Thyme

Thyme is a perfect “blending” ingredient. When bundled with other herbs, it brings out the best in all of them.

Thyme is often referred to as a companion for other herbs such as parsley and summer savory. The bundled blend of parsley, bay leaf, and thyme used in soups and stews is called bouquet garni. Thyme also lends support to Herbes de Provence, which is a more extensive blend used in French cooking. Many Mediterranean dishes include this base herb.

It is a tiny-leafed plant in the mint family that is aromatic and has a surprisingly nice bite. Thyme retains more of its natural taste in dried form, but fresh is always better for flavoring foods.

History

Long before thyme became a flavoring ingredient, it was a symbol of courage for the Romans. Even earlier, however, the Egyptians used it to mummify the dead.

Varieties

There are many species and most have similar characteristics, but definite differences in aromas. The most familiar names include lemon, caraway, garden, French, and English.

Buying Tips

Even in peak summer months, it may be difficult to find fresh thyme. When available, purchase in quantity and either freeze or dry for later use.

It is an easy herb to grow in the garden or in containers. Place a potted plant on a sunny windowsill indoors.

Storage Tips

Keep dried thyme on a cool, dark shelf away from sunlight. It will be good up to a year.

Usage Tips

• To include in a marinade, remove and bruise leaves.

• Add to oils or wine vinegars.

• Unlike some herbs, thyme requires longer cooking to release the full burst of plant oils.

• Add thyme to chili mixes and jerk seasonings.

• 1/4 ounce = 1/8 cup

Substitution Tips

• Summer Savory
• Italian seasoning (a blend containing thyme)
Oregano
• Dried bouquet garni

 

Try one of our favorite thyme recipes:
Tomato Pepper Chops
Island Festival Pork Chops
Blackened Fish

 

Suggested Pairings

Beans, beef, cheese, cottage cheese, pork, poultry, soups, stews, vegetables, wild game

 

by BigOven editorial team
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