Tagged: Thyme

A Love of Thyme

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Thyme is a herb I use in a lot of my cooking. It features in a lot of Sicilian, Italian and Greek dishes. It holds up very well when used in slow cooker or casserole dishes.

Garden thyme is a bush with gray-green leaves on a thin, woody stem and is a member of the mint family.

It is a herb that can be used both fresh and dried, whole or ground. It has a strong, sometimes pungent but has a pleasant flavor, resembling a blend of cloves and sage with mint notes.

Most common variety for cooking is English thyme. Other varieties include lemon thyme and caraway thyme. It has a subtle pine and lemon and spice flavor. It is versatile and widely complementary, but can overwhelm delicate foods. Use liberally but carefully. Thyme also combines well with rosemary, basil, and garlic.

Thyme is native to theMediterranean, which makes it a popular ingredient in Italian and Greek cooking. In the Mediterranean basin, it grows wild on the “hot, arid hillsides where it has infinitely more flavor than it ever achieves in cooler regions.

I always have some dried thyme in my spice rack but at the end of the day, fresh is best.

Cooking with Thyme is a little different that many others herbs. The leaves should be taken off their stalks. They can add a woody or stringy element to a dish that’s un-needed. It should be chopped finely and added early in the cooking to get rid of the strong bitter flavour of the fresh leaf that it can develop.

It’s wonderful in poultry, fish, and vegetable dishes and in slow cooked stews and soups. Its flavor blends well with many other herbs. Chopped fresh leaves are much more pungent than dried.

Thyme can be used with nearly all the meats, including seafood and shellfish. It can also be used to flavour egg dishes, casseroles and soups.If you are lucky enough to be able to grow your own, Keep in mind that thyme leaves are sweetest if picked just as the flowers appear.

When cooking with thyme, be aware that one fresh sprig equals the flavoring power of one-half teaspoon of dried thyme.

It is preferable to strip the leaves from the stems for your recipes when using either dry or fresh thyme because sometimes the stems can be woody. This is easily accomplished by placing the stem between the tines of a fork and pulling the stem in the opposite direction of the leaf growth. Of course, you can also use your fingers instead of a fork.

Some Uses

Add whole sprigs or chopped leaves at any stage of cooking. Thyme is a uniquely adaptable herb for meats, seafood, and summer and winter vegetables. Use springs in bouquet garni to fully flavor stocks, sauces and soups.

Add sprigs to slow-roasted tomatoes, braises, and pasta sauces to add depth. Infuse sprigs in poaching liquids for fruit desserts and in cream for caramel sauce.

Rub chopped leaves (fresh or dried) into beef, lamb, veal, or pork before roasting. Sprinkle over eggs, cheese dishes, vegetables, fish, or poultry. Add to soups, stews, stuffings, and rice. Brew into tea with a little rosemary and mint.

Lemon thyme can be used in cooking in much the same way as common thyme. The flavor is less pungent and distinctly lemony. It is particularly tasty in stuffing for veal and poultry. Mix chopped leaves into custards, puddings, and whipped-cream toppings. Sprinkle lightly over fresh strawberries and other acidic fruits.

Whether you grow them yourself or purchase them, herbs are the best, most healthy way to season your food. Farmers markets are a great place to get fresh and dried herbs.

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