Thyme is am evergreen herb with culinary, medicinal, and ordinary uses. The most common variety is "Thymus vulgaris". Thyme is of the same genus as the mint family and a relative of the orjano genus Origanin. There are about 60 different varieties of thyme including French (common) thyme, lemon thyme, orange thyme, and silver thyme. Fresh thyme is commonly sold in bunches of sprigs. A sprig is a single stem.
Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burned it as an incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to give an aromatic flavor to cheese and liqueurs. In the European middle ages the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. During this period women would give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves, as they were believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed in coffins during funerals, as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.
My first introduction to thyme was in my maternal grandmother's kitchen. When I was small we lived upstairs from her and my grandfather in a three story house in Brooklyn, New York. I would often go down stairs and spend time with them. Well, she pronounced thyme with the soft "th" sound, as in "thank", which of course is incorrect. Every time I use thyme I think of her.
Nutrition:Thyme is an excellent source of vitamin C and a very good source of vitamin A, and a good source of iron, manganese, copper, and dietary fiber.
Health Benefits:Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis , and chest congestion. Thyme also contains a variety of flavonoids, which increase its anti-oxidant capacity and combined with its status as a good source of manganese give thyme a high standing on the list of anti-oxidant foods. The volatile oil components of thyme have also been shown to have antimicrobial activity against a host of different bacteria and fungi. For thousands of years herbs and spices have been used to help preserve foods and protect them from microbial contamination, now research shows that both thyme and basil contain constituents that can both prevent contamination and decontaminate previously contaminated food. Adding fresh thyme and/or basil to your next vinaigrette will not only enhance its flavor of your fresh greens, but will help to ensure they are safe to eat.
Both fresh and dried thyme are available in your local supermarket throughout the year.
Selecting and Storing:Select sprigs of thyme with fresh green leaves with no traces of black. Store in the refrigerator unwashed loosely wrapped in an unsealed plastic bag.
Use thyme on poultry and fish, and in stuffing. Whole sprigs can be placed in the cavity of poultry before the bird is put in the oven for roasting - either alone or combined with other aromatics such as celery, onion, and parsley (remove before serving).
So..... Eat up! Enjoy! I'll show you how.
- Add thyme to your favorite pasta sauce
- Add to omelets and scrambled eggs
- Season hearty beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans with thyme
- Place sprigs of thyme on top of the fish and in the poaching liquid when poaching fish
- Season soups and stock by adding fresh thyme
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