Home > Cooking with Herbs > Cooking with Thyme

Cooking with Thyme

By: Kate Bradbury - Updated: 3 Apr 2019 | comments*Discuss
 
Cooking With Thyme Using Fresh Thyme

Thyme is a native herb of the Mediterranean region but has naturalised well in the UK and will grow happily in a sunny position. Thyme has antiseptic properties and has been used in a number of medicinal ways over the years. The ancient Egyptians used thyme to help preserve mummies. Thyme is also said to aid the digestion of fats so it makes a good accompaniment to dishes that use a lot of butter or fat.

Thyme works well with meaty dishes and is especially good as an ingredient in stews and stocks. It may also be used as an ingredient in marinades for meats, tofu and vegetarian substitutes and some vegetables.

There are several varieties of thyme, including French and English thyme, and lemon thyme, which has a mild lemon flavour (if you are looking for a substitute for lemons, however, lemon balm has a much stronger lemon taste). English thyme has broad dark green leaves and a stronger flavour than lemon thyme.

Thyme has a strong, pungent flavour, which makes it an ideal herb to use as an accompaniment for meaty dishes. It is not advised that you use thyme to flavour fish dishes as the taste can overpower the fish. Even when cooking thyme with meat, you should only use one teaspoon at a time as too much flavouring can ruin a meal.

Cooking Ideas for Thyme

Try adding dried thyme to the tomato bases for pizzas, or add one teaspoon to meaty soups, casseroles and spaghetti bolognaise. Thyme may even be added to the dough when making bread, or very sparingly in biscuit recipes. For a delicious vegetable stock, mix a medley of roasted vegetables in boiling water with salt, pepper and garlic and 1-3 tsp thyme (depending on your taste – remember fresh thyme is less pungent than dried thyme). Simmer for half an hour, then strain and discard the vegetables and use the liquid as a base for soups, marinades or casseroles. You can also use the stock to make flavoursome gravy to serve with roast meat. Thyme is also a great flavouring for vegetarian and tofu dishes, and will lend much of its flavour to a marinade for tofu or seitan.

Harvesting Thyme

Thyme may be harvested throughout the year. However, its leaves taste best in June and July. Simply remove the sprigs using scissors or secateurs. Make sure you leave enough leaves on the plant so it has enough energy to re-grow. Wash the stems thoroughly and remove the woodiest parts of the stems before adding it fresh to your dish. Thyme may be dried; the drying process concentrates the flavour of thyme and therefore you should use less dried thyme in cooking than fresh thyme.

Thyme is a pungent-flavoured herb that works well with meaty dishes such as casseroles, soups and stocks. It also makes a fantastic ingredient to marinades, which can be used to flavour meat, vegetarian substitutes (such as tofu and seitan) and vegetables. Thyme may be used fresh or dried and its flavour becomes more concentrated when it is dried. It is best used sparingly as its flavour can quickly overpower a dish.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
[Add a Comment]
I have german thyme and want to dry and save. My plants when I harvested/pruned them I noticed that some of the stems and leaves are a reddish/purple color (Not Brown) is this a common color for this type of thyme and can I use those for drying also with the green leaves. What cannot be dryed and used for consumption? This is my 1st time with herbs.. help
Cindy - 3-Apr-19 @ 3:06 AM
Ann - Your Question:
We've all done it.Oops! Too much herb in the pot. Add liquid.water, stock, wine, vinegar or a combo. Maybe a pinch of sugar. If what I'm preparing has onion in it, I cut nearly paper thin slices of raw onion with my mandoline. This goes into a mug or glass measuring cup, along with some of the original liquid from the pot, and into the microwave. When added back, the onions are cooked so they blend right in and, after 10-15 minutes of cooking time, help with the excess thyme flavour. This may have to be repeated so don't taste it right away and expect immediate results. You might get lucky! Also adding butter can help "smooth" things.

Our Response:
Thanks for these great tips!
HerbExpert - 23-Mar-17 @ 12:20 PM
We've all done it...Oops! Too much herb in the pot. Add liquid...water, stock, wine, vinegar or a combo. Maybe a pinch of sugar. If what I'm preparing has onion in it, I cut nearly paper thin slices of raw onion with my mandoline. This goes into a mug or glass measuring cup, along with some of the original liquid from the pot, and into the microwave. When added back, the onions are cooked so they blend right in and, after 10-15 minutes of cooking time, help with the excess thyme flavour. This may have to be repeated so don't taste it right away and expect immediate results. You might get lucky! Also adding butter can help "smooth" things.
Ann - 22-Mar-17 @ 12:22 PM
@Y. There's not a great deal you can do to reduce the taste of thyme if you've added too much. You could try increasing the bulk of the stew by adding more veg/meat and liquid, that would dilute the flavour a little.
HerbExpert - 24-Mar-15 @ 2:41 PM
How do you reduce the taste of thyme in a stew if you have added too much?
Y - 21-Mar-15 @ 3:25 PM
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice...
Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Dee
    Re: Cooking with Calendula or Pot Marigold
    Someone gave me a large bag of these petals and I need to know of s way to use them in cooking Can you also make tea…
    2 April 2020
  • Riadigur
    Re: Growing Bay Leaves
    Hi I have a large bay tree in my garden and it has 3 significant side trunks about 10 inches in diameter. We were thinking of removing one and…
    29 February 2020
  • Riadigur
    Re: Growing Bay Leaves
    We have a large bay in our garden which has been there over 20 years. From the ground alongside the main trunk we have 2 side trunks about 8…
    26 February 2020
  • Anny0
    Re: Growing Rosemary
    My rosemarinus officinalis has been in bud since late January and this morning(4 Feb 2020) I noticed a fully formed flower. I live in Lincolnshire…
    4 February 2020
  • BrianChido
    Re: Cooking with Marjoram
    great article on the uses of Marjoram. I have been visiting Germany over the past few years and discovered that the herb is quite popular…
    2 October 2019
  • MN-CY
    Re: Growing Thyme
    Please can you tell me which variety of thyme has the smallest leaves ?
    31 July 2019
  • Harry
    Re: Growing Bay Leaves
    I have an 8ft / 2.5m high established bay tree in the garden. When I prune it should I keep some of the new leaf growth or older darker leaf…
    22 July 2019
  • 4waystoyummy
    Re: Cooking with Calendula or Pot Marigold
    yes, the photo shown is another type of marigold. I think it is important to investigate the true flower you wish to…
    17 July 2019
  • Pertwee
    Re: Cooking with Chives
    Can you and how do you use chives in Thai cooking please
    11 July 2019
  • sjpmorris
    Re: Growing Rosemary
    Long shot; we have a quite large rosemary plant that has no leaves or branches on the bottom foot of the "trunk", is there any way to bring them…
    18 June 2019