Thyme is a herb used in many different cuisines to add flavor. It is great on its own and also works perfectly when you blend it with other spices and herbs.
It complements other herbs including rosemary, marjoram, and sage. I have never really come across anyone who is allergic to thyme. It is one of those herbs that is suitable for any kind of diet.
Fresh thyme has a herbal flavor with floral notes similar to that of rosemary and lavender.
There are several types of thyme in the market. Lemon thyme and common thyme are the ones mostly used in cooking. The two are just slightly different.
Lemon thyme has a distinct lemon aroma that common thyme does not have. Other types of thyme that you may come across is wild thyme, creeping thyme, elfin thyme, and woolly thyme.
These specific ones work best as rock garden fillers. I do not recommend using them as a culinary herb.
Thyme was originally grown in the Mediterranean. These days, people grow it all around the world. All in all, thyme was not just used for culinary purposes. Originally, Egyptians used thyme in embalming rituals because of its antiseptic properties.
Throughout history, natives used thyme to preserve various dishes because of its antibacterial properties and its fresh herbal flavor.
Fresh vs dried thyme
Fresh and dried thyme have many similar properties. However, if you want to use dried thyme in your dish, you need to rehydrate it before use.
You can use dried thyme in place of fresh thyme in your recipe. Substitute it in the ratio 3:1. For example, if a recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh thyme, use ⅓ a tablespoon of dried thyme.
This is because dried thyme has a sharper flavor compared to fresh thyme.
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Using fresh thyme
Thyme is a very fragrant herb. The best thing about thyme is that it is available all year round. You can buy it at the supermarket or at a farmers’ market near you.
So in what dishes do fresh thyme work perfectly? Thyme is a great addition to egg dishes. It pairs perfectly with tomatoes, cheese, and eggs. Make thyme one of your ingredients when making that delicious omelet or scrambled eggs.
Since thyme is a good addition to egg dishes, it complements poultry dishes too. You can use thyme for your poultry seasoning. Whether you use to season your poultry directly or in poultry stuffing, the results will be amazing.
You can use thyme in meat dishes as well. Personally, I like using it in lamb dishes because it brings out an amazing flavor that I just can’t seem to replicate with other herbs. The floral notes that thyme has elevated the flavor of the lamb.
If you are looking for something to add flavor to your tea, lentil, or cheeses, then you should definitely try using thyme. Thyme adds that herbal flavor with floral notes that is just irresistible, and super healthy too.
How to cook using fresh thyme
There are different ways to cook using fresh thyme. The first way to do it is to remove the leaves from the stem and sprinkle them into your dish. Alternatively, you can add the whole stem to your dish.
If a recipe calls for a sprig of thyme, you should add the whole stem to the dish.
Don’t be skeptical about adding a whole stem of thyme to your dish, the leaves will fall off the stem as the dish continues to cook and you can remove the stem of thyme before you serve your delicious meal.
If your recipe calls for fresh thyme, you should pluck the leaves from the stem before adding them to your dish.
The best way to do this is to use one hand to hold the top of the sprig and use the other hand to pull off the leaves. This way, the leaves will detach without using too much energy.
If the stem is very young and flexible thus making it difficult to pull the leaves from the stem, you can just chop up the whole sprig and add it to your dish.
Personally, I prefer adding thyme to your dish earlier on when you start cooking. This way, the thyme gets time to be infused into your dish and the flavors will be more pronounced.
How to maintain the flavor and aroma of thyme when cooking
I don’t know about you, but I always want to ensure that the flavor and aroma of thyme are intact when I am using it in my dish. Here are a few ticks and tricks that will maintain the wonderful flavor and aroma of thyme.
If you are cooking vegetables or seafood, add the thyme when you are sautéing. The thyme will add flavor to the dish without it being too overwhelming. The fresh thyme balances the flavors of seafood perfectly.
Making lentil soup? I have a tip that will ensure the aroma of your lentil soup is just perfect. Once your lentils are cooked, add fresh thyme to the lentils then immediately remove it from heat. Cover the lentils and let them rest until you are ready to serve. I promise, the amazing thyme flavor will be intact and everyone will love it.
If you are making a poultry dish, especially roasted chicken, try using thyme for your chicken rub. To make the poultry rub, you will just need to mix the thyme with a little bit of lemon juice.
Your roasted chicken will have the aroma and flavor of thyme once you are done cooking.
I like adding a little bit of thyme to my salads coz it gives the salad a certain flavor no salad dressing can achieve on its own. Additionally, it gives veggie salads a freshness that everyone will love.
With meat, I suggest you use thyme when making your marinade. This is because meat takes a long time to cook and using fresh thyme in your marinade will help lock in all the wonderful flavors that you want.
Fresh thyme is a great addition to pasta sauce. A little bit of fresh thyme will go a long way, so just add a little to your sauce for the most amazing aroma and flavor alike.
The dos and don’ts of thyme
- Add thyme early in the cooking process, except when making lentil soup
Unlike most herbs, thyme can withstand long cooking times. Adding thyme early in the cooking process gives it time to infuse its wonderful flavors into your dish. Don't add thyme when you are almost done cooking as you do with other herbs.
- Use thyme in the right dishes.
Thyme is amazing. Unfortunately, it does not blend well with every dish. Thyme works perfectly in stews and soups. You can use it in several other dishes including meat, pasta, and egg, among many other dishes.
If a recipe does not call for thyme, you probably shouldn’t use it. It may not add the flavor that your dish needs.
- Use the exact measurement of thyme that the recipe requires
The key to making a great meal is by using the right measurement of thyme. With fresh thyme, the rule of the thumb is that you use a sprig that is about 5 inches long.
This should be just the right amount for your dish. With dried thyme, the case is a bit different. The measurements are more specific, so make sure you use the amount that your recipe asks you to.
- Only store thyme when it is completely dry
If you store thyme when it is moist, the leaves will dry, turn black, and fall off in just a few days. It will also not have the same amazing flavor that it should have. Make sure your thyme is dry before you store it.
- Remove the stem of the thyme before serving your dish
As I mentioned earlier, there are specific recipes that call for a sprig of thyme. This is where you place the stem of the thyme to your dish without plucking off the leaves.
As soon as you are done cooking, remember to remove the sprig. Sprigs can be a choking hazard and we do not want any accidents when having our meals, right?
Health benefits of thyme
Thyme is an amazing addition to various dishes. Additionally, it has several health benefits. Here are a few of the health benefits that you should know.
- Thyme boosts your immunity
Among other essential nutrients, thyme contains vitamin C which plays a role in boosting our bodies’ immunity and fight off diseases.
- It lowers blood pressure
Scientific research has shown that substituting salt with thyme reduces the heart rate in patients with high blood pressure.
- It is a remedy for coughs
I am pretty sure you have heard of the thyme essential oil which is normally recommended to people with stubborn coughs. Have a bad cough? Try taking some thyme tea for immediate relief.
Thyme is an amazing herb. It is versatile and it also has several health benefits. Once you learn how to use thyme properly, you will enjoy every recipe that has thyme in it.