Dandello's Garden - Thyme
Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)
Thyme is a low-growing perennial reaching about 6 to 10 inches in height. The leaves are small, oval, gray-green in color, and very aromatic, growing on stiff, woody stems. The lavender colored flowers are borne in small clusters.
There are over 300 varieties but the one found in grocery stores is usually Thymus Vulgaris - common thyme. Experimenting with other varieties means growing them yourself. Many varieties are available at nurseries and by mail-order, including mother of thyme, lemon thyme, wooly thyme, lime thyme, to name only a few.
Partial Thyme Variety List
Thyme likes a light, sandy, well-drained, soil and full sun. Thyme is a light feeder and most herbs lose some of their scent and flavor if given too much fertilizer. Thyme is very hardy, however, upright specimens may need to be heavily mulched to over-winter well. Plants should be thinned to 8 to 12 inches apart and it is best to renew the plants every few years. Plants can be propagated by cuttings, divisions, or by direct seeding.
Thyme is an attractive edging plant or a spreading plant among and over rocks. Its small leaves and low growing habit make it great for the front of a garden bed or in a container.
Cut leafy tops and flower clusters when the first blossoms open. Like most herbs, flowering time is when the oil is concentrated in the leaves. The blooms are also edible, and are a favorite of many chefs who use blooming sprigs as a garnish.
Thyme is widely used as a seasoning and oil of thyme is used in medicines and perfumes. Thyme goes well in poultry stuffings, gumbos, bouillabaisse, clam chowder, and slow-cooking beef dishes.
The leaves usually need to stripped from the stalk to be used - just a sprig near the top and use two fingers to slide down the stem and remove the leaves. All but the newest growth is too tough to chew, so it's best to keep the stems out of most dishes. Leftover thyme stems can be used when grilling - lay them on a chicken breast or directly on the coals to add some flavored smoke.
Thyme is also a part of that famous triad, Bouquet Garni. Combine it with sprigs of parsley and bay for use in soups, stews and sauces.
Add fresh or dried thyme to salad dressings and marinades for extra flavor and kick.
1/4 cup mild flavored vegetable oil
1/2 cup rice vinegar or other mild vinegar.
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper (or to taste)
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon fresh
Combine all the ingredients.
Use to marinate chicken for several hours before cooking.