Herb Profile: Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is a major staple in any herb collection, as its flavor pairs well with most foods. It's leaves and flowers are aromatic and delicious. A perennial, low-growing mint family plant, it grows happily in the garden, in containers, or as a border plant.
Thyme's name comes from its famous constituent, thymol, which has been studied for its antiseptic, local anesthetic, anti-inflammatory, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Traditionally, thyme has been revered as a tonic for the respiratory and circulatory system. Considered warming and calming, thyme rejuvenates the senses and supports immune function.
Thyme likes to be stored like it likes its growing environment: dry and cool. Either place thyme in a water-proof, air-tight container in the fridge and use within 7 days, or simply hang to dry in a cool low-light low-humidity area. Make sure to take it down when crisp, and in a paper bag, rub the leaves off the stems with your fingers and jar or bag them up for later use.
Personally, we do not relish the time (or thyme, haha) it takes to de-stem fresh thyme. You can do it, and it's great for certain things like thyme-infused butter or spreads, but mostly if we're using fresh thyme we're putting the whole sprigs in with food while it's cooking and then removing before serving. Some examples would be: broth or soup, cooked grains or beans, sauces, or stuffed inside of poultry.
Thyme is easy to dry and easy to use when dried. Once crisp, the leaves simply roll off the stem, and you can add them easily into any recipe of your heart's desire. Thyme that you get locally and dry yourself will be far more aromatic and flavorful than any you've ever tried from the store!
The Gift of Healing Herbs by Robin Rose Bennett
The Rodale Encyclopida of Herbs
Asparagus to Zucchini by Fairshare Coalition
Produce: A fruit and vegetable lover's guide by Bruce Beck
Our own experience!