Herbing it up: Thyme

Thymus vulgaris. It’s the herb that delicately flavors poultry, soups and delicate sauces.

There’s lots of thyme sold in garden and big box stores, but the one you want should say T.vulgaris. Look for English thyme, and be certain it says culinary. Most thyme on the nursery shelves is ornamental.

It is indeed a beautiful flowering plant that creeps, fills in rocky crevices and thrives in poor soil.

Over-watering, especially in winter, is the enemy of thyme.

I made the mistake of planting mine in a clay pot and bringing it indoors. Then I overwatered and killed it. Next week, I’m starting more by seed because it can be tough to divide an existing plant.

The bigger reason I’m starting it by seed is that I want a lot of it. I cannot think of any meat or stew that doesn’t benefit from this delicate herb. Paired with lemon, it is divine in chicken scaloppini. It is a friend of cream, especially if you are making a cream sauce for pasta that will be served with poultry.

Finally, if you are lucky enough to know a beekeeper, gift your friend with some thyme plants for his garden. Bees that feed on nectar from thyme produce a wonderfully aromatic and flavorful honey that is among some of the best honey you can buy.

Thyme is a member of the mint family, believe it or not, but you’ll never be lucky enough to have your garden thyme spread like the evil takeover crop of mint that half of old Durango claims.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve stopped bitching about the proliferation of mint in my neighborhood. Now I add it to my Vietnamese or Thai dishes or throw it in a canister of sugar to sweeten iced tea.

But mint is a subject for another blog on another day.

Right now, it’s time for thyme.

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