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Thyme - Growing And Uses Of The Herb, Thyme.

Updated on October 4, 2014

What Is Thyme? Thymus vulgaris, and other species can be used as a culinary herb or for medicinal uses.

Thyme is a well loved and incredibly versatile herb which, amongst other things is an essential part of a bouquet garni.

The herb thyme is undoubtedly one of the most useful culinary herbs.

Thyme can withstand long cooking without losing its highly perfumed flavor and so is particularly useful in casseroles and stews.

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Thyme is widely grown for its strong flavour and is best cultivated in a hot sunny location with well drained soil, it tolerates drought well.

Thyme is generally planted in the spring and afterwards grows as a perennial. Thyme can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or by dividing rooted sections of an existing plant.

The best way to grow thyme, if you have no existing plants, is to grow from seed, but this will take about a year. If you already have some thyme plants and want to increase your stock quickly then the best way to do it is by dividing the roots.

An easy way to start off if you don't already have any thyme plants is to purchase young plants from the nursery to go straight into your herb garden.

Thyme requires very little attention - water only in very dry conditions and feed sparingly. Thyme along with many other herbs is an excellent plant for growing in containers and requires no particular attention, just water to keep the compost moist, and feed with liquid plant food every two weeks from April to August.

After about three to four years the thyme will start to become woody and produce fewer leaves this is the time to deparate the plant by dividing its roots and then replanting.

Grow Your Own Herb Garden - There Is Everything You Need In This Cool Indoor Culinary Herb Garden Starter Kit To Grow Your Own Fresh Herbs

I love using fresh herbs when I'm cooking, the flavor and aroma are second to none.

Even if you don't have a garden there are lots of herbs which are easy to grow indoors, I started off with just a few pots on my windowsill and have progressed to keeping them in larger containers just on the patio.

Harvesting Thyme - You can harvest thyme throughout the year

Thyme may be harvested any time throughout the year. However, I find that its leaves have a better flavor when they are harvested in Summer.

Simply remove the sprigs, when you need them for cooking by snipping the stems at the point at which they are no longer tender, leaving 3-4 inches of foliage, as the plant may not recover if snipped too short.

The harvested thyme can then either be used fresh, frozen (place the clipping in a plastic sandwich bag), or dried for later.

Thymus Vulgaris

Common thyme is made up of 20-55% thymol which is an antiseptic and the main ingredient of Listerine mouthwash.

Drying Thyme

Dried thyme is good to use in cooking and keeps well if stored correctly.

The best time to cut thyme for drying is just before it flowers. This is when the leaves have the most oil, which is what gives herbs aroma and flavor. Look for buds or newly opened flowers as your clue for harvesting. But, if your thyme has already flowered, it can still be harvested and dried.

Cut the thyme when the leaves are dry, either late morning or early evening but not in the hot midday sun. Rinse each branch in cold water and dry with paper towels to remove all visible water.

Turn the thyme branches upside down and remove leaves along the upper stem. Lower leaves are not as pungent as the younger, top leaves nearest the buds and growing tips. Tie five or six stems of thyme together in a small bunch. For high moisture herbs, use smaller bunches.

Once the thyme has dried, rub the leaves off with your fingers and store the leaves in an airtight container in a cool and dark place for best results.

Are There Differnent Types Of Thyme?

Variegated lemon thyme. There are a number of different types of thyme, including:

English thyme -- the most common

Lemon thyme -- smells of lemons

Variegated lemon thyme -- with bi-colour leaves

Orange thyme -- an unusually low-growing, ground cover thyme that smells like orange

Creeping thyme -- the lowest-growing of the widely used thymes, good for walkways

Silver thyme -- white/cream variegate

Summer thyme -- unusually strong flavour

Caraway Thyme -- used both as a culinary herb and a groundcover, and has a very strong caraway scent

Woolly Thyme -- not a culinary herb, but is grown as a ground cover.

Culinary Uses Of Thyme - How to use the herb thyme in cooking

Thyme is such a lovely versatile herb that it can be used in numerous ways.

Thyme combines well with chicken, lamb, beef, rabbit and turkey and goes equally as well with vegetables, fish, cheese and eggs.

