I’ve been running the food dehydrator non-stop to my husband’s dismay. Everyday he says things like, “You haven’t finished drying that parsley yet?” and I have to remind him that now I’m onto drying something else like sage, rosemary or thyme. This week I’ve been harvesting and drying a TON of thyme. This year we grew quote a few different varieties in bulk but some of my favorites include: French, English, Silver Edged, Lemon, Spicy Orange and Lavender.
Culinarily French Thyme is the typically the best tasting and the most requested by our restaurant and chef clients. This drys exceedingly well and maintains its delicious flavor. English is another highly sought after variety and the most most home gardeners are familiar with. We grew both on the farm this year and I personally found the French variety edges out the English ever so slightly. Silver Edged is also a good choice because it can be used in cooking but looks just as pretty in the garden or a pot with its silvery-white edges. Lemon is a must if you like to cook with fish and Lavender is a good addition to rice, pot roasts and doughs if you like the flavor of lavender (it really does have a lavender taste!). And I found spicy orange is best for borders. I adore its citrusy-orange scent as I step on or brush against it in the garden.
Thyme – fresh or dry – is a must in the kitchen for me. It is an essential herb in spice mixes like bouquet garnis and herbes de Provence. I use it in soups, stews, herb breads, marinades and meats. This herb has so many uses in the kitchen that it is a no-brainer for us to grow and dry so we have home-grown thyme all year long.
And drying this herb couldn’t be easier! Harvest stems early in the morning, and cut right before your thyme blooms for peak flavor. Rinse and shake off any excess water. You can dry the leave on or off the stem, but they’ll dry quicker off. If you have a dehydrator kudos to you, it should take a couple of days. If not, don’t worry, you can bundle a few springs together and hang them upside down in a room that is a at least 50ºF for a week or so. Once dried, the leaves should come off easily by using your thumb and forefinger to squeeze and run them down the stem.
Now just store them in an airtight container out of sunlight to maintain flavor. And as a rule of thumb use one teaspoon of dried thyme for every tablespoon of fresh when cooking.
n soups, herb breads and marinades