Growing Thyme

Looking for an easy-to-grow herb? Try thyme. It's decorative and functional, great for dried arrangements, for kitchen creations, and even for medicinal uses.

Native throughout the Mediterranean, thyme is a subshrub perennial that loves sun, and dry, well-drained soil. A member of the mint family, there are hundreds of varieties of thyme, but only six or so are commonly grown. The plant will be no taller than ten inches or so, but will spread out to about eighteen inches. Prune back to fresh growth in the Spring and cut new shoots regularly. If the plant "dies" in the middle, it's time to divide or replace it.

Uses for Thyme

The ancient Egyptians used thyme in preserving mummies while the Greeks and Romans used it for food flavoring and as a fumigant, so this herb goes "way back". It is aromatic and bees love the flowers (yummy honey!) but other insects don't like it one bit. Thyme tea in a mister can be sprayed on doorways and around windows to repel insects.

Medicinally, thyme oil is used commercially in a variety of products ranging from antiseptics to mouthwash to skin cleanser. The oil has antibacterial and antifungal properties, so can be used as a natural treatment for nail fungus and such. Sprigs of thyme are also a nice addition to a hot bath.

Cooking with Thyme

Thyme leaves can be used fresh or dried in recipes. One fresh sprig equals 1/2 teaspoon dried. Dry your own sprigs by tying them together and hanging upside-down in a warm, dry place for about ten days. Strip leaves off of stems when using thyme in cooking.

Savory Thyme Biscuits

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold, cut into bits
3/4 cup buttermilk

1. Combine flour through salt in a large bowl.

2. Add butter and use a pastry blender or your fingertips to cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

3. Stir in buttermilk until combined. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead about thirty seconds.

4. Roll out into a 1 inch thick circle and cut into triangles OR use a circular cutter for traditional biscuit shape.

5. Place on a parchment-line baking sheet and bake at 450 degrees for 14-15 minutes, until golden on the edges.

For more recipes using thyme, visit:

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