I'm thinking that many of you may be more familiar with thyme's reference in the Simon & Garfunkel song than you are with actually using this herb in your kitchen. Well, we're going to change that because thyme not only adds complexity and flavor to a multitude of dishes, but can benefit your heart and immune system in a number of ways. Not to mention that more and more people are beginning to re-adopt the more traditional plant forms of medicine, and aromatic plants like thyme are high on the list of herbs to have on hand.
An Interesting History
Thyme has been used for thousands of years for a variety of different purposes:
- Ancient Egyptians used it in their embalming formula.
- The Greeks used it to scent bathwater and burned it as incense.
- The Romans used it to give flavor to cheese and alcoholic beverages.
- In the Middle Ages it was thought to give courage. Many noble women would give sachets containing thyme to knights.
- It has been used to scent drawers full of lingerie.
- It has been hung from the rafters to keep away evil spirits.
Most importantly for our purposes, thyme has also been traditionally used as a powerful medicinal ingredient.
For a Healthy Heart
Flavonoids offer amazing benefits as antioxidants and have shown to aid in the prevention of disease by inhibiting the excess formation of blood clots. This makes thyme valuable in helping to prevent heart disease and stroke. It has also been shown to assist with hypertension by helping to reduce blood pressure and reduce general inflammation.
Thyme is one of the aromatic plants that has potent anti-microbial and anti-parasitic activity and can therefore fight internal bacteria infections and even tame bronchitis.
It has also show to be very effective for external bacterial issues such as acne when used as a tincture or topical ointment.
Recent studies have suggested that thyme also has fungicidal properties and can help to fight mold and air pollutants in your home.
Mosquitoes Be Gone!
This strong smelling herb is a great natural way to repel mosquitoes and other insects. Thyme essential oil can be diluted and sprayed on the skin or you can simply even rub the leaves between your palms to release the oil.
A Tasty All-Star Ingredient
Thyme can obviously be purchased dried, for long-term use on your spice rack, but whenever possible, purchase it fresh (or grow it in your garden!) as it is superior in nutrients and richer in flavor.
Unlike other herbs, thyme can withstand high heat and will retain its entire herbaceous flavor no matter how you cook it.
Recipe-wise, thyme pairs best with foods that have a somewhat more neutral flavor, since this herb is so bold and bright. It goes amazingly well with all variations of potatoes, especially with these Scalloped Potatoes & Onions. It's also wonderful on Roast Pork or Roasted Chicken. I even love to add a pinch to my morning eggs for a little boost.
So whether you're hoping to calm a pesky cough, treat a stomach bug, heal your skin, or simply add stupendous flavor to a roast, sauce or soup, thyme is the perfect choice!