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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Definitely Worth the Effort: Dried Thyme

In these hectic modern days, it seems every decision is a cost-benefit analysis... is the end result worth the time it takes to do it yourself? In many cases, the answer is yes for me, especially when it comes to the kitchen. However, sometimes, life starts making some of those decisions for you. The other day I mentioned how we had to leave our little Ohio farm behind a few years ago. When I had my farm, I don't think I ever purchased store bought herbs for any reason... I grew them all myself.

Now days, I have to be a little more selective about what I plant. I currently have only 64 square feet to work with. That's less than one half a percent of the garden space I had in Ohio. This deficiency leads to some hard choices. Which crops are so much better home grown that they deserve some of that tiny little space? While I grow a number of fresh herbs in pots on my patio, I've recently realized that growing a