Welcome to the second installment of HOW TO HANDLE HERBS in which we discuss the myriad ways to use thyme. In cased you missed it, during the first installment we discussed the difference between parsley and cilantro.
Well it’s about time we got to thyme. Apologies for that terrible pun but thyme is perhaps the most fun herb to write about. Simon and Garfunkel surely thought so. It’s a delicious yet subtle herb that has been used since ancient times as medicine for infections and even as part of the embalming process by ancient Egyptians.
Thyme is one of my favorite herbs to cook with because it’s sturdy. Thyme can stand up to 350 degree ovens while roasting potatoes and does phenomenally as rub for pan-fried chicken. Thyme is the most herbaceous herb. To my palette, it is the herbiest herb. The flavor is both earthy and sweet. Thyme is from the mint family and has a distinctly lemon-like aroma. The thyme you’ll likely encounter at the grocery store or farmer’s market is the common garden variety, but other variations like lemon thyme with an intense lemon flavor are available.
Thyme is easily identified by its very tiny leaves. The short stalks are usually sold in small bundles and when fresh have a delightful green-grey color. Fresh thyme will last for about a week in the fridge but you can also preserve the stalks by hanging a few together with string for a week. Remove the leaves from the stalks and save in an air-tight jar for up to two months. This dried thyme is excellent on roasted potatoes and parsnips.
If you really want to experience the true flavor of thyme, have it in a drink! I make this refresher all-year round and often add a shot of gin or vodka if I’m celebrating.
Thyme & Lemon Cooler
You will need:
1 cup of water
1 teaspoon agave nectar
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 ice cubes
Optional: 1 oz vodka or gin
1. Remove leaves from one of the thyme sprigs and combine in a glass with the water, agave nectar and the juice from 1 whole lemon. Use a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon the crush the leaves. Strain the liquid over ice into a new glass and add thyme sprigs for garnish. Gently stir in the alcohol if using.
If you’re aching to use a fresh bushel of thyme leaves, try one of these recipes.