Thyme the Versatile Herb
- Wine and Food tube May 13, 2008 07:36 PM
A lot of people who love to cook are very fond of herbs and spices and look for every opportunity to present them into a dish.
Some cooks go overabundant, and sprinkle them in everything on the off chance they will find something new.
Then there are those who avoid seasonings altogether for fear they will ruin an entire dish by over-seasoning, or worse, adding the wrong seasoning.
One such herb is thyme; its most active ingredient - thymol - is a well-known ingredient in products like Listerine and Vicks.
Thymol has antibacterial and antifungal properties, which makes it useful for a number of things.
Its oil, when inhaled, can help to loosen phlegm and relax the muscles in the respiratory tract and when made into a tea, thyme is helpful for colds and flu. Adding thyme to a dish infuses a whole new flavor and fragrance; its dry aroma and slightly minty flavor allow it to pair perfectly with minced garlic in rubs for lamb, pork, or even beef roasts, or by itself to enhance cheese, tomato, and egg dishes.
Try adding some thyme to stuffing, spaghetti, pizza sauces or chilli.
Thyme retains its flavor on drying better than many other herbs, and dried thyme, especially powdered, occupies less space than fresh, so less of it is required when substituted in a recipe.
As a rule of thumb, use one-third as much dried as fresh thyme, a little less if it is ground.
Thyme is slow to release its flavors so it is best added early in the cooking process to ensure proper flavor penetration.
Thyme is great on roast beef, which makes a great Kummelweck.
Kummelweck or a weck is a roast beef sandwich made famous in Buffalo, New York by being served on a special Kaiser roll topped with lots of pretzel salt and caraway seeds.
Its name comes from its creator who is believed to have been William Wahr, a German baker from the Black Forest, an area of Germany where bread rolls are known as wecks.
Whats your favorite herb?
Thyme tates like bread mold to me. I think I have the cilantro gene, except for thyme. Everytime I include it in a recipe, I'm sure I've used moldy bread.
That's an awful lot more than I ever knew about thyme! Perhaps you can help me. I saw a German thyme plant at the store and bought it, it smelled so good. Do you know how German thyme differs from other thymes? There are so many varieties!
Kummelweck sounds very interesting. I'll have to try that.
So glad it's growing season again.
Wow, great post. A lot about thyme that I never knew. I think thyme is a herb whose time has come. For some reason everything has been rosemary lately. Time to think thyme.
Chow ingrediants has some interesting addition info about thyme.
I have a little box of dried thyme I haven't used yet. You inspired me to experiment. I think I might make some salmon salad tommorrow with thyme mixed it.
Question asked which favourite herb. Answer is I don't have one.
I grow bay, rosemary, chives, garlic chives, three varieties of mint, three of thyme, two of sage, two of marjoram. All get regularly used in cooking
I used to overdo the herbs on everything. Then I went into a reactionary phase where I only salt and peppered things. Then I bypassed herbs and seasoned savoury dishes with "cookie" spices like cinnamon, cloves, and ginger(which I still enjoy doing). now only season with fresh herbs, and I enjoy fresh Rosemary the best...not very versatile, but hardy, and very aromatic, and it's just exactly right in some dishes.
Re:English, French or German Thyme?
You'll probably be happy with whatever one you go with, it's just a matter of taste. I find that English thyme has, for lack of a better vocabulary, more of a "thyme" flavor. It's lush and green and the flavor is so pungent as far as thyme goes and it's always added the most flavor to my cooking when it comes to using the thymes.
Out of the three I like English the best, but my favorite by far is lemon thyme. The flavor is so bright and fresh.
If all three are available to you, why not plant all three and try them out and see which one your palate prefers?