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Jan 21, 2005 03:39 PM

Fresh thyme trick?

  • j

Is there an easy way to get the leaves off the stems of fresh thyme?

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  1. Hold the stem with fingers of one hand (right hand), then place two fingers (thumb and forefinger) of the other hand (left hand) just above the fingers holding the stem. Pull the stem with the right hand through the fingers of the left hand.

    The leaves will come off, do this over a clean surface.

    I believe it is called stripping.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Alan408

      No, no - you've got it backwards. Hold the stem with the LEFT hand and pull through the fingers of the RIGHT hand. Unless you're in the southern hemisphere, of course. ;^)

      1. re: FlyFish

        Just pull from top to bottom, against the grain, as it were. Either hand. I use my toes.

    2. I don't think there's a really "easy" way to get just the leaves from most varieties of thyme. You're going to have some thin stem material too.

      The stripping technique described in the other posts (no matter which fingers or toes you use) works as well as anything. Unlike stripping rosemary (which grows along single, heavier central branches) thyme is more delicate and has smaller branches too tiny to strip cleanly without removing branch material as well. But the thinner branches don't seem to cause a problem in most dishes. If there's a better way I've never found it..

      1 Reply
      1. re: Midlife

        Of course, I usually buy big bunches of thyme, rinse, shake dry, use some, strip as described, then freeze the rest...
        THIS is where it gets easier. You take that frozen bunch of thyme, rub it between your hands, and the leaves just fall off. Do it over the pot...


      2. I believe I once saw a chef on a cooking show say that if you nuked it for a minute, you can then just shake the leaves off. Since I don't have a microwave I can't verify it.

        1. Scissors work for me. It takes some 'time' (sorry 'bout that) I just hold a bunch, snip away at the tips while engaged in TV or conversation and while at the kitchen counter.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Lanny
            Judith Hurley

            I use scissors for rosemary, saves huge time (there's that pesky pun again), but the leaves on thyme are so tiny. I have to admit that a few stems aren't a problem, but when I tried "stripping" the stems they just kind of broke apart. Maybe I should try toes.

            1. re: Judith Hurley

              You're always going to run out of leverage on the tender portions of the branch at the top when you strip it, unless you spend minutes per branch picking off ech individual bud. I haven't ever discerned a difference in taste or texture just leaving these tender portions of the branch in the mix. I also usually give the stripped leaves a bit of a chop with my chef's knife before adding them to whatever I'm cooking, and the stemmy bits get chopped up small enough that they're not noticeable.

              1. re: emdb

                A couple of years ago I had a job where I had to strip thyme leaves for 45 minutes a day, every day. Such boredom! - notice the tense 'had'!
                A lot depends on the particular batch of thyme you are working with: some thyme has thin limp stems and is almost impossible to strip. That's definitely where Iwould have chopped finely. And some bunches have sturdy twigs for stems - in that case, stripping with your fingers is the only route. And we used the thyme (1 ounce of leaves) in dinner rolls, where chopping would certainly not have been noticeable!