Thyme is the leaf of a low-growing shrub in the mint family called Thymus vulgaris. Its tiny grayish-green leaves rarely are greater than one-fourth inch long. For use as a condiment, Thyme leaves are dried then chopped, or ground.
Thyme is grown in southern Europe, including France, Spain, and Portugal. It is also indigenous to the Mediterranean.
Traditional Ethnic Uses
Thyme is often included in seasoning blends for poultry and stuffing and also commonly used in fish sauces, chowders, and soups. It goes well with lamb and veal as well as in eggs, custards, and croquettes. Thyme often is paired with tomatoes.
Taste and Aroma Description
Thyme has a subtle, dry aroma and a slightly minty flavor.
History/Region of Origin
Ancient Greeks considered Thyme a symbol of courage and sacrifice. Tradition tells that Thyme was in the straw bed of the Virgin Mary and the Christ child. In the Middle Ages, ladies would embroider a sprig of Thyme into scarves they gave to their errant knights. At various periods in history, Thyme has been used to treat melancholy, reproductive system ailments, and to improve digestion. In the 18th century, it was recommended as a cure for a hangover.
Store in cool, dark, dry places.
A Few Ideas to Get You Started
Rub minced garlic and Thyme over lamb, pork, or beef roasts. Season cheese, tomato, and egg dishes with Thyme. Blend fragrant Thyme into poultry stuffing, spaghetti or pizza sauce, and chili along with any combination of marjoram, basil, oregano, sage, rosemary, or garlic.