Recipes @ Do You Have Thyme on Your Hands?

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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Do You Have Thyme on Your Hands?

As a member of the mint family, thyme adds a delicate look to any garden. Its small leaves, wirey stems and creeping growing habit make it a natural plant for tucking into a rock garden or softening the edge of a stone border. But thyme is more than just a garden plant. It can be used effectively in the kitchen where its lemonlike scent lends a subtle flavor to many types of dishes.

Here are a few of my favorite thymes:

  • Common thyme, also called English thyme has stems that grow about 1 foot tall. It produces tiny lavender or pink flowers in the middle of the summer that can be added to a summer salad.
  • Lemon thyme is a low-growing, evergreen perennial thyme that has a soft, lemony fragrance. Use this thyme in desserts for a delicate lemon flavor.
  • Argenteus, also called silver thyme has tiny silver-and-green variegated leaves that also have a lemony scent when crushed.
  • Nutmeg thyme is a low-growing, creeping thyme that has a distinct nutmeg smell. Use this thyme in desserts, where it adds a subtle nutmeg flavor to your finished product.
To use thyme for cooking, simply harvest the herb before the stems flower. It's best to harvest early in the morning, since this is when the leaves have their highest concentration of the volatile oils that give this plant its signature fragrance. You can use the leaves fresh, dried or, for future use, freeze them. Thyme is also very easy to grow; just sow the seeds directly into the garden or set out transplants. Thyme can be also be started easily from cuttings; it roots easily and quickly.

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