Fresh thyme can usually found during the summer months, but dried thyme is available year round at most grocery stores. Dried thyme should be kept in an airtight container in a cool dry place for up to six months.
Fresh garden thyme is an herb that has thin grayish green leaves and a subtle lemon, yet minty aroma and taste. Thyme is used in a wide variety of cuisine, but is most closely associated with French cuisine.
It is often used in soups and sauces, with meat, poultry or fish. It is also a very important component of herbes de Provence and bouquet garni. Fresh thyme has the most flavor used whole, with the stem.
Thyme is included in seasoning blends for poultry and stuffing and also commonly used in fish sauces, chowders, and soups. It goes well with lamb and veal as well as in eggs and croquettes. Thyme if often paired with tomatoes.
Cultivation of Thyme
Site: Full sun and good drainage are important for flavor and good growth. It is well suited to the rock garden or the front of a border. In England, it is grown between paving stones so that when it is trodden on, its highly aromatic scent is intensified.
Propagation: Thyme can be propagated in a variety of ways - seed, root division and from cuttings. The best way if you have no existing plants is to grow from seed - this will however take about a year. The best way for speed is to grow from root division or purchasing existing potted plants. Cuttings are not really recommended.
Growing: Thymes are very large family of plants which have been employed in the preparation of Greek and Mediterranean cuisine for centuries. French Thyme, English Thyme, Caraway Thyme, German Thyme, and Lemon Thyme are a few of the most common varieties. The pungency depends on the variety chosen. Common thyme is the strongest, lemon thyme is less pungent with a citrus flavor which makes it an excellent ingredient for custards and caraway thyme has a unique pine - caraway aroma. Some creep along the ground and others grow in a 1 1/2 foot clump.
Harvesting: Leaves can be picked at any time of the year but they are best while the plant is in bloom. Thyme can be dried and it can be frozen also.
Culinary Uses: This herb is the traditionally paired with parsley for poultry stuffing. Chop the leaves very fine to extract the flavor for garlic and tomato dishes, stuffing and marinades. Whole stems can be added to soups and broth but remove them after cooking. Thyme also adds a great flavor to vinegar and suits food cooked slowing in wine, especially poultry, shellfish and game. Whole stems can be rubbed onto meat before roasting. It can also be added to fruit salads, hot vegetables and jams. Use sparingly depending on the variety that you grow.