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What is thyme?

Thyme is a perennial herb that is a member of the mint family. It is native to the Mediterranean region and is widely used in cooking as a seasoning. Thyme has small, gray-green leaves and delicate pink or purple flowers. It is known for its warm, woodsy, and slightly minty aroma. Thyme is often used to flavor meats, soups, stews, and sauces, and it is a key ingredient in many traditional Mediterranean and French dishes. The herb can also be used in a dried form or as an oil.

cooking with thyme

Are there different varieties of thyme?

Yes, there are several different varieties of thyme, each with its own unique flavor and aroma. Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Common thyme (Thymus vulgaris) is the most widely used variety of thyme in cooking. It has a strong, pungent flavor and aroma and is used to flavor a wide range of dishes.
  • Lemon thyme (T. citriodorus) has a lemony aroma and flavor and is often used in Mediterranean and French cuisine.
  • Orange thyme (Thymus x citriodorus) is similar to lemon thyme, but with a more subtle citrus flavor.
  • Silver thyme (T. serpyllum) has small, gray-green leaves and a subtle, woodsy flavor. It is often used as a ground cover in gardens.
  • French thyme (T. vulgaris ’French’) is a cultivar of common thyme that is known for its strong, pungent flavor and aroma.
  • Caraway thyme (T. herba-barona) has a distinctive caraway-like flavor and aroma and is often used in soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Doone Valley thyme (Thymus x citriodorus ’Doone Valley’) is a popular variety that has a lemon-orange flavor that’s well suited for cooking or as a garnish.

Each variety of thyme has its own unique flavor and aroma, so you may want to experiment with different varieties to find the one that you prefer.

How do you cook with thyme?

There are many ways to use thyme in cooking. Here are a few methods:

  • Fresh thyme can be used to flavor meat dishes such as roasted chicken, pork, and lamb. Simply add a few sprigs of thyme to the pan or insert them under the skin of the meat before roasting.
  • Dried thyme can be used as a seasoning for vegetables, particularly those that are roasted or grilled. It pairs well with vegetables such as tomatoes, bell peppers, and potatoes.
  • Thyme can be used to make a flavorful herb butter. Simply soften butter, mix in some chopped fresh thyme, then shape it into a log and refrigerate or freeze.
  • Thyme is a traditional ingredient in the Mediterranean dish bouquet garni, a bundle of herbs that is added to soups, stocks, and stews for flavor. A bouquet garni typically consists of a few sprigs of thyme, as well as parsley and bay leaves.
  • Thyme is a key ingredient in various marinades, rubs and dressing for meats.
  • Thyme can also be used to flavor homemade salad dressings and vinaigrettes.

Overall thyme is quite versatile herb which can be used in many ways, it can be added to a dish at the beginning of cooking, or used as a finishing herb, either way it will add a unique and wonderful flavour.

What are some good dishes to make with thyme?

There are many delicious dishes that feature thyme as a key ingredient. Here are a few examples:

  • Roasted Chicken with Thyme: Season a whole chicken with salt, pepper, and fresh thyme before roasting it in the oven. The thyme adds a warm, woodsy flavor to the juicy, tender meat.
  • Grilled lamb chops with thyme: Marinate lamb chops with olive oil, thyme, garlic, rosemary and other herbs. Grill them till they are cooked to your liking.
  • Beef Stew with Thyme: Brown some stew meat and then cook it slowly with carrots, onions, potatoes, and thyme in a flavorful beef broth.
  • Thyme-Roasted Tomatoes: Cut tomatoes in half and toss them with olive oil, thyme, and garlic, then roast them in the oven.
  • Thyme and Garlic Roasted Potatoes: Cut potatoes in wedges, and toss with olive oil, thyme, and garlic. Roast in the oven till golden and crispy.
  • Thyme and Lemon Grilled Fish: Season fish fillets with salt and pepper, thyme and lemon juice. Grill until cooked through.
  • Ratatouille: A traditional French stewed vegetable dish, made from eggplant, bell pepper, onions, zucchini, tomato and thyme.
  • Beef/Lamb/Vegetable/Potato/Chicken Pies: pies can be flavored with thyme and other herbs that give a wonderful flavour to the pastry, and the filling.

As you can see, thyme is a versatile herb that can be used in a variety of dishes to add flavor and aroma. This list is not exhaustive, there are many other ways it can be used, and you can always experiment with thyme to discover new ways to use it.

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