Dried thyme is whole dried thyme leaves. Rubbed thyme is dried thyme that has been rubbed into a powder. Rubbed thyme is rubbed directly onto foods like chicken, fish or vegetables before roasting. Dried thyme is most often added to soups, stews, oils and vinegars. There are over a hundred varieties of thyme, including ones with the scent or flavor of lemon, orange, caraway or mint. Drying is an easy way to preserve thyme. Rubbed thyme takes up less room than whole dried leaves, but thyme is a very small plant with small leaves anyway.
How to Dry Thyme
Snip off fresh thyme springs close to the base of the plant. Tie several sprigs together with thread or jute. Hang the bundles upside-down in a warm, dry and well-ventilated location for seven to 10 days. Store the dried sprigs whole in a large jar. You can also strip the leaves off the stems. Hold the sprig in one hand. With the other hand, run your thumb and fingers from the base to the top of the sprig. If you strip the leaves before storing, the dried thyme will be easier to use. Store dried thyme in airtight glass jars in a cool, dark place.
How to Rub Thyme
Rub small quantities of dried thyme with your fingers. Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder for larger quantities. Rub the thyme until it becomes a fine powder. Rubbed thyme takes up less room than dried thyme but whole dried thyme leaves retain their flavor longer. If you are making an herb blend with rubbed thyme, you will save time by making a batch that will last up to a few months. Store in airtight glass jars in a cool, dark place.
Using Dried Thyme
Tie whole dried thyme sprigs together with string and drop whole into the pot of soup or stew. Remove the bundle of herbs before serving. You can also add just the dried leaves to soups, stews and sautéed or roasted vegetables. Add whole leaves or crush them lightly with your fingers to release more flavor. Whole dried thyme leaves will swell to their full size when they are reconstituted in soup or stew. Add thyme to savory herb or olive bread. Combine with lemon in cakes, pastries and other desserts. Dried thyme also eases coughs, sore throats, bronchial spasms and respiratory congestion. Steep 1 tsp. of dried thyme in water for 15 minutes.
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Using Rubbed Thyme
Use rubbed thyme when you want to blend all the herbs and spices as much as possible. Blend rubbed thyme with other herbs and spices to make a dry powder you can rub onto chicken, fish or vegetables. You can add rubbed thyme directly to soups and stews but use about a quarter of the quantity of dried thyme. Use rubbed thyme when you do not want the whole leaves to be apparent.
- “The Joy of International Cooking”; Marie-Christine Conte (trans.); 1974
- “The Herb Companion”; Cooking With Thyme; Susan Belsinger; April/May 1997
- Richters.com: Thyme Search
Lisa Jensen grows organic food and lives in an adobe house that she built. She teaches aikido, is an experienced back-country skier and backpacker and is active in her community. A graduate of the University of Calgary, Jensen writes about gardening, home projects, social sciences and sports and recreation.