Thyme
 
 
Herbs
   

Thyme
Thymus Vulgaris

 

   

A garden herb. There are about a hundred varieties of thyme, but the most common ones are lemon thyme, Caraway thyme, and Common thyme. Thyme tea can help alleviate an asthma attack.

Thyme is a commonly used culinary herb. It is one of the components of Bouquet Garni (French for Garnished Bouquet) - which is actually a bunch of herbs strung together, mainly for preparation of soups, stock, broth, and stews. Bouquet garni is normally tied together, so that it is easily removed once the dish is cooked. Bouquet Garni normally consists of thyme, parsley, and bay leaves. But some cooks like to also add a combination of basil, rosemary, carrots, leeks, and onions.

Health Benefits of Thyme

2 teaspoons of thyme (about 3 gms) has vitamin K (60 per cent of RDA), iron (20 per cent of RDA), manganese (10 per cent of RDA), and calcium (5 per cent of RDA). Apart from the the common vitamins and minerals, thyme has volatile oil components that researchers are discovering many health benefits. These volatile oil components are: carvacolo, borneol, geraniol, and thymol.

Thymol is the primary volatile oil components of the thyme herb - and research tests on mice have shown that thymol can protect and increase healthy fats in cell membranes and cell structures.

These volatile oil components also exhibit anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties against Staphalococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis, E. coli and Shigella sonnei. Shigella sonnei is a bacteria that causes diarrhea. Washing vegetables and fruits with just 1 per cent of thymol essential oil added to the wash, dropped the number of Shigella bacteria below detection point. Scientists are now trying to develop natural food preservatives based on thyme essential oils.

Thyme is often used to flavour meats, soups, broths, and stews. But apart from its culinary uses, you can also steep thyme leaves in hot water, and it makes a refreshing herbal tea.

Thyme tea has been used to alleviate menstrual cramps, and PMS symptoms. Thyme tea has also been known to be helpful for stomach upsets, coughs, and fevers.

Allergic reaction to thyme is unlikely. But if alergic reactions start to show (eg. rash, itching, red spots, swelling, dizziness, difficulty in breathing), discontinue consumption, and seek medical attention immediately.

Selection and Storage

Fresh thyme is recommended over dried thyme due to its better flavour.

Store dried thyme in an air-tight container (preferably a glass bottle or container) away from the sun. It should be kept in a cool and dry location.

You should store fresh thyme in the refrigerator (wrapped in a lightly moistened paper towel).

When used for cooking, thyme should be added when the dish is almost cooked, as this will bring out the best of its aromatic qualities. This is due to thyme being heat-sensitive, and prolonged exposure to high heat will kill thyme's delicate flavour.

<Editor's note: This page is dedicated to my pal, Derrick C. (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), whose favourite herb is thyme, and I hope will prepare an Italian dish with thyme and other yummy herbs, and invite me over for a sample of his culinary creations. >

 

 

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Last update: 20 Feb 2007

 
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