Continuing the series of articles on oriental spices, let’s talk about Thyme. Thyme is a seasoning that is widely used in cooking. What does thyme look like? These are undersized flowering shrubs. Thyme is often used in decorative gardening. The most remarkable property of the plant is a large number of phenolic compounds, which give it a wonderful aroma. Time is also known to have healing properties. The strongest (from Latin Thymus, Greek thymon – strength) spice is Thyme! Thyme is a genus of highly fragrant shrubs of the Labiatae family. More than 400 species of thyme are known, however, the most commonly used of these herbs are Thyme Ordinary (Thymus vulgaris) and Creeping Thyme (Thymus serpillum).
It is said that Thyme was commonly used as a part of incense, described in one an ancient and holy book. Incense is a mixture of aromatic resins and balms, which, slowly burning, exudes a pleasant aroma. The incense is indicated by the Hebrew words ketoret and ketor, which are formed from the word qatar, meaning “to offer up the sacrificial smoke.” According to one version, the name comes from Greek θυμός or “thymos,” meaning courage, since the thyme herb at that period symbolized vital energy, and athletes smeared it on their chests along with fragrant oils before the start of the games. According to another version – from Greek θυμίαμα or “thymiama” – the expression of the ancient Greeks to refer to incense (incense), which was used in the temples of that time because of its strong aroma. Thyme is also an essential ingredient in many spicy Za`atar mixtures.
Thyme leaves are used in cooking. They are stiff, almost leathery, short-stemmed, with oblong-shaped plates. They can be used both fresh or dried.
The best chefs use thyme as a seasoning, preferring, naturally, to use a fresh plant. A tablespoon of fresh thyme is equal to a teaspoon of dry. Thyme has a pleasant but strong odor, and a spicy bitter taste. As a spice, the fragrant, vitamin-rich thyme leaves are used. It can improve the taste of a dish and certainly enhances the aroma. It remains one of the leading spices in the baking business. It is often used to increase the flavor of vegetable dishes, especially those using potatoes and cabbage. Leaflets are added to salads, vegetable soups, and chicken broths. This spice is irreplaceable in the cooking of fish dishes and game. Cheese is even flavored with thyme! It is often added to sauces, marinades, fried foods (potatoes, mushrooms, eggplant), and added to the composition of spicy mixtures. Sometimes it is used during the pickling of vegetables such as cucumbers, tomatoes, etc. Thyme can also be prepared as a drink and is often used as a healing tea due to it’s strong aromatic characteristics. Thyme fully reveals its aroma during prolonged heat treatment, so it is placed at the very beginning of preparation, but not on very high heat.
How to choose and store?
When purchasing fresh thyme, it is necessary to check that there are no flaws or dark inclusions in fresh leaves. It can be stored as a bouquet, placed in water. It can stand up to two weeks since Thyme has bactericidal properties. Fresh thyme can also be frozen. Dried Thyme should be stored in a dry, dark place in a tightly closed porcelain or glass bowl.
Use in medicine
Thyme with antiquities was revered as divine grass. The ancient Greeks used it for fainting.