This article is part of A Harmony of Flavors mission to publish pertinent articles to help bring people’s attention to important issues or problems and hopefully offer some form of education for them to make the best decisions. This Article describes that an easy plant to grow, thyme is one of the most used plants, whether for flavoring food, enjoying the lovely plants with their tiny flowers, or steeping as with tea. An ancient herb that comes in too many varieties to count, find the ones that fit your needs and grow them so they are always available.
Native to the western Mediterranean, thyme is also widely cultivated. The most commonly encountered variety, Thymus vulgaris, is now found fresh on most cold produce shelves. Thyme comes in multitudes of varieties, many of which are wonderfully suited for use in the kitchen. It is a perennial, and will survive most winters, coming back year after year to beautify the garden and grace the table. It loves full sun and well drained soil. Some varieties are wonderful for framing walkways, releasing their warm, spicy fragrance when brushed, or for planting between edges of a raised bed. It is a beautiful ground cover. Thyme flowers profusely all summer and different varieties flower from white to pale pink and deep rose. Multiple varieties planted together yield a beautiful bed. Those that lend themselves more to beautifying a garden bed are Wooly Thyme; its wooly leaves, giving it a grayish green look, and Creeping Thyme, similar in its creeping habit. These two grow absolutely flat to the ground and climb up the sides of rocks.
Thymus vulgaris will grow to be about a foot tall, with upright growth habit. It has stiff and mostly straight stems, and leaves are easily stripped to add to dishes being cooked. Whole sprigs can also be dropped into a pot, and removed later, as with a bouquet garni. The leaves of the thyme plant are tiny, with varying shapes or colors, depending on the variety. Thymus vulgaris has tiny, darker green and more leathery leaves. Some types such as lemon thyme have variegated green and golden yellow leaves with a lemony scent and flavor. These are well suited to chicken or fish dishes. Broad leaf thyme, as the name implies, has wider and rounder leaves. Nutmeg thyme is variegated and has a scent of nutmeg. Mother of Thyme has a softer look and a more sprawling habit. The stems are far softer and the flowers are pink. There are so many varieties; it is hard to name them all.
In the kitchen, the rule of thumb is when in doubt, use thyme.
Thyme lends itself to most any savory dish. It is added in to soups or stews. Thyme is an herb of choice in most Italian dishes, alongside basil and oregano. It may also be used in some sweet applications, such as steeping a sprig of thyme in a simple syrup to be added to an iced tea. It can be added sparingly to a cake or cookies. Using fresh thyme from my garden I have often made a quick supper dish ever since my children were small. This dish makes a large amount, and the flavors are wonderful. It is a great way to get some vegetables into picky children. To me, the thyme is a defining flavor.
Rawstern is an author, teacher, gourmet cook as well as a photographer and graphic artist. She has taken or created all images appearing on these sites. Her articles have been syndicated nationally.
Her background is Slovakian on her mother's side and Yugoslavian on her father's. Her grandparents came from Europe to the United States to make a better life for themselves and their families. Her ethnic cooking influences began at the cradle. She began her cooking career in Guatemala, in 1970 when she moved there as a 20-year-old newlywed, and set out to learn to cook in a foreign land. This process was complicated by the fact that she could not speak or read the language.
Rawstern loves food, new recipes, and to teach people how to cook from scratch. Her passion is to teach people how to create A Harmony of Flavors when they cook, find joy in baking and help pass along her love of and joy in foods, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy, as she continues her journey in both ethnic cooking and domestic. Her favorite saying in her class is “Life is short – eat dessert first”.
About the Author
My name is Chris Rawstern and I have been on a cooking and baking journey for 42 years. I love food. I love to cook, and teach people how to cook, from scratch. I love baking. I love to create new recipes and try them. I hope to inspire you to follow me!
I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of collecting favored recipes of your own. Visit me at my Web site (http://www.aharmonyofflavors.com/