There are some 350 species of thyme. They share much in common, sun-loving perennial shrubs, or tiny, creeping plants that grow between rocks and stones.
Garden or common thyme [ T. vulgaris ] is the principal culinary thyme. The leaves are tiny, gray-green and highly aromatic. Thyme requires good drainage and full sun for the development of essential oils. Thyme can be started from seed, although some varieties do much better when propagated by cuttings. Thyme likes a lime-rich soil, kept on the dry side, so don’t overwater. Mulch around thyme plants that you’ll use in cooking so the dirt doesn’t splash up when it rains- it’s hard to clean thyme’s tiny leaves.
Space the plants close together when setting them out in the garden. The plants will quickly fill in empty spaces and produce a “carpet” of dense plants that crowd out weeds. The ancient gardens of Greece had entire hills of thyme, wonderful and fragrant carpets to walk upon. The highest praise was given to men and women who strolled about the hillsides where the thyme grew. The smell of thyme clung to their garments long after they came down to the cities.
Dry thyme by cutting branches just before they bloom. When the leaves feel crisp, strip them off the stems just as you would do fresh thyme: hold the stem in one hand and run your finger and thumb against it from the top down. You can also freeze fresh leaves or add them to butter, oil, or vinegar.
Some different varieties: Caraway thyme, Lemon thyme, Spanish thyme, Azores thyme, Mother of thyme, Wooly thyme.
Here’s a recipe for Onion Jam with fresh thyme:
2 large white onions, finely diced
1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and a non-stick pan
1/4 cup hot and spicy ketchup
2 tablespoons of dark brown sugar
Saute’ onions in the vegetable oil, but don’t allow the onions to brown. You want them soft and clear looking. Add a little water if the pan becomes dry. Stir in the sugar and ketchup, simmer for a few minutes and remove from heat. Once the jam has cooled, stir in about 1/4 teaspoon of finely minced fresh thyme. Store the jam in the fridge in a glass container. Serve the jam on grilled burgers, baked beans, steak, pork chops, or rolls.
Blessed be ~ sweet ones.
~ Meadow Walker