Gourmet Food Source
More often than not I think thyme is my favourite herb, it is so important in my kitchen for its use in stocks, sauces, braises, soups and some dessert preparations I would be truly lost without it.
Another herb, which can be traced back to the days of the ancient Greeks, it is native to the Mediterranean but has now been naturalized throughout the temperate regions of the world. A member of the mint family, there are some 350 species, varying in size, colour and aroma that are equally as useful as a decorative plant in a border as they are to the cook.
How to Grow
If I had to choose one variety then it would have to be lemon thyme, no contest. I love the aroma and the flavour it imparts in dishes and it is one of the more attractive to use as a garnish or to see in the ornamental garden. Thyme likes full sun and well-drained soil; I have grown it from both direct planting and in seed trays to equal effect. Thyme is slow to germinate; I have found that the plant is best left until the following year before cutting and dividing. Cut back quite vigorously in the spring to encourage healthy growth, any excess cuttings can be dried and incorporated into a bouquet garni or pot pourri. Thyme needs regular cutting; left alone it becomes woody and quite useless, I find it has a three to four year shelf life before I have to dig it up and replace with fresh, young plants.
How to Cook
I use thyme extensively in the kitchen; it pairs with so many other flavours and is an essential to any bouquet garni. Try roasting it with meats and fish or roast potatoes, surprisingly good with raspberries it makes an excellent sorbet or as a flavouring for fruit dishes and custards.
Content and picture © Miles Collins