Thyme – January Featured Ingredient and the first in this feature. It’s one of the most widely used herbs, both dried and fresh along with uses in rubs for meats and vegetables, salad dressings, marinades and sauces. Thyme – January featured Ingredient will have a stronger flavor like most dried herbs and fresh has a sweeter flavor. Use this ratio (click here) to determine how much to use fresh versus dried in your recipes; 2 teaspoons fresh is equivalent to 1/4 teaspoon dried, remembering 3 teaspoons equals = 1 Tablespoon.
This herb grows in Europe, the Mediterranean and in the United States and abundant year round. Thyme is a member of the mint family and a wonderful, aromatic fragrance, slightly sweet, earthy flavor. Small gray-green leaves adorn the stems. Many varieties exist “English thyme, Common or Garden thyme, French thyme, German thyme and Lemon thyme.”
English has red stems with an intense flavor, best used for culinary additions essential in chowder or roasted potatoes. German has a brown stem with tiny, rounded leaves but flavor equals English. Common or Garden tends to grow bushy and does not grow well in freezing temperatures. French originates from France and is the base of Herbs de Provence. Lemon has larger leaves with a lemony flavor. Both Common and Lemon work best with vegetables, pork, lamb, game, fish, and eggs and able to withstand longer cooking times.
This herb is available all year-long. In Spring, save money on buying packages in your supermarket by purchasing a potted plant from your garden center and try your hand at growing thyme for yourself. Plants grow best in a draft-free windowsill or create a herb garden.
When buying live plants, choose those with fresh looking leaves and healthy stems. Avoid those with dry, brown, moldy ones. When ready to use, I suggest a light rinse, lay on paper towel to dry and soak up excess water. Use the whole sprig or remove leaves from stem in the amount needed for your recipe. You can discard stem. Strip leaves from stems by holding stalk at the top. Run your thumb and forefinger from opposite hand along the stalk. Leaves will release as you go.
Wrap fresh-cut stems in damp paper towel, place in a bag with holes and store in refrigerator. Fresh will usually last at least 5 days with this method. Keep dried in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months.
Use Thyme to create dishes like stews, soups, stuffings, omelettes and marinades using thyme. It’s wonderful herb with many uses and possible health benefits. Try recipes I have posted like my French Onion Soup, Roasted Garlic Cream of Tomato Soup, or Mushroom and Spinach Stuffed Pork Tenderloin. Your pantry will thank you.
Do you have recipes containing this wonderfully fragrant and popular herb? Share your ideas…