“ Thymus is a genus of about 350 species of aromatic perennial herbaceous plants and sub-shrubs to 40 cm tall, in the family Lamiaceae and native to Europe, North Africa and Asia. A number of species have different chemotypes. The stems tend to be narrow or even wiry; the leaves are evergreen in most species, arranged in opposite pairs, oval, entire, and small, 4-20 mm long. The flowers are in dense terminal heads, with an uneven calyx, with the upper lip three-lobed, and the lower cleft; the corolla is tubular, 4-10 mm long, and white, pink or purple. „
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Looking out on my snow covered garden as I write this hardly makes me think of spring, but it really is just around the corner! As the weather improves there are many jobs that need to be done in my garden including pruning my herbs. One of my favourite herbs is Thyme; a must have in my kitchen!
There are numerous varieties of thyme including the wild Thyme I love to see in Provence and lemon Thyme. I grow the common Varity known as Thymus Vulgaris. Thyme is really easy to grow and requires very little looking after. I bought my Thyme in pots from a local nursery but it can easily be grown from seed. Thyme does best in a sunny warm spot with well drained soil. It is a native of the Mediterranean where it grows well in hot sun and poor soil. It doesn't like to be overwaterd as this will cause the roots to rot. Planting is easy, just dig a hole and push the plant in! That's it! No compost or other fussing! Thyme is best planted in spring and is slow growing. It will grow from 6 to 10 inches in height and is quite a bushy herb. I prune my Thyme plants hard in the spring to [prevent them from becoming too woody. Thyme is a perennial herb.
Thyme can also be planted in pots and grown on a sunny kitchen widow sill or outside. If you are away for a few weeks this is one plant you won't have to ask a friend to water! The plant will produce tiny green leaves on a thin woody stem. In the summer Thyme produces small delicate flowers that can be pale lilac or white. The leaves are very aromatic and both the flowers and leaves are edible. Thyme can be harvested at any time of year and used fresh or it can be dried.
Its uses and benefits
Thyme has many uses in the kitchen and is also a powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. The ancient Egyptians used Thyme to embalm and the Greeks used it in their incense burnt in temples. The Romans believed bathing in Thyme would give them energy and courage and it was also used in their homes to freshen the air; certainly a lot better than the chemicals we rely on today! In the Middle Ages Thyme was used in the posies carried by the middle classes to ward off germs and bad smells. As we now know that Thyme contains Thymol an essential oil with antiseptic and antifungal properties, this was not such an odd idea!
Thyme is also rich in vitamins and minerals. Its leaves contain potassium, Iron and calcium. Potassium helps to control heart rate and blood pressure. The more I learn about plants, the more I realise just how beneficial they really are! The leaves also contain Vitamins B, A, K, C and folic acid. Fresh Thyme is by far superior to dried and you should aim to use bright green leaves as these are the freshest and will give the most health benefits. Dried Thyme is also good at repelling insects!
I like to cut my Thyme fresh from my garden as I need it. However it can be stored in the fridge. I do sometimes cut too much and then I simply wrap it in damp kitchen paper and place in a plastic bag before putting it in the fridge.
Not only is Thyme good for your health, but it also tastes amazing as far as I am concerned! It can be used in numerous dishes and goes especially well with roast chicken. Before I put the chicken into the oven I push a few sprigs of Thyme under the skin. I also like to put a few slices of fresh lemon over the chicken before covering with foil and roasting. Thyme is good with the roast potatoes too! Just remove the leaves from the stem and liberally sprinkle over the potatoes before roasting. Really does take the roast to a new level! Thyme is also excellent with roast lamb.
I use my slow cooker a lot and always add some Thyme. It keeps its flavour well during the long, slow cooking process and is not overpowering. Thyme can also be used with other herbs such as Rosemary and sage.
Thyme is especially good with roasted vegetables. I like to roast Mediterranean vegetables including tomato, aubergine, pepper and courgette in a little olive oil. As Thyme is a native of these parts it follows that it will be a good partnership and a few springs added to the roasting dish will add a wonderful flavour and scent.
I add Thyme to baked fish dishes, placing a few sprigs into a foil packet before baking in the oven. As you can see the uses are numerous! During the summer the flowers can be used in salads and drinks, although this is not something I have tried.
