Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Herbs : Thyme

Thyme has been prized since ancient times for its medicinal uses.  Native to the Mediterranean region, it was brought to Britain by the Romans.  Long before this, the Egyptians used thyme oil in their embalming process.

It has long been considered an aphrodisiac, and legend has it that thyme was once considered an essential ingredient in making a magic brew that would allow the drinker to see fairies.

Health benefits of Thyme

At they give these health benefits :
  • Relieves respiratory problems such as cough, chest congestion, bronchitis.
  • Antimicrobial properties against bacteria (two of which are Staphalococcus aureus and E. coli) that cause a host of different problems and infections.
  • Considered an excellent remedy for fatigue because of its high iron content.  If you’re suffering from anemia, add thyme to your meals and to a cup of tea to rejuvenate your body.

Growing Thyme

Thyme loves hot, dry conditions and almost grows itself.  Because it spreads easily it's ideal for planting in rock gardens and can easily be cultivated in pots.  Here are a couple of videos on how to grow thyme.

Uses for Thyme

As well as frequently used in cooking, thyme has also long be used as an insect repellent.

If you have ants in your home, placing a few sprigs in the corner of the room will keep them away.  And pouring a cup of thyme tea into a plant mister and spraying this liquid around your doorways and windows in the summer will keep bugs from invading your home.

You can also mix some crushed thyme in with your body lotion to make a natural mosquito repellent.

And adding a few sprigs of thyme to your table centerpiece will allow you to enjoy your outdoor meals without  being "bugged".

If you don't have access to fresh thyme, there are also products containing thyme that can give you the same benefits as well as a few others such as skin softening and even help with stretch marks.

Cooking with Thyme

Often used in conjunction with other herbs and spices, thyme can also stand quite nicely on it's own, as these two recipes show.

Simple and Delicious Thyme Marinade

This recipe imparts a fantastic flavour to any seafood, chicken or fish.  Above it is used with salmon.

Ingredients :

-  1/2 cup honey, maple syrup or your sweetener or choice
-  1/2 cup olive oil
-  1 tablespoon dried thyme or a few crushed sprigs of fresh
-  1 tablespoon of chopped garlic

Place all ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat until the mixture bubbles and foams, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat and pour into a glass jar or bowl.  Cool and refrigerate until needed.

Carrot and Orange Soup with Thyme

This soup is so simple to make and really doesn't need a recipe.  It's  just a variation of the vegetable soups I showed you in my chicken stock post. Just cook a bunch of chopped carrots until they are really soft.  Put these into a blender or food processor, add the zest and juice of a large orange, and then puree, adding chicken broth until the soup is the consistency you prefer.  Add a tablespoon of chopped thyme and heat.  Serve with a drizzele of heavy or sour cream and a few sprigs of thyme.  So simple to make, yet beautiful enough to serve at any dinner party.

For today's inspirational garden here is a photo of the garden at Highgrove, the English home of Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales.  The thyme walk was especially created so that you would brush against the plants as you walked down the path, releasing the heavenly scent.  A beautiful idea that could easily be copied even in a small garden.

"Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise."
                                                                                                                            - Henry Mitchell

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