When sharing some herbs with my friend Beyza today, I realized I didn’t know much about thyme, except that it does best in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Curious about where the herb originates and what it can be used for, I decided to make it the next garden plant that I would research and learn some facts about. And it turns out that thyme has quite a history!
The Egyptians used it for embalming. The Greeks used it as a form of incense and considered it a representation of courage. “Thyme’s association with bravery continued throughout medieval times when it was a ritual for women to give their knights a scarf that had a sprig of thyme placed over an embroidered bee,” according to The World’s Healthiest Foods website. Sources say that in the Middle Ages thyme was also placed beneath the pillow to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. (I wonder if I could make thyme-scented satchels to keep beneath my pillow and tucked into my clothing drawers!)
Approximately 60 varieties of thyme exist, including orange thyme, lemon thyme (what I’m growing), and silver thyme, among others. Bonnie Plants notes that lemon thyme is more vigorous than other varieties of this perennial herb. Aside from its therapeutic properties, thyme is great for cooking; however, many websites note that it should be added late in a recipe that involves heat, since it can easily lose its flavor. In addition, you can either cook with just the leaves (using a paring knife or the prongs of a fork to remove them, since they’re so small) or with the full sprig. Bonnie Plants had some good suggestions that I’d like to try, such as adding thyme to butter for flavoring or using lemon thyme as a tea.
Do you have any other suggestions for how to use this timeless herb?