or broiling meat or vegetables. This will help impart some flavor to the skewered goods and will help reduce waste.

Finally, even if you're not planning on cooking with your herb stems any time soon, you still don't have to waste them. Stems will last better than leaves in the freezer, so you can keep them on ice (along with any leftover vegetable pieces) to have on hand for your next soup, stock, sauce, or salsa (via Serious Eats).