Overall I love this Herb! It is really easy to grow and needs little looking after. It is a real powerhouse of vitamins and minerals and I love its intense,aromatic flavour!
We don't add salt to our food in the Sandemp household, not when cooking or after just before eating. That doesn't mean we like our food bland, quite the opposite, we love food that is bursting with flavour, the more the better. To ensure that our food tastes wonderful, but doesn't contain heart-attack inducing salt, we use herbs, lots and lots of herbs, and to ensure we get the maximum flavour from those herbs, we grow them ourselves. One of our herb staples has to be thyme, in various forms, I have three different varieties of thyme growing in the garden, each has it's own distinct scent, taste and look, but all three are wonderful plants. There are literally hundreds of varieties of thyme available, from the vulgar (or common) thyme to the far more unusual pine thyme. What these different plants have in common is that they are generally fairly compact plants that spread to create ground cover, produce tiny flowers that are a favourite with bees and are hardy perennials that can survive even severe frosts. Thyme does like the sun though, does best in a sunny location with free-draining soil and is pretty tolerant of drought conditions.
Although thyme can be started from seed, when I tried this I had a poor success rate as I couldn't get the conditions quite right. So all three of my plants were adopted from the local garden centre as young plants in three inch pots. A quick tip here is that very often my local garden centre has exactly the same varieties of thyme labelled as herbs and alpines, with the alpines being twenty pence or so cheaper. When picking your thyme plants you should apply the same criteria as you would any other plant, so look for those specimens with the most luxuriant foliage and check that they are not completely pot-bound (you should be able to see some roots, but there shouldn't be a mat of roots outside the bottom of the pot).
Thyme can be grown either in the soil or in pots, I have one growing in a herb patch and two others in reusable herb bags. I've not found that they require particularly rich soil, in fact the one in the back garden is growing in a stony area with only a very shallow layer of soil and is doing better than fine. If growing in pots/bags then good drainage is essential, so add a layer of stones, broken pots or polystyrene to the bottom of the pot before adding the compost. The addition of sand, vermiculite or perlite can further aid drainage, but you must weigh up the fact that perlite is a non-renewable resource. Once you have decided where you will be growing the thyme it is simply a case of digging a hole a little larger than the original pot, turning the plant out, placing it in the hole and then compacting the soil around it. I've found that as with any plant, thyme does appreciate a good soaking to water-in and then regular watering until it is established, but after that point it really only needs watering after a few dry, hot days.
Once established thyme requires very little care (in my experience), it certainly doesn't require feeding and left to it's own devices it will slowly spread to cover any ground it can find. Because of the way it spreads and it's low water and nutrient needs, thyme is a fantastic plant for using in crevices in walls or in a rock garden. Just from the point of view as a decorative plant, thyme is certainly attractive, small pointed leaves tend to form along stalks and depending on the variety these leaves can range from light green through to a very deep green, or variegated green and yellow, or even silver. In late spring/early summer tiny purple, pink or even white flowers form at the tips of the leaf stems in prodigious amounts. Not only do these flowers look very pretty, but they are also a great favourite with bees and any vegetable/fruit gardener will tell you how important it is to attract those bees so they can pollinate the runner beans.
I do feel that as well as being great for culinary uses, thyme has it's place in any garden simply for it's looks and scent. It makes an excellent bedding plant and has the added attraction of giving out a lovely scent when brushed against. Once you have one established plant it is also easy to propagate more simply from taking cuttings or splitting roots. To take cuttings, I simply cut off a stem (younger growth), remove the lower leaves (these go in whatever I am cooking) and then stick the cut end in moist (not wet) compost to root. I generally find that roots start to form within a couple of weeks and the plants are ready to be passed on within a month. This is a wonderful way of sharing more unusual varieties with family and friends and unlike with seeds, you know that the babies will be identical to the parents. Not only this, but you can literally produce hundreds of plants from one and many, many of my thyme plants have found their way onto stalls at fairs and fêtes.
Thyme has had many uses over the centuries, including being used by the Egyptians for embalming, burnt as incense and as an antiseptic (it is still used now in some hand sanitisers) but I only put it to a couple of uses. The first of these is that I will often add it to a barbecue to add flavour as I grill. This is just a case of place a handful on the glowing coals and it adds a certain something to such foods as pork chops. The other use is of course in my cooking and how I use it (and which variety) does depend greatly on what I'm cooking.
