Thyme

Cannabis Ginger Sichuan pepper
Thyme
Thyme-Bundle.jpg
A bundle of thyme
Food energy
(per 100 g serving)
101 kcal (423 kJ)
Nutritional value
(per 100 g serving)
Proteing
Fat1.7 g
Carbohydrate24 g

Thyme (/tm/) is the herb (dried aerial parts) of some members of the genus Thymus of aromatic perennial evergreen herbs in the mint family Lamiaceae. Thymes are relatives of the oregano genus Origanum. They have culinary, medicinal, and ornamental uses, and the species most commonly cultivated and used for culinary purposes is Thymus vulgaris.

History

Flowering thyme

Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming.[1] The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing it was a source of courage. The spread of thyme throughout Europe was thought to be due to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavour to cheese and liqueurs".[2] In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares.[3] In this period, women also often gave knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves, as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals, as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.[4]

The name of the genus of fish Thymallus, first given to the grayling (T. thymallus, described in the 1758 edition of Systema Naturae by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus), originates from the faint smell of thyme that emanates from the flesh.[5]

Cultivation

Thyme is best cultivated in a hot, sunny location with well-drained soil. It is generally planted in the spring, and thereafter grows as a perennial. It can be propagated by seed, cuttings, or dividing rooted sections of the plant. It tolerates drought well.[6] The plants can take deep freezes and are found growing wild on mountain highlands.

Culinary use

Seombaengnihyang-cha (Ulleungdo thyme tea)

In some Levantine countries, and Assyria, the condiment za'atar (Arabic for both thyme and marjoram) contains many of the essential oils found in thyme. It is a common component of the bouquet garni, and of herbes de Provence.

Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. While summer-seasonal, fresh greenhouse thyme is often available year-round. The fresh form is more flavourful, but also less convenient; storage life is rarely more than a week. However, the fresh form can last many months if carefully frozen.[7]

Fresh thyme is commonly sold in bunches of sprigs. A sprig is a single stem snipped from the plant. It is composed of a woody stem with paired leaf or flower clusters ("leaves") spaced 12 to 1 inch (13 to 25 mm) apart. A recipe may measure thyme by the bunch (or fraction thereof), or by the sprig, or by the tablespoon or teaspoon. Dried thyme is widely used in Armenia in tisanes (called urc).

Depending on how it is used in a dish, the whole sprig may be used (e.g., in a bouquet garni), or the leaves removed and the stems discarded. Usually, when a recipe specifies "bunch" or "sprig", it means the whole form; when it specifies spoons, it means the leaves. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute dried for whole thyme.

Leaves may be removed from stems either by scraping with the back of a knife, or by pulling through the fingers or tines of a fork.

Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs.

Antimicrobial properties

Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) essential oil

Oil of thyme, the essential oil of common thyme (Thymus vulgaris), contains 20–54% thymol.[8] Thyme essential oil also contains a range of additional compounds, such as p-cymene, myrcene, borneol, and linalool.[9] Thymol, an antiseptic, is an active ingredient in various commercially produced mouthwashes such as Listerine.[10] Before the advent of modern antibiotics, oil of thyme was used to medicate bandages.[2]

Important species and cultivars

Variegated lemon thyme

References

  1. ^ "A Brief History of Thyme - Hungry History". HISTORY.com. Archived from the original on 2016-06-13. Retrieved 2016-06-09.
  2. ^ a b Grieve, Mrs. Maud. "Thyme. A Modern Herbal". botanical.com (Hypertext version of the 1931 ed.). Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. Retrieved February 9, 2008.
  3. ^ Huxley, A., ed. (1992). New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. Macmillan.
  4. ^ "Thyme (thymus)". englishplants.co.uk. The English Cottage Garden Nursery. Archived from the original on 2006-09-27.
  5. ^ Ingram, A.; Ibbotson, A.; Gallagher, M. "The Ecology and Management of the European Grayling Thymallus thymallus (Linnaeus)" (PDF). East Stoke, Wareham, U.K.: Institute of Freshwater Ecology. p. 3. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2014-02-28. Retrieved 2014-02-27.
  6. ^ "Herb File. Global Garden". global-garden.com.au. Archived from the original on 2007-10-12.
  7. ^ "Food Storage - How Long Can You Keep Thyme". Archived from the original on 2015-08-09. Retrieved 2015-08-18.
  8. ^ Thymus Vulgaris. PDR for Herbal Medicine. Montvale, NJ: Medical Economics Company. p. 1184.
  9. ^ Borugă, O.; Jianu, C.; Mişcă, C.; Goleţ, I.; Gruia, A.; Horhat, F. (2014). "Thymus vulgaris essential oil: chemical composition and antimicrobial activity". Journal of Medicine and Life. 7 (Spec Iss 3): 56–60. PMC 4391421. PMID 25870697.
  10. ^ Pierce, Andrea. 1999. American Pharmaceutical Association Practical Guide to Natural Medicines. New York: Stonesong Press. P. 338–340.
  11. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2015-09-29. Retrieved 2015-09-28.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ "French Thyme, Thymus vulgaris". Sand Mountain Herbs. Archived from the original on 2014-05-27. Retrieved 2014-05-27.
  13. ^ "English thyme". Sara's Superb Herbs. Archived from the original on 2012-02-09.