Herbs: Fresh Thyme vs. Dried Thyme

Raw Organic Green Thyme
Sprigs of fresh thyme on a cutting board. (Image: bhofack2/iStock/Getty Images)

Thyme leaves give your foods a minty and tealike flavor.You can use fresh or dried thyme to achieve this effect, but you’ll need to use different amounts of fresh versus dried thyme. You also add thyme to your dishes at different times depending on which form you use.

Amounts

You need different amounts of fresh versus dry thyme in recipes. For example, 2 tsp. fresh snipped thyme is equivalent to 1/4 tsp. crushed dried thyme, according to the “Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book,” by Tricia Laning. To keep it simple, as a general rule of thumb, use this formula: 1 tsp. dried herbs is equal to 1 tbsp. fresh herbs.

Time Frame

If you are using dried thyme in a dish, add it early in the cooking process. It requires more exposure to moisture and heat to release its flavor. If you are using fresh thyme, do the opposite. Adding thyme at the tail end of your cooking process ensures the heat won’t destroy the thyme’s aroma or flavor.

Storage

Store fresh thyme in your refrigerator for up to seven days. Wrap it in a paper towel that’s slightly damp. Alternately, snip the end of the thyme’s stem and put it in a glass jar in 1 inch of water. Seal this with a plastic bag. Dried thyme has a shelf life of about six months once the container is open. Store it in a tightly sealed glass container that’s in a dark, cool and dry place. Write the purchase date on the bottom of your dried thyme container to keep track of when to replace it.

Considerations

Fresh thyme is superior to dried thyme in both flavor and aroma, according to Michael T. Murray, lead author of “The Encyclopedia of Healing Foods.” Nutritionally, thyme contains numerous flavonoids that make it an antioxidant-rich food. It also has volatile oils that have antibacterial, antispasmodic and carminative, or gas relieving, properties. Depending on the method, thyme retains much of its volatile oil and antioxidant content when dried. Flow drying is the best method for preserving nutritional content, whereas oven-drying is the worst, according to the book “Thyme” by Elisabeth Stahl-Biskup and Francisco Sáez.

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