A delicate looking herb with a penetrating fragrance, thyme is a wonderful addition to bean, egg and vegetable dishes. Both fresh and dried thyme is available in your local supermarket throughout the year.
Thyme leaves are curled, elliptically shaped and very small, measuring about one-eighth of an inch long and one-sixteenth of an inch wide. The upper leaf is green-grey in color on top, while the underside is a whitish color. Along with fresh sprigs of parsley and bay leaves, thyme is included in the French combination of herbs called bouquet garni used to season stock, stews and soups.
Thyme has a long history of use in natural medicine in connection with chest and respiratory problems including coughs, bronchitis, and chest congestion. Only recently, however, have researchers pinpointed some of the components in thyme that bring about its healing effects. The volatile oil components of thyme are now known to include carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, but most importantly, thymol.
Thyme has been used since ancient times for its culinary, aromatic and medicinal properties. The ancient Egyptians used it as an embalming agent to preserve their deceased pharaohs.
In ancient Greece, thyme was widely used for its aromatic qualities, being burned as incense in sacred temples. Thyme was also a symbol of courage and admiration with the phrase “the smell of thyme” being a saying that reflected praise unto its subject. Thyme’s association with bravery continued throughout medieval times when it was a ritual for women to give their knights a scarf that had a sprig of thyme placed over an embroidered bee. Since the 16th century, thyme oil has been used for its antiseptic properties, both as mouthwash and a topical application.
Thyme is native to areas such as Asia, southern Europe and the Mediterranean region and is also cultivated in North America.
How to Enjoy:
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
- Add thyme to your favorite pasta sauce recipe.
- Fresh thyme adds a wonderful fragrance to omelets and scrambled eggs.
- Hearty beans such as kidney beans, pinto beans and black beans taste exceptionally good when seasoned with thyme.
- When poaching fish, place some sprigs of thyme on top of the fish and in the poaching liquid.
- Season soups and stocks by adding fresh thyme.
Reference: WHFoods (http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=77)