If I'm adding thyme to a stew then I will cut several stems and then tie them in a bunch to add to the pot. This makes them easier to remove after cooking, and I really would recommend removing the stalks as they are rather chewy and not pleasant to eat. With food that cooks much quicker, I will strip the leaves from the stalks and then bruise them before adding them to the sauce or marinade. I've also made a thyme butter on more than one occasion and this is a yummy way of adding flavour to foods that are grilled or cooked en papiotte (in paper). To make the butter, you need a good handful of thyme leaves, which I would bruise, these are then added to and thoroughly mixed into softened butter. The butter is then rolled into a sausage, using cling film to hold it in place and chilled in the fridge overnight. When you're ready to use the butter, you simply need to cut off a slice and as it melts it will infuse the meat with a subtle thyme flavour.
With there being so many different varieties of thyme available, there are so many different combinations you can try. Common thyme is of course fantastic with almost any meat and a staple when cooking stews, but have you ever tried chicken infused with pine scented thyme. Although it seems a strange combination, it's actually really nice, with a delicate and unusual flavour. Lemon thyme is also wonderful with chicken, but it's even better when made into a butter and then cooked with white fish. As well as being great with savoury foods, thyme can also be used in deserts, it can be added to biscuits or even ice cream. Both lemon and honey are the perfect partners to thyme and there are some gorgeous recipes out there using thyme to add an earthy undertone to sweet foods.
If I haven't already convinced you that one (or more) thyme plants deserve a place in your garden, or on your balcony, or on your patio, then I will simply add that thyme was one of the first plants I placed in my garden and is a beautiful, useful addition that I simply couldn't do without. There are so many varieties that the only difficulty is that as I add to my collection I will soon run out of space. So whether you are simply looking for a plant that will add flavour to your stews, or will look decorative in your garden or a plant that will attract the bees needed to pollinate your fruit and vegetables, then believe me thyme is for you.
Recently I have done a few reviews on some of the herbs that we have growing in our garden, that even I, who am not green fingered at all, have managed to have a part in, both in the upkeep and the cooking. As well as growing chives and mint, another herb that we have every year is thyme, and part of the reason I particulary love this herb is that when the fresh herb itself is finished, you can dry it out and it will keep you with a supply of thyme the rest of the year.
Like other herbs, there are several varieties to choose from including orange thyme, lemon thyme as well as the common or garden thyme, which is what we grow. This is a popular variety to grow mainly because it is used so much in cooking. The leaves are like needles, with a pinky/purpley flowers at the top particularly in the early summer months, however you do not eat the flowers on this particular herbs, although the bees are certainly attracted to them.
Thyme can be planted in both the ground and in pots, and it is the latter in which we grow it. Within the pot, it is important to make sure there is sufficient drainage, and therefore you need to put in some small stones or bits of broken tiles, before filling the pot or tub with potting compost.
Thyme is classified as a 'hardy perennials' meaning it will come again every year, however if there is a chance of a harsh winter, like last year, it is best to store this plant away in a greenhouse or polytunnel. Although this plant will come again each year, it is best to replace a plant every three years, by taking cuttings between the summer months and into early Autumn, as they can get quite woody at the bottom.
This particular herb does not require a lot of watering, except in very dry spells of weather or when it is first being planted, after that it is not necessary to water this herb, nor is it necessary to feed it, although my husband has given it some feed on occasions.
Last year was the first year that we decided to have a go at drying out the herb. Most of the fresh herb was used in cooking, and I particular like it over roasted pototoes and vegetables, but the extra we brought in to dry out, which was a fairly easy process, and worked very well, keeping the fragranct scent. To dry out the thyme, all you need to do is to 'dip' the stem into boiling water for a second and then straight into cold water to preserve. If possible, you should then hang these upside down, however, we had no facility to do so, and simply had to lay the thyme out on baking trays in an airy place, which was away from sunlight. When the herb had completely dried, it was only a matter of stripping off the leaves and then storing them in a jar. We were very impressed at how well this herb dried out, and will certainly be doing it again this year.
Again, like some of the other herbs I have reviewed, it potted up properly with good drainage, then this is a very easy herb to grow. If you are prepared to spend an afternoon drying it out, you will be able, like us, to enjoy your own home grown thyme all year round, with very little hassle.
