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Denuding Thyme. Certainly there must be an easy way. Help!

  • Googs Jan 11, 2009 09:46 AM
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Whether dried or fresh I seem to be having a devil of a time stripping my thyme. Does anyone know of any quick and easy ways to do this? I'd settle for just one of those at this point.

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  1. If it's very tender, fresh stems, almost thread-like, I throw it in whole, especially if I'm pureeing a soup. Otherwise, you can tie a few sprigs together, throw it in the pot, let the leaves fall off as they cook, and fish out the stems later.

    2 Replies
    1. re: nemo

      I quite agree with nemo...the younger stems are not woody at all and probably depart flavor themselves. Nobody wants to chew on a big sprig, though...so those are easily fished out.

      1. re: nemo

        I use the tied method as well but after I tie the stems I bruise them with the butt of my knife so the leaves release some of their essence.

      2. I don't know a way. I think MMR is trying to teach her dog to do it ;)

        1. Nope. It's like boning shad or skinning a squirrel - it's a picky, fiddly job, and if you want all leaves and no stems you're just stuck with it. As most of the other posters have said, the easy way out is to cook first and pick out the stems later, but for uncooked applications, like my favorite cold bean salad, I just have to put on my reading glasses and settle down to it for a while.

          1. All the cooks on the tv shows just pull the leaves off "backwards" from the stem. It's never worked for me. I've reverted to using the accessible and trusty dry stuff.

            4 Replies
            1. re: Sarah

              I find that the direction does matter immensely (maybe the right direction is the "backwards" one? i'm not visualizing what that means...) You do have to do them stem by stem, but all you have to do is just pull the stem between your fingers and pinch at the end (where the stem is tender enough to include) and you get them all. It is indeed a bit painstaking, but not at all difficult. And as a bonus (?), your fingers smell like thyme at the end :)

              1. re: another_adam

                backwards means fron the tip of the branch down. - hold the twig between two fingers and pull it throug from end to base. the leaves strip off. You have to do this little branch by little branch, and you cant start at the delicate tip, which will break. the tips can be chopped up at the end, with the leaves, but you dont want the woodier stems in your dish.

                1. re: another_adam

                  That's what I do.

                  The ones you can't do that with, that have a lot of short leafy stems coming off of them, I just yank off the short stems and include them along with the leaves. They're tender enough that no one cares.

                  1. re: FuzzyDunlop

                    That is what I do and then I give it a quick chop. The tips that also break off are tender enough to eat if they are also chopped fine.

              2. I struggle with thyme denuding, and have tried all that has been said here. When in a soup, stew, braise - I just put it all in and fish out the stems. I have much more fun with this technique.

                1. Thanks a bunch you guys. Even if there isn't an easier way, its nice to know I'm not alone. Sounds like calming classical music while I rip apart *ahem* I mean gently run my fingers backwards along the stems.

                  1. Try the freezer! I rinse and pat-dry the thyme, put it a baggie, freeze it until firm, then rub the bag between my fingers. Lots of leaves fall off of the stems and can be tossed into whatever you are making.