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HERBS

Thyme

Thymus vulgaris

By Shirley Miller

Silver Thyme
T. vulgaris 'Argenteus'

Thyme is a hardy, evergreen, low-growing woody plant with tiny leaves. Pale lilac or pink blossoms appear in mid-summer. Thyme ranges in height from 3 to 15 inches depending on the species. There are several flavors of thyme, including lemon. Some thymes are creepers and make good ground covers. Among the creepers are: Coccineus, English wild, Golden, and Wooly. Other thymes such as Broad Leaf, herba-barona and Silver lemon queen are small shrubs whose stems become woody in the second season.

How to grow: Plant thyme in light, well-drained soil, preferably alkaline and full sun. In summer prune frequently. Protect thyme in very cold weather. Thyme can be grown indoors in containers.

Propagation: Propagate by taking stem cuttings with a "heel" anytime except winter. Divide thyme roots in spring or fall. Some species may be planted from seed. Keep seedlings moist until established.

Harvesting: Pick leaves in summer. Best flavor is obtained when plant is in bloom.

Common Thyme
T. vulgaris

Preserving: Dry. When thoroughly dry, strip leaves from stem. Fresh sprigs may be infused with oil or vinegar.

Culinary uses: Thyme has been used since ancient times to flavor fish, shellfish, chowders, eggs, meats, poultry, salads, sauces, soups, stuffings and vegetables. Thyme is one of the basic ingredients for bouquet garni.* Foods slowly cooked in wine are enhanced with thyme Use fresh thyme sparingly, as the flavor is extra pungent.

Other uses: Thyme blossoms are a favorite of bees. Thyme honey is highly sought. Use in potpourri. Use sprigs in summer bouquets.


* BOUQUET GARNI
1 Bay Leaf
1 Sprig Thyme
1 Sprig Fresh Parsley
1 Small Piece Celery
Gather all fresh or dried ingredients in your hand. Tie together with string. The bouquet may also be tied in a bag of cheesecloth. One bouquet is enough for an average family sized dish.