Storing Thyme – Drying Fresh Thyme After Harvesting

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Thyme is one of the most versatile herbs, with a variety of cultivars and flavors. It grows quickly in sunny, hot conditions but can also withstand cold winters. The woody stemmed herb has small leaves that add flavor to recipes and an aromatic touch to sachets and aromatherapy treatments. Knowing how to dry thyme can help you preserve the fresh delightful scent and flavor of this herb for easy home use.

How to Harvest Thyme

Knowing when and how to harvest thyme will garner the best results when drying. Woody stemmed herbs are best harvested just before blooming for peak flavor. Cut the stems for drying fresh thyme, just before a growth node. This will increase bushing and ensure a constant supply of the tasty leaves. Morning is the best time of day for harvesting thyme.

How to Dry Thyme

After harvesting thyme, wash it and shake off the excess water. You can choose to dry the entire stem or remove the tiny leaves. The leaves will dry more quickly off the stem but they will remove more easily from an already dried piece of the herb.

To remove the leaves, pinch the end of the stem with your thumb and forefinger and pull up the stalk. The leaves will fall off. Remove any of the peripheral twigs and proceed with drying fresh thyme.

Drying Fresh Thyme in a Dehydrator

There are several ways you can dry your herbs. Drying fresh thyme in a food dehydrator is fast and protects against possible mold. The moisture in herbs that are drying in the necessary warm conditions may cause the formation of mold if too much humidity is in the area. To dry thyme in a dehydrator, lay the stems in a single layer on the racks that come with the unit. The stems will dry in under two days and can be stripped of the leaves.

How to Dry Thyme by Hanging

Traditionally, many herbs were dried by hanging. This is still a useful practice today and requires no special equipment. Take stems and bundle them together. Tie the bundles and hang them where the temperatures are at least 50 F. (10 C.) and humidity is low. Stems may take a week or more to dry .

Other Methods of Drying Fresh Thyme

Drying the leaves is the quickest method of preserving the herb. Once the leaves are separated from the stem, you can just lay them on a cookie sheet. Stir them up after half a day. The leaves will be completely dry in just a couple of days.

Storing Thyme

Storing thyme correctly will preserve its essence and flavor. Put the dried herb in an airtight container in a dim to dark area. Light and moisture will degrade the herb’s flavor.

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How to Grow Thyme – How to Cultivate Thyme – Caring for thyme, watering, lighting, heating and harvesting Thyme

How to Grow Thyme – How to Cultivate Thyme – Caring for thyme, watering, lighting, heating and harvesting Thyme

Thyme (Thymus species)

A decorative addition to an indoor garden, thyme thrives on a sunny windowsill and can be harvested from spring to autumn. Add the leaves to soups, sauces, fish, and meat dishes

How to Grow Thyme – How to Cultivate Thyme – Caring for thyme, watering, lighting, heating and harvesting Thyme

When to buy or sow thyme

Young plants are available all year, but if you buy in winter don’t harvest the leaves until spring when new growth appears. Repot plants with crowded roots into slightly larger containers filled with commercial potting mix, with added sand or perlite.

Light & heat of thyme

Hailing from the Mediterranean, thyme needs a sunny location to succeed it likes warmth in summer, but keep it in cooler conditions in winter. Increase the ventilation by opening your windows whenever possible. This is a hardy plant that will also be happy year-round on a windowsill outside or a sunny balcony.

How to Watering Thyme

Like all Mediterranean herbs, thyme may rot in waterlogged soil. Plant it in a pot with drainage holes to maintain the correct moisture level, and water only when the top of the mix feels dry.

Aftercare for Thyme
Real Thyme

Feed every two weeks from spring to early autumn with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer for leafy crops. Repot every year or two in spring in a 3:1 mix of potting mix and sand or perlite.

How do you harvest thyme so it keeps growing?

Harvest a few leaves from each plant at any one time from early spring to late autumn. Although thyme is an evergreen shrub, leave the plant to rest in winter.

Best indoor varieties Buy a selection of thymes to provide a wealth of colourful foliage on a windowsill, as well as leaves for cooking. Some forms, such as lemon thymes, have distinctive aromas, while low-lying creeping types look pretty trailing from wide, shallow containers.


(Thymus serpyllum) Grow this thyme, with its highly scented spiky leaves and pink flowers, in a wide, shallow pot, and use the leaves in stews and casseroles. Height & spread: 4 x 12in (10 x 30cm)

GOLDEN LEMON THYME (Thymus X citriodora) The golden, lemon-scented leaves of this thyme are perfect for chicken and fish recipes. Height & spread: 10 x 10in (25 x 25cm)


(Thymus X citriodora) This thyme has white, variegated leaves that make a beautiful display. The leaves have a refreshing citrus flavour. Height & spread: 4 x 8in (10 x 20cm)


(Thymus ‘Coccineus Group’) This mat-forming thyme is ideal for the edge of a big pot with a tall herb, such as sage, in the centre. It produces pink flowers in early summer. Use in meat and fish dishes. Height & spread: 4 x 8in (10 x 20cm)


(Thymus vulgaris) This plain green variety is easy to grow, and the traditional flavour of its leaves is ideal for meat and fish dishes. Height & spread: 12 x 12in (30 x 30cm)


(Thymus ‘Silver Posie’) Bushy, creeping thyme, with white-edged grey-green leaves and purple to white flowers in late spring and early summer. Use in bouquets Garni, stuffings, and sauces. Height & spread: 12 x 12in (30 x 30cm)

Boosting flavour

Scatter thyme leaves over roast meats and fish to boost their flavour. Add to bouquets garnish with parsley and bay leaves for casseroles and stews. Sprinkle a little over feta and honey for a Greek-inspired pancake topping. Mix lemon thyme leaves with olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, seasoning, and a little sugar to make a zesty vinaigrette for vegetables.

Crush thyme leaves with sea salt flakes and sprinkles over potatoes or leafy greens. Thyme is a great partner for chicken or turkey sprinkle some roughly chopped fresh leaves on top of the bird just before roasting it, or add the leaves to the stuffing mix.

Thyme Related Questions

Easy to grow, little care is needed after the first year of thyme without regular light pruning. Do this after last spring frost, so that the trees do not become woody and brittle.

What is the best way to grow thyme?

How to grow thyme

  1. Soil: Plant thyme in well-drained soil with an optimal pH between dra.0 to 6.0. …
  2. Sun: You need a growing region with plenty of sunlight. …
  3. Water: Most varieties of thyme are drought-tolerant, so do not irrigate completely until the soil is completely dry.

Can I grow thyme from cuttings?

Cuttings can also be taken in late spring to propagate additional thyme trees. Take your thyme cut to the node of the stem to a point where the leaves are attached. … Remove the lower leaves, then place the cut edge in a container of moist loamy soil or vermiculite or perlite.

How long does thyme take to grow?

14 to 28 days

Thymus vulgaris, common thyme is a shrub-shaped perennial plant. Growing from seed is easy, but germination is slow and takes 14-28 days. It is best to sow indoors in an apartment where the temperature can be kept around 70 °. Thyme seeds are very low, 170,000 per ounce.

Does thyme come back every year?

Most shrubs are perennials in most parts of the United States, meaning they return year after year and usually grow or spread in the area each year. Most of our used cooking herbs are perennials, including ren, oregano and thyme.

Why is my thyme dying?

Water pressure

Thyme grows well in a slightly dry land. If it is too wet it can develop root rot or mould problems. As the roots become stunted and die in moist soil, so do the leaves. Drought and excessively dry leaves can also cause dieback, although the whole plant usually declines at the same rate.

Is thyme invasive?

I should mention that most mint families will become quite cunning if they are let go. Mint, oregano, pennywort and even thyme will spread through underground runners and can quickly occupy the garden. These can be difficult to remove because the small pieces of roots left behind can turn into hard plants.

How often do you water thyme?

Water the thyme plants to a depth of 1 inch every 10 to 15 days in the summer months. Stop watering in early autumn a few weeks before the first rains. Drought lasts more than two to three weeks only when there is very little rainfall in winter. In this case, 1 inch of water every 10 to 15 days.

Does Thyme spread in the garden?

Thyme, however, is generally less growing, spreading and 6-10 inches long. … If you are trying to cover a large area, the promise of new trees will be around 6 inches. Established thyme trees can be harvested at any time because the smell of the leaves can be retained even after flowering.

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Simple Methods of Drying Thyme at Home

There are several methods for drying thyme at home.

Hang dry

  • Tie the stems all together with a string and hang the bundle upside-down from an elevated place.
  • Hang the thyme bundles in a room with low humidity. Do not dry the bundles under the sun because doing so will make the leaves lose a lot of their color and flavor.
  • You can also place a small bag underneath to catch the dry leaves that fall. Make sure it has a few holes around the top to allow air to pass.

The good thing about this process is that you don’t need any fancy equipment, saving you a bit of cash. However, the process may take around one to two weeks.

Drying on paper towels

If you don’t have that much time and a little bit of change to spare, you can place the leaves on a sheet of parchment paper spread on a cookie sheet.

Shake it every 12 hours and the leaves will be dry in a couple of days. It’s a faster method of drying thyme and with a minimal cost.

Drying thyme in the dehydrator

An even faster alternative of drying thyme would be using a food dehydrator. Not only does it dry the leaves faster, it can even prevent molds from growing while drying. With the right temperature set, you can dry the leaves in less than a day (usually it takes about 6 to 12 hours to dehydrate thyme).

You’ll know that it’s ready when the leaves easily crumble.

Yes, a food dehydrator may be expensive but it is very handy especially for those who need to dry leaves quickly.

Drying thyme in the microwave

In the event that you’re in a real rush to get dry thyme, you can use the microwave.

  • Place the leaves in a microwaveable container and replace the lid. Make sure that the seal is airtight.
  • Turn on the microwave and blast the thyme leaves on high heat for 30 seconds. Check the eaves and repeat the process.
  • If after one minute the leaves aren’t dry, you can nuke them again on high for another thirty seconds, continue heating the leaves in the microwave using thirty-second bursts until the thyme is dry enough to your liking.

When you do choose to use the microwave, it is advisable that you check on the leaves constantly.

f you see small wisps of smoke coming out of the thyme leaves, you need to stop immediately.

Drying thyme isn’t that hard, and now that the leaves are dry, it’s time you used or store them for future use. If it’s the latter, here are a few ways to do it correctly and save its flavor for later.

How to store dried thyme

Store dried thyme in airtight containers such as re-sealable bags or plastic containers with air-tight lids. If you don’t like using plastic, glass jars that have covers with rubber seals will do the trick.

Hide it from the sun

Do not place the container under direct sunlight. Why? Exposing the already dried out herb to sunlight will cause the leaves to lose their potent flavor. You need to use dark-colored jars or opaque containers to block out the sun’s rays.

Stay cool and dry

You can place the container in a cool and dry area like a cellar or a cupboard. You can also place the thyme in the vegetable storage space in your refrigerator however, you need to make sure that the leaves are in an air-tight container to prevent the humidity from getting in contact with the dried leaves. Placing the thyme in the refrigerator will extend its shelf life.

When stored properly, dried thyme will be good for a year or two that is, if you haven’t used it all up before then. Label the container with the time and date it was dried and stored so that you have an idea when to replace with freshly-dried leaves.

Herbs will last longer and have a stronger flavor when it is stored whole.

So think before you chop, if you need the leaves right away and might use it frequently then by all means grind it or chop it to smaller pieces before storing it. But if you don’t see yourself using as much as you’ve harvested, maybe it would be a better idea to store it whole.

Congratulations! You now know how everything that’s needed for drying thyme at home.

Thyme Varieties

If you want something a little different from common thyme (T. vulgaris), here are a few varieties often planted:

  • Golden lemon thyme (Thymus x citriodorus 'Aureus'): This thyme has a true lemon scent in addition to the minty quality of thyme and boasts golden, variegated leaves.
  • Woolly thyme (Thymus pseudolanuginosus): A very soft, flat spreading carpet, this variety has no scent, so it's not used for cooking. It cascades nicely in rock gardens and can grow in patio cracks.
  • Caraway thyme (Thymus herba-barona): This varietal is low-growing, with pale pink flowers and the scent of caraway.
  • Creeping thyme (Thymus praecox): True to its name, this variety grows as a low mat, only two to three inches tall, with pink, magenta, lavender, or white flowers. It's often used as a ground cover.

When To Harvest Herbs

When you harvest herbs depends on three things:

  1. What part of the herb you’re planning to use or preserve. Do you only need the flower, or do you want the leaf or root?
  2. What you’re using the herb for. Do you plan on drying it, or using it fresh?
  3. The life cycle of the herb. Do you need to harvest before your herbs grow buds and flower?

Once you’ve established which part of the herb you need and what you’re using it for, all you have to do is wait for your herbs to ripen for the picking.

How to Dry & Store Thyme

Fresh is always best! The powerful oils in thyme are key to the herb. For fresh thyme, lightly wrap the plant in plastic and store it in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

If you are going to be using dried thyme, it must be done so carefully to preserve the oils. Bundle the thyme with string and hang in a warm, dark, well-ventilated room out of direct sunlight. Alternatively, place the herb on a tray with wax paper and dry. Once dried, store in a clean, sterilized, airtight container for up to two years. Crush the herb just before using.

Both fresh and dry herbs should be covered in storage to help retain the oils. The more oil, the more powerful and useful your thyme will be!

Watch the video: ΑΕΙΦΟΡΙΑ-Θυμάρι-Thymus vulgaris-thyme

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