Ingredient of the week: Thyme
If I didn’t know better I’d say that Thyme originated in Jamaica. Though that may not be true, there’s no denying that thyme is a popular spice that’s used in most savory Jamaican dishes. So, if you want to cook like a Jamaican you’ll need to stock up on thyme! I use it to season meat and to add flavour to everything from soup to rice. I like using dried thyme leaves, but I always have sprigs of dried thyme handy to throw into a pot. I use fresh thyme, too.
Since my husband Eddie and I retired, we moved to a smaller house. However, I still had to have somewhere to garden, no matter how small. I like to grow my own thyme in the summer because it so easy. It can be grown in pots and harvested and dried, or used fresh.
English Thyme is the most common form of thyme and the flavor normally associated with thyme. However, Caribbean Thyme is said to be the strongest flavored cultivar of thyme around. Although the flavor of Caribbean thyme is the same as English thyme, it’s supposedly 10 times more powerful. It makes sense to me that Caribbean thyme is the strongest one out there, because we love our thyme!
If you’ve never grown your own thyme, why not give it try this summer. Here are 5 easy steps to drying fresh thyme:
- Shake the branches to remove any dust or dirt. Washing the branches only improves the chances that the thyme will mildew instead of drying properly.
- Group the branches into small bunches with the stems all going in the same direction. The group of stems should be no thicker than your little finger.
- Tie the stems together just tight enough to hold them together. If they are too tight air circulation might be hampered; if they’re too loose, they’ll fall apart.
- Hang these tied bunches, stems up, in an area where there is good air circulation and out of direct sunlight. It will take about 10 days to dry completely.
- Untie the string once the thyme is completely dry, and break the thyme into small pieces. Store in a glass jar with a good seal.