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Jun 30, 2008 06:46 AM

Help with Thyme

I have an herb garden (one of the few things the deer don't eat) and one of the herbs I grow is thyme. I have a very difficult time however getting the thyme leaves off the stalks. Since I grow the herbs myself and the plants are very young, the stalks are very thin. Coupled that with the need to wash the plants very well because they are near some shrubs which are sprayed, I am trying to deleaf thme which is wet and on thin stalks. Any suggestions on technique? Should I just chop with the stalks because its very thin and young?

Also, when a recipe calls for a sprig, how much should I put in?

Thx for any advice.

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  1. I also grow thyme, and it can be a challenge to get the leaves off. I pull gently backwards, but if the stem is so tender that the leaves won't come off, I simply chop them up and use them. If I am making something long and wet (like soup or stew) I sometimes just tie the whole sprigs together and remove before serving rather than fuss with getting the leaves off the stems. I do think that the flavor is best when they start to flower, and then the stems are a little sturdier, but I use it all year long. As the plant ages, I try to cut back down to the base to keep the woody part of the plant "refreshed".

    I think of a sprig as about 4 inches, but I use as much as tastes good to me, depending on the time of year and how strong the thyme tastes. Always better than buying those ridiculously expensive little packets at the store!

    1. A warning that is worth checking out.
      Many sprays used on ornamentals are "systemics" - which means that they work by being absorbed INTO the plant so you CAN'T wash them off.
      Check what you're using on the nearby shrubs. If you have the LEAST doubt, the spray should have an 800-number on the packaging for the company. Call the customer service line and FIND OUT. If you don't get satisfaction, keep going until you talk to one of their chemists.
      I have roses and other ornamentals planted in my vegetable garden and there are some things that I simply don't use. Period.
      Better to have disease and pests than use something harmful to people.

      3 Replies
      1. re: MakingSense

        very sound advice.

        If you use chemicals around the home of any kind, isolate any food plants a good distance away, even if it takes a bit of a hike to get to it.

        1. re: toodie jane

          thanks for the advice. i'll consult with the outside service and get him to stop spraying that area and cover the herbs while the spraying is going on nearby.

          1. re: SharonOhio

            Check with your landscape service to see if he can use some of the new organic products. They are the hottest thing out there in the trade.
            Once the companies saw that people wanted this stuff, they were right on top of it and now all the biggies (Ortho, Scotts, MiracleGro) have them for home use as well as for the professionals.
            Most of them still cost a little more than the old conventionals but the prices are dropping so quickly, that they'll be at parity any day now.
            Nothing like consumer demand to move the marketplace, huh?

      2. I've got many kinds of thyme growing. After it has been in the garden for awhile, the biggest concern is getting the older dried leaves and old blooms off. I immerse it and works the sprigs for a bit, until the older stuff floats up. Then pull along the stems until it naturally breaks at the tender stem. Chop all the tender bits and throw it in.

        As far as amount equal to a spring, that is one of the great mysteries but, in the case of thyme, err on the side of generosity.