Thyme has an aromatic spiciness which enlivens heavy food so is great in hearty, robust dishes. It is also particularly good with fatty cuts of meat, where its clean taste balances the richness of the meat.

Try infusing sprigs of thyme in oil or wine and vinegar for use in salad dressings or marinades for meat and fish.

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Cooking With Thyme

Check out the use of thyme in these recipes

Oven Baked Mushroom Risotto With Thyme


25g/1oz dried mushrooms, such as porcini or a mixture of types

400ml/14fl oz boiling water

2 tbsp olive oil

1 small onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

salt and freshly ground black pepper

350g/12oz risotto rice, such as carnaroli or arborio

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped

750ml/1¼ pints hot vegetable

(or chicken) stock

125ml/4fl oz white wine

75g/3oz parmesan cheese, grated

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves


1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

2. Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl, add the boiling water to the bowl and leave to soak for ten minutes. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a medium sized ovenproof saucepan or casserole dish and cook the onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft and a little golden. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

3. Drain the excess liquid from the mushrooms into a clean bowl. Chop the mushrooms, and add them to the garlic and onions along with the rice, chopped thyme and mushroom-soaking liquid. Pour the stock and the wine into the pan and bring the mixture to the boil. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

4. Cover with the mixture with a lid and place it in the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the rice has just cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed.

5. Stir in 50g/2oz of the grated parmesan.

6. To serve, sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and thyme leaves.

Asparagus With Lemon Thyme Butter

4 asparagus spears per person

50g butter

1 small lemon

A few sprigs of fresh thyme, washed and leaves removed

Parmesan cheese

Fresh ground pepper

Remove the zest from the lemon. Gently melt the butter in a small pan and cook until starting to color. Add the thyme leaves and lemon zest, heat for a minute or two then add lemon juice to taste. Remove from the heat.

Wash the asparagus and remove the tough woody end of the stems. Place in a pan of simmering water and cook gently for about 5 minutes until tender.

Drain the asparagus and divide the servings putting on warm serving plates. Drizzle over the butter mixture and top with shavings of the parmesan cheese. Add a good twist of black pepper and serve immediately.

Herbs & Spices - Find out more about using Thyme in cooking in this fantastic book which covers the whole spectrum of herbs and spices for culinary use.

Herbs & Spices is an indispensable reference that shows how to prepare fresh and dried herbs, how to use herbs and spices in cooking, and details everything that other books on the subject leave out. Containing a unique collection of recipes, from herb and spice mixes to rubs, pastes, salsas, and marinades, these authentic formulas will encourage cooks to think creatively and experiment on their own. Grouped by aroma and taste, with step-by-step preparation techniques and beautiful full-color photography, this book describes 60 herbs and the benefits of using them fresh or dried, and focuses on 60 spices from around the world, with a look at the early spice trade and how cross-cultural fusion has impacted on contemporary cooking.

Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference
Herbs & Spices: The Cook's Reference

A 'must have' for herb and spice lovers this book will appeal to not only cooks, but also gardeners who want to grow their own herbs and spices, as tips on growing and harvesting are given.

This book is really well-organized with clear, helpful information and excellent photograpy which is very useful for herb/spice identification


Medicinal Uses Of Thyme

Before modern antibiotics, thyme was used to medicate bandages and has also been shown to be effective against the fungus that commonly infects toenails.

More Medicinal Uses Of Thyme

Thyme tea is said to be good for coughs

Because it is antiseptic, thyme boiled in water and cooled is reputed to be very effective against inflammation of the throat when gargled 3 times a day.

A tea made by infusing thyme in water is said to be good for coughs and bronchitis.

Thyme has been used for respiratory infections in the form of a tincture, tisane, salve, syrup or by steam inhalation.

Thyme has been said to be useful when boiled in water and cooled then dripped on infections and wounds.

Ginger And Thyme Tea - This herbal tea is said to help with coughs.

Ginger And Thyme Tea is simple to make, just take a few sprigs of thyme and some slices of ginger then infuse it in a mug of boiling water for 4 to 5 minutes.

Its Thyme To Leave Your Comments

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      Just starting to write a lens on lemon plants of all kinds. I've always love golden lemon thyme, makes a good herb for pathways (walk & crush, great aroma). Thanks, I totally enjoyed this lens.