A kitchen garden favourite, thyme is easy to grow, maintain and has a place in a variety of recipes, with some mecidinal properties thrown in for good measure. In this review, I swear on the dooyoo oath that there will be no play on words/puns/or bad jokes using the herb's similarity to another word - I just simply haven't got the thyme for it. (oops!)
I'll try to break down the review into sections, each containing some hopefuly useful facts about thyme.
If starting indoors, I've managed to grow thyme from seed all year round on my kitchen windowsill. For outdoor seed planting, a few different sources I've consulted (seed packets, various books) suggest springtime (March onwards or April if, like me, you live in the frozen north).
Thyme plants which were started indoors can handle being planted also around spring, and once established are hardy perennials.
CARING FOR THYME
Thyme will tolerate both full sun and partial shade. For a gold standard of protection, I'd recommend adding some grit or gravel as a mulch around established plants to protect from wet winters. Other than that, most types of thyme (in my experience) are quite happily left lone to creep or form low woody bushes, depending on the type of thyme you have. Also, as with quite a few types of herbs, thyme doesn't seem to mind being picked on a fairly regularly basis during the growing season - just ease off in winter when growth almost stops.
USING THYME - GENERAL
Thyme can be used freshly picked, or after being picked, hung up to dry then stored in airtight tubs for later use. My attempts at drying thyme have been successful in the sense that it will preserve and keep quite well when processed in this manner, but I am yet to dry thyme (or a number of other herbs) without drastically losing the colour of the leaf. The thyme which I dry and store seems to be a lot darker than shop bought dried thyme. I'd be grateful for any preserving tips.....
USING THYME - OTHER THAN FOR EATING
Thyme is thought to be a useful companion plant for more tender crops which are prone to attack from whitefly and caterpillars. Also, thyme is well known to grandmothers and members of the Ray Mears Fan Club as having antiseptic properties. Thyme can also be added to pot pourri.
USING THYME - CULLINARY
Thyme is one of the components of a bouqet garni - that fragrant teabag-resembling essential ingredient of many soups and stews, the herb also works well with apples - try it!
Overall, thyme is an easy plant to grow, doesn't have much in the way of special care requirements and will tolerate both neglect and harvesting pretty well. Also, legend has it that if you take a needle and thread and sew a pattern into one leaf of a thyme plant, then upto ten thyme plants elswhere in the world will survive global warming - a stitch in thyme saves nine! Groan.....
Thanks for reading.
I love thyme leaves. I use them frequently in almost all my cooking. Hence, I thought I will glorify thyme by writing a review about the wonderful herb.
Thyme, also known as Thyme Vulgaris have been used as a cullinary herb and for medicinal purpose.
Thyme can be cultivated easily in hot sunny location with well drained soil. This is a perennial plant and it can be propagated by seed, cuttings or by dividing root sections of the plant. Thyme is an essential plant in scented gardens.
Thyme is widely used in cooking such as stews, flavouring meat, salad and soup. The flavour of thyme is not overpowering and yet it provide a nice aroma to the dish. Thyme is known to be rich in iron and contains a variety of flavonoids that increases its antioxidant capacity.
My research have shown that thyme is known to be rich in iron and it contains a variety of flavonoids that increases its antioxidant capacity. Thyme have also been used as a medicine remedy for chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis and chest congestion. An infusion of thyme tea is known to help ease cough, treat intestinal problem and as a mouthwash to treat sore throat. I have tried it myself after reading about this in the internet. It did help to relieve the tightening feeling of the sore throat.
The common thyme are lemon thyme, creeping thyme and English thyme.
Thyme is a widely used culinary herb and perhaps its most common use in UK is to flavour lamb. It is used all over Europe to make aromatic and flavoursome dishes but a personal favourite of mine is Cypriot kleftiko which a highly aromatic lamb dish.
It is grow in gardens as a decorative and aromatic plant as well as a culinary herb. Easy to grow but don't let it get too wet. Use it to flavour salads, breads, fruits, sauces and meats, or just delight in the fragrance. Thyme is used to flavour Benedictine liquer,
Thyme, in folklore, was used to add to wedding bouquets with roses, to indicate fidelity and virginity. Hence the song, 'Once She Had A Bunch of Thyme'.
