Thyme is an extraordinary herb that grows in the garden and is a fragrant addition to many culinary dishes. If you are new to growing thyme in your garden or enjoy cooking with this herb, knowing when and how to harvest thyme is important.
Thyme has some characteristic varieties such as garden thyme (Thymus vulgaris), lemon thyme (Thymus citriodorus), caraway thyme (Thymus herba-barona) or wool thyme (Thymus psuedolanguinosus). You may want to search your local nurseries for thyme as this plant can be a little difficult to propagate when grown directly from seed. If you have a gardener friend, ask for a clipping from the thyme plant. That's how I started growing my lemon thyme!
Thyme is native to the Mediterranean and is easy to grow, easy to care for and drought tolerant. You should grow thyme in a location with full sun and well-drained sandy soil. Some gardeners grow thyme in containers to bring indoors in winter, or in herb gardens alongside rosemary, oregano, parsley, and sage.
Having direct access to this culinary herb can be exciting, but keep in mind that harvesting thyme at the wrong time or even over-harvesting can cause damage and slow its growth. Harvesting thyme and the occasional prune properly can result in more growth and result in a full, bushy, and happy plant!
In addition to providing tips on harvesting thyme, we cover methods of storing fresh and dried thyme for long-lasting taste. Now is the time to learn more about how to enjoy your bountiful harvest!
When should i harvest thyme?
Once you know how to harvest thyme, it really is a game changer! Source: cookbookman17
First question, how old are your thyme plants? If you are planting thyme in the first year, it is recommended to be very (very!) Sparse and light when harvested. This first year is key for the plants to establish themselves so that you can enjoy wonderful harvests for years to come! Every now and then, take a few small sprigs from the top of the thyme or a few leaves to flavor your dishes. Remember that your plants are still a baby and cannot harvest too much for the first year in the garden.
There are many fun types of thyme to cultivate and they vary in height. We recommend looking at the width of your thyme plant. When the thyme is at least 4 to 5 inches in diameter, it's ripened and ready to harvest!
Fresh thyme can be harvested regularly during the growing season, spring and summer. For the best possible taste of your herbs, cut the cuttings just before or during the flowering of the plants. The best time of the day to harvest thyme is on a sunny morning after the leaves are dry from dew or moisture. The morning offers the most fragrance in thyme. Avoid harvesting in the winter months when the plants are dormant and growing slowly.
If you grow thyme annually or in colder regions outside of the growing areas, it is recommended that you have a larger harvest in your garden just before the first frost. Thyme can tolerate light frosts, but for successful storage and delicious taste, try to harvest at the end of the growing season, before cold temperatures and humidity change.
How to harvest thyme
You will need sterilized secateurs or secateurs when you are ready to harvest your thyme plants. When you harvest thyme, you create an open wound, so clean equipment will help keep your plants healthy. If you pinch or tear off leaves or stems, the damage to your plant can be a vulnerability to disease or infestation (yikes!).
Take young, fresh twigs or leaves with you when you harvest. Avoid cuttings of the woody parts of the plant. These wood cuttings are less fragrant, not ideal for culinary purposes, and an essential ingredient in plant regrowth. Also, avoid harvesting after the plants have sown in the fall. The flavors aren't perfect for cooking. During the summer, you can remove the flowers to prevent them from sowing.
Do not take more than 1/3 of the plant at any time. Thyme lives on the harvest of a branch or two. This light cutting method stimulates growth into a full and bushy shape. At any point during the harvest, make sure your collections are spread out around the plant rather than just picking in one place.
Cut over a leaf knot, this encourages bushier growth and adds more opportunities for future crops!
How to store fresh thyme
Pack your thyme for long-term storage in the freezer. Source: Phönixar
How do we store your freshly harvested thyme? First, resist washing your crops. This will wash away the fragrant oil of your herb. To maximize the thyme flavor, try to use it within the first 3 days after harvest. Let's examine how you can lengthen the taste when you have plenty of herbs.
To maintain freshness, try holding the leaves by the stem during storage. To store in the refrigerator, you can wrap the stems in a damp paper towel and seal them in a plastic bag. This method will keep the thyme fresh for 2 weeks. You can put the stems in a glass with an inch of water to keep them in the refrigerator for longer. This can take up to 3 months in your refrigerator as long as you change the water regularly.
To freeze fresh thyme, you can put your herb straight into a freezer bag. Then you can pick up the tiny leaves whenever you cook and need fresh thyme. Another method of freezing is to remove the leaves from the stem and place them in ice cube trays filled with water. Once the ice cubes are frozen, place them in a freezer bag for further storage. The fresh taste can last 6 months in the freezer.
How to dry thyme
There are several methods of drying thyme, such as: B. using a dehydrator, hanging drying, or air drying. Afterward, when you want to wash off dirt from your herbs, place them on a towel and pat them dry. After rinsing, let them dry completely for at least 2 hours.
Hold the leaves by the stems to dehydrate the food, if you don't, the tiny leaves could fall through the bowls. Preheat the dehydrator to the lowest possible temperature, about 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the cuttings on the trays in one layer. The drying process can take between 1 and 4 hours. So check it regularly. If the leaves are crispy and crumbly, this is an indication that you are done with the drying process. Let the herbs cool for an hour before removing them from the dehydrator.
For hillside drying, use long thyme stems that are at least 6 inches long. Tie 6-8 stems together with string and hang upside down in a warm, dry place out of the sun. Sometimes the leaves fall off the stem during this drying process. If you want to store these tidbits, tie a paper bag over the bundles, use scissors to cut a couple of air vents in the bag to catch those loose thyme leaves. If you have multiple bundles, make sure they are a few inches apart to allow air to circulate. This process takes 2-3 weeks to completely dry the herbs in the desired conditions, when the leaves are dry and crumbly.
If you'd rather dry the thyme leaves without stems, you can put them on parchment paper on a baking sheet. Stir the leaves about every 12 hours and in 2-3 days the leaves will dry.
Storing the dried herbs is the final step! You can place them with the stem or put the leaves in a clean, dry, airtight container. Removing the dried leaves from the stems can be a tedious process as the leaves are fragile and can be crushed.
Put the container in a dark, dry place. You may want to check out the herbs in a few weeks and look for any residual moisture that may have been released in the containers.
frequently asked Questions
There are several ways to dry thyme for long-term storage. Source: Ro’smom
Q: How do you cut thyme?
A: Use sterilized secateurs or shears and cut off a branch several inches long above a leaf knot, or cut off some leaves. Avoid cutting the woody stems.
Q: What do you do with thyme in the fall?
A: After you've harvested your thyme, there are a few options. If you live in zone 4 or a cold region, consider planting thyme in some pot containers that you can bring indoors. Put it in a sunny spot and it will keep growing during the winter season. Or you can cover the thyme plant with plastic if it is outside in the ground. To prepare the plant for wintering outdoors, pile a few inches of mulch and soil around the base of the thyme to keep the roots warm.
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