Thyme is a herb that is famous for its distinct aroma. It is used commonly in cooking, baking, therapeutic processes and even for bathing.
Thyme are perennial and belong to the mint family. These herbs grow profusely in warm climatic conditions. They love the heat off the sun and require well-drained soil for a good growth.
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Although they can withstand cold to some extent, they cannot grow in extreme cold weather. Hence, if you live in colder climatic regions you might not be able to grow and harvest thyme in your garden or get fresh sprig of thyme from the market. That is why, you should resort to drying thyme.
Thyme is an essential ingredient of Mediterranean recipes majorly in the form of seasoning. Greek and Italian cuisines mostly use thyme along with a dash of lemon turning them into a perfect and powerful duo.
Thyme is culinary herb used in savory dishes like flat breads, roasted meat, vegetables, or fish. It is also widely used to add flavor to salads, soups, marinades, stocks, and tea.
It does not matter whether it is fresh or dried, the earthy flavor and aroma of this herb remains intact. As already discussed in the introduction, some countries, during winters there is almost no sign of sun.
Therefore, growing thyme naturally may be tough. In such cases, you need to know the basics regarding how to dry thyme for storage.
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We shall guide you through the different techniques of drying, preserving and storing thyme sprigs but let us first get to know this herb a little better.
What does thyme look like?
Basically, there are three types of thyme which grow across the world. These are, English Thyme, German Thyme and French Thyme.
The stem of the German variety is green in color and it has rounded leaves just like Oregano. On the other hand, the French and English varieties have green pointy leaves with reddish tinge in their stems.
3 Simple Methods of Drying Thyme at Home
Now that you know about the general description of thyme sprigs, let us talk about 3 different methods to dry and preserve them in your home.
1. Hang Dry the Thyme Leaves
The hang-dry method is similar to the usual drying method. In order to do so, you first need to pick the fresh long stems of thyme and cut them with sharp scissors or pruners.
Here, you should look for equal-length stems as you may need to tie them later on and trim the unwanted part of the stem. Choosing unbloomed sprigs is usually recommended.
- Next, you need to rinse the bunch under running tap water to wash out any dirt or gravel from the stems and leaves.
- Use a paper towel to dry every drop of water to prevent the growth of molds and to prepare for the drying stage.
- You should gather all the stems and find a common spot to tie them together with about a 30cm long twine or string.
- Please make sure that no leaf is pressed as the pressure might damage the texture. It would be best if you had the bunch of sprigs in a warm, dark and dry place.
- The temperature around the bunch should be above 10o C, or 50o F. Hang these at a corner of your house which is not used that often so that they remain undisturbed.
- Keep the sprigs hanging for 1-2 weeks and then store the stems and leaves by picking them with bare hands in an airtight container or in a mason jar.
Store it in a cool and dark place possibly a cupboard pantry. There you have it, your homemade supply for summer savory dishes.
2. Drying Thyme in Oven/Microwave
It is a faster process of preparing homemade dried thyme compared to the hang-dry method.
In this method, you need to
- Select long and fresh unbloomed stems of thyme as before and wash it thoroughly followed by drying the sprigs on the paper towels.
- Secondly, you need to put the sprigs on parchment paper or a silicon mat laid on a baking sheet. It would give you better results if you did not put the thyme sprigs directly on the baking sheet, as it will lose its color by coming in direct contact with the metal.
- After this, dry the leaves and stems at 380 C or 1000 F for 24 hours and be cautious about the leaves not burning instantly. They should wilt first and then get dried slowly.
- On completing the above-mentioned step you can store the leaves in a cool and dark place with less humidity in airtight containers.
- The leaves become delicate and powdered after drying, hence you need to be careful while storing them.
To dry the leaves in the microwave, you need to place the sprigs on paper towels placed on a wire rack inside the oven.
Set the HIGH heat option for 2-3 minutes and always keep looking for the condition of the leaves. They should not get burnt. Lastly, keep it outside for cooling down and you can store it afterwards.
3. How to Dry Thyme in Dehydrator
Using a dehydrator for drying thyme is another clever substitute to oven drying to get quickly dried thyme at your disposal.
Like the previous two methods, you need to clean the harvested sprigs first and dab them with paper towels to take out all the excess water.
- Place the sprigs on the dehydrator chamber and switch it on at 380 C or 1000 F for 1-2 hours. It may take some extra time and that is completely normal.
- Keep checking on the browning of leaves. Do not let the leaves burn. After the dehydration is complete, you can store it in an airtight vessel for years.
These were 3 commonly used techniques for drying thyme sprigs at your home comfort. We hope that these methods will suffice your thyme requirements even on the coldest winter days.
You may dry several other herbs in chain to add more dimensions to your dishes and even beverages.
The rustic flavor of dried Sage, Oregano, Rosemary and Parsley can give your simple recipes a touch of countryside cuisines. So without further ado, try them out already!
How to Store Dried Thyme
- Store dried thyme in airtight containers such as re-sealable bags or zippered plastic bags or containers with air-tight lids. If you don’t like using plastic, glass jars that have covers with rubber seals will do the trick.
- Place containers in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. There are now amber-colored canning jars that are designed to block sunlight. Placing the thyme in the refrigerator will extend its shelf life.
- Label the container with the time and date it was dried and stored so that you have an idea when to replace with freshly-dried leaves.
- When stored properly, dried thyme will be good for a year or two; that is, if you haven’t used it all up before then.
Tips for Using Dried Herbs
- When you want to use your herbs in cooking, simply pull out a stem and crumble the leaves into the pot. You should be able to loosen the leaves by running your hand down the stem.
- Use about 1 teaspoon crumbled dried leaves in place of a tablespoon of fresh herbs.
- Dried herbs are best used within a year. As your herbs lose their color, they are also losing their flavor.
You now have the full information guide to everything that’s needed for drying thyme at home and storing it for further use.