The plant itself is an evergreen sgrub of the mint family and has woody stems with grey-green to green leaves and small pale pink or purple flowers. If you leave your plant long enough without cutting too many sprigs from it, you will see it produce fruit. These are in the form of tiny nutlets.
There are over a hundred varieties of thyme with the most common being garden thyme and lemon thyme. The lemon variety looks very similar to the garden one but has a stronger lemon aroma. It is excellent with fish.
Bees are attract to thyme flowers but the plant itself is a great insect repellant. Cut some sprigs of thyme and make a tea with it. (Steep it well). Put it into a garden spray mister and use to spray around doorways and windows. Insects don't like it.
Thyme for Tea!
I love my herb garden originally a square plot of ground in the vegetable patch, and now moved to pots and tubs in a sunny corner of the garden to make space for courgettes and lettuce it gives me great pleasure watching the bees go daft for the scented rosemary and thyme flowers, and it makes the taste of my culinary delights so much better! My herb collection at the moment consists of about 3 small potted rosemary plants which I grew from cuttings (I have a monster Rosemary by the sitting room window which just gets bigger and bushier every year!), a pineapple mint, a pot of St Johns Wort, a pot of chives, a tub of lemon balm, a small red clay pot overflowing with lemon scented, tiny leaved, variegated thyme, and a tall ceramic tomato pot full of flat leaved thyme. Thyme is one of my favourite herbs to cook with, and also to smell if makes me think of sunny Sundays and when I see it in bloom, with bees hovering round the lilac coloured flowers, it makes me feel like Im doing something really positive for the local bee population they just love it!
Thyme comes in many different variations, from the low growing, tiny leaved varieties which fill cracks in paving stones beautifully, to the bigger, bolder, larger leaved varieties which are easier, in my opinion, to harvest and use.
I have a brick circle made from reclaimed bricks (my next door neighbour didnt want them and passed them over the fence to me!) which is interspersed with a variegated spreading thyme I hope that by next summer all the spaces between the bricks will be filled with cushions of green and yellow and purple flowers loveliness! A lovely place to sit in the evening sunshine, with the smell of crushed thyme underfoot and the late working bees humming over the flowers.
When it comes to cooking, its the larger leafed variety I use. Added to soups and stews, it imparts a wonderful aroma, and flavours the food really well I particularly like to use it with chicken, whether roasted for Sunday lunch or in a casserole or even just sprinkled over chicken breasts before adding them to the pan. When I make butternut squash soup I always add a good pinch of dried thyme, or a handful of finely chopped fresh thyme, and it just brings the sweet warm flavour out of the squash like nothing else I know!
Growing Thyme is exceptionally easy in my opinion, as long as you dont overwhelm the plant with too much attention. Thyme likes to be in well drained soil, and doesnt like to have its feet in water, so add sand or small stones to the area where youre planting to keep the drainage good. It loves sunshine, and will thrive in a sunny position, but make sure its not placed in a frost pocket, or you may loose it over winter. One good tip for growing thyme is to keep trimming it regularly, making sure, like with rosemary and lavender, that you dont cut into woody stems, as the plant finds it hard to produce new green shoots from these.
I find that it you have a house wall that gets a lot of sunshine, this is a good place to plant, or, as I have done, use the plant in cracks in your paving for prettiness, and for keeping weeds at bay. When the sun falls on the bricks or the wall, the heat stays there a lot longer than it does in the soil, and so the plant steals warmth from this source, and is more productive because of it.
Thyme is easy to propagate, and from one shop bought plant you can actually get many more I bought a pot of low growing thyme from B&Q, took it home and divided the roots up. I ended up with 15 small plants, which I planted out in the brick circle and which are now, 2 months later, very well established. Next year Ill dig them up and divide them a bit more! Plants for free is what I like! I have never grown thyme from seed, but it is very easy to do, again as long as you keep the conditions right. Im not great at growing things from seed as I loose patience and end up killing the lot, but there are plenty of great websites and garden centres where you can buy seeds to grow at home. Its not a plant that self seeds readily, but likewise wont take over your garden in the way that mint, for example will.
Whether you grow Thyme for cooking, for looking at, for groundcover or for adding to your bath to soothe tired and aching muscles, its certainly a herb worth growing that will earn its keep in your garden and keep on doing so long after youve forgotten where you got it from in the first place!
Thank you for reading, Kate x
Thyme is one of the best known herds there is, but not only is it a pretty flowering herb to have in your garden, it is also good for lots of ailments.
Thyme is a perrenial plant which means it grows all the year round and doubles in size every year.
There are lots of different types of thyme you can grow and buy from the health shops.
I prefer to grow my own then I can nip outside and cut a bit off the plant for medicine or cooking with.
There are so many different types of thyme to choose from.
and many more.
When you rub a thyme plant you can instantly smell the strong aroma of the plant, it's a sort of earthy antisceptic smell.
This makes it great for cooking with as it adds flavour to lots of dishes.
It can be used for Stews, Casseroles Soups and Scattered over roasted vegetables.
My favorite recipe is Creole Jambalaya
30g (1oz) butter or marg
1 large chicken breast, cubed.
200g (7oz) shopped ham
1 onion chopped
2 sticks of celery sliced small
1 diced green pepper
2 chopped spring onions
3 chopped cloves of garlic
1 and a half teaspoons of thyme
1 and a half teaspoons of oregano
1 teaspoon of sage
4 teaspoons of parsley
3 tomatoes skinned and chopped
1 pint of chicken stock or chicken oxo cube
half a teaspoon of black pepper
200g (7oz) of long grain rice
20 tiger prawns cooked and peeled.
Heat the butter in a large pan and add the chicken to cook slowly for about six minutes.
Then add the onion, celeryand green pepper, let it cook until it starts to brown then add all the herbs.
Cook for 5 minutes then add the tomatoes and stock, season and let the liquid come to the boil. Then add the rice.
Simmer it for 20 to 30 minutes, then add the prawns, simmer for another 10 to 12 minutes, stirring often.
You can also make an ointment with the thyme by melting down some vascoline and adding a strong infusion of the strained herb. Let it set again and it's ready to use on swellings, warts and sciatica.
Thyme is good for headaches, dizziness and flatulence. It can also be combined with other herbs to ease a bad cough.
My hubbie makes an infusion of thyme and nettles which he makes from the freshly picked leaves of both plants.
This infusion is then left to stand for twenty minutes and then he boils it down with honey to make a sticky toffee, which the kids love and so makes it easier to get them to take the medicine.
One teaspoon of this soft toffee mixture taken twice a day will shift any stubborn cough.
You notice the differerence after two days.
I love this herb it is so versatile and so good for you.
Thyme is an aromatic, perennial, many branched ground shrub that will grow to about 12" It has small almost stalkless leaves and in mid-summer it will develop very attractive lilac or pink flowers. Once established in in a well drained garden it requires very little care, an so is suitable for people (like me) how are not the most attentive to the needs of the plants in their care. Established plants will become woody after a number of years, but this can be avoided by dividing the roots from time to time. The plant is hardy enough to survive light frosts, but will die off if the temperature drops below 10 degrees F. Thyme is easily propagated either via seeds, cuttings or by root divisions. Thyme is not only therefore a very easy plant to grow in your garden, it also has many uses.
The Romans always knew a good thing when they saw it and it was grown by them for use as a cough remedy, as a digestive aid and for intestinal worms. For the same reason Charlemagne ordered the plant to be grown in his imperial palaces, but also recognised its uses in cooking chiefly for its meat preserving qualities. By medieval times it was widely known for its anticeptic qualities and by the 17th centuary thyme oil, under the name of Oil of Origanum, was freely available from apothecary shops. In the medieval period it was also associated with courage and knights would embroider it on their clothes as an emblem. Scottish highlanders would make a drink using Thyme to instill the courageous virtue in them and Wild Thyme is the emblem of the Drummond Clan.
Its use today by those who have an interest in nature remedies lies in four main areas.
1. Antiseptic. Freshly picked thyme is a fantastic natural antiseptic for those garden cuts and scrapes and as an oil is proven to fight disease causing fungus and bacteria. Dried Thyme is never quite as effective as an oil tincture or infusion. Thyme is a major ingrediant in many mouth washes, including Listerine.
2. Digestive Aid. Thymol and Carvacol, found within the plant are shown to relax the muscle tissue of the gastrointestinal tract. This acts as an anti-spasmodic backing up Thymes traditional use as a digestion aid.
3. Womens Health. Not only do the Anti-spasmodic characteristics aid digestion, they also help relieve menstual cramps. A word of warning however, Thyme should be avoided in large doses whilst pregnant, a rule of thum that should be applied to most natural medical practices. In this instance it should be taken as a light culninary spice, the stronger oil preperation should be avoided.
4.Cough Remedy. "thyme is to the Trachea (windpipe) and the bronchi what peppermint is to the stomach and intestines" so wrote Rudolph Weiss. This is to say that as a soothing remedy for cough disorders, this plant is second to none.
The main warning is regarding the use of Thyme in its oil prepared form. In this form it is fairly powerful and should be used sparingly, and probably only after consulting a doctor or practicioner. The fresh or dried herb, however will cause no problems in its use and is best gathered whilst in flower.
On to the more mystical elements associated with the plant. Folk Lore suggests:
Wear a sprig or throw onto a fire to attract good health.
Place a sprig beneath the pilow to keep away night mares.
Women should wear it in their hair to become irresistable.
Thyme will attract fairies.
Wear Thyme to ward off negativity.
The preparations for Thyme are very simple, but do heed the warnings above. Tea is made by infusing 1oz of dried herb in boiling water for ten minutes. The oil is made by filling a jar with dried Thyme and topping up with Sunflower Oil, leave in a sunny place for two weeks and strain into a clean jar.
For those interested in natural remedies and herblore, Thyme is a good place to start, as it is easy to prepare, has a range of uses and is a very low maintainace garden plant.
Thyme used to be grown in monastery gardens in the south of France, Spain and Italy around the Middle ages for the use as a digestive aid, cough remedy and a treatment for intestinal parasites (no, not Alien3!). But poor old thyme, it’s sometimes seen as the ugly duckling of the herb world. It doesn’t have the extravagant display of blossoms that sage does, nor does it have a distinctive taste like tarragon. But it IS an invaluable element in the kitchen; it blends itself so nicely and enhances many other herbs without overpowering them. Of course, everyone knows the ingredients of ‘bouquet garni’ (sprigs of parsley, leaves of bay and thyme for those who didn’t). It can be added to give depth to soups, sauces and my favourite – stews. There are over 100 varieties of thyme, but three are used more often in the kitchen. Lemon thyme is an upright shrub that can grow to a foot in height, the leaves are tiny and heart shaped ringed with a little yellow and has a bit of a citrus tang. Caraway thyme is a low growing variety which forms a dense, dark green mat and can spread quickly, but is a pretty version with it’s soft, pink blossoms, although it’s difficult to find it’s especially tasty in sauces with garlic and wine. Then we have the common/garden thyme, a shrub that can grow between 6-12 inches, with its narrow, pale grey/green leaves, hairy stems and its pungent or ‘woody’ smell. You can start thyme off from seeds to get a wider selection, but try the three above first. The plant prefers a sandy, dry soil with plenty of sun, but by mulching heavily it should keep the roots nice and warm. Once established, you only need to remove dead flowers and prune the old wood out. Harvesting thyme is just as easy, but the flavour is best just before flowering, try not to take too much during it’s first year though, it comes as a shock to the root bowl. Thymol
or the oil of thyme, is the most active ingredient and it’s used in Listerine mouthwash and Vicks Vaporub because of its antibacterial and anti-fungal attributes. It has also been suggested that it has a healing effect on the lungs. Inhaling the oil over a bowl helps loosen phlegm (yes, I got that word into an op!) and relaxes the muscles to help you breath easier. It can also be rubbed on warts, something I’ve never tried and you can take it as a tea, but in my opinion it tastes flaming horrible, I’ll stick with my Assam thank you very much! Investigating this herb I read that it has anti-aging properties, so it might be worth trying out. Watch out though, apparently, excessive internal use of garden thyme can lead to symptoms of poisoning and over stimulation of the thyroid gland (and we don’t want that, do we?) I personally use it in stews and in vinegar, I buy a bottle of Sarsons, pour away about quarter and pop some sprigs inside the bottle, over chips it’s lovely.
Thyme is, in my opinion, one of the most useful of herbs and a very versatile garden plant as well. I would argue in fact that this herb is, if not itself the king of herbs, certainly a member of the royal family. In the Garden ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Common thyme, thymus vulgaris, is a perennial herb with a woody stem which grows quickly into a small shrub about 45cm. While there is nothing wrong at all with the common thyme there are over 300 other species many of which are more decorative. The species of thymes come in many different colours from white and pale pink through to deep purple. When I had my front garden as a herb garden I grew about 10 different varieties of creeping thymes planted in gravel near to the pavement because it looked good and would give passers by the scent. These thymes flowered at different times throughout the summer and very soon formed a beautiful, jewel coloured, aromatic carpet which constantly hummed with bees. Now they, or their offspring, grow here there and everywhere on the patio in the back garden. Given the well-drained positions that Mediterranean herbs so love thyme will grow quickly and spread easily. They are also very easy to propagate using ‘heel’ cuttings in a sandy soil mix. So unless you want an instant garden buying the smallest plants will be the most economical choice. Most garden centres stock common thyme but it is worth seeking out other varieties or finding your nearest specialist garden centre to see what other varieties are available. My personal favourites include T. vulgaris ‘Silver Posy’ which has white edged leaves and creeping thymes T. serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’, ‘Lanuginosis’, ‘Albus’, ‘Coccineus’, and ‘Aureum’. Thyme is of course one of the best bee plants and it also attracts butterflies. If you have ever been to Greece you may be familiar with thyme honey, which is supposed
to be the very best honey available, and herbalists frequently use it to sweeten herb teas. In the Kitchen ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ As a culinary herb thyme is very versatile and goes into many dishes. It is an essential ingredient in bouquet garni, which consists of a sprig each of thyme, parsley and bay leaf tied together with string, and here I do think fresh has an edge on dried. There are several lemon scented thymes which are especially good with fish. Try a sprig with a salmon steak wrapped in foil and baked. Another favourite of mine is thyme with peas, onions and bacon. Brown some small onions in oil or poultry fat, add chopped streaky bacon until the fat flows. Mix together with some frozen peas and a few sprigs of thyme, add a little stock or water and cook in the oven for about 30 mins. Medicinal use of Thyme ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ Medicinally thyme has many properties but perhaps above all it is strongly antiseptic. I have used this herb to alleviate a sore throat and the same infusion can be used to bathe wounds and as a mouthwash for mouth ulcers or toothache. In fact, I have just drunk a cup of warm thyme tea and swished it round my mouth to ease a slight toothache, which is what reminded me to write this. I fear I will still have to go to the dentist eventually though Thyme oil is, of course, the basis of ‘thymol’ which is frequently found in toothpastes and mouthwashes. An infusion is made in the same way as making tea. You can use dried or fresh thyme; using either one teaspoon of dried or two teaspoons of fresh thyme to a cup of water. Make it as you would ordinary tea but leave for about 10 minutes before straining. Why not try it for yourself and see just how effective it is. Thyme has many other medicinal uses but if you are interested it is best to consult a proper herbal. However, I have heard that thyme tea at bedtime, made as above but po
ssible sweetened with honey, has proved effective in stopping older children from bedwetting. All in all thyme is a plant that no garden should be without.
If you make your own stuffing for either chicken or pork then it will taste ten times better with a sprig of Thyme in it. Thyme is one of the universal and most used herb with a very sharp and aromatic taste. Thyme is a very easy herb to grow which does not require much attention; it can be placed in stony ground but ideally needs the sun. The plant needs to be sheltered from the cold; mine lives in a window box during the winter but the wind in the summer does not seem to do it any harm. Because of its smoky aroma it is very attractive to bees and therefore take care especially when the herb is blooming. A strain is also available called lemon thyme and guess what it tastes of !! The plant will grow up to 20cm tall and has a green leaf that has lovely lilac flowers around July. Thyme is said to have medicinal qualities due to antiseptic properties that are in the herb and hence is mixed into oils for that purpose. I have done it once before and used it as a mouthwash. It’s also used to fragrant the air when used in potpourri or try sticking it in your pillow case. ---Thyme Vinegar--- Crush the Thyme in a pestle and mortar and heat the vinegar ensuring that it does not boil. Pour into a bottle and let stand in a dark area for two to three weeks. Strain the vinegar and place back into a dispensing bottle with a sprig of thyme. Try thyme its very versatile and very hardy an ideal herb to start growing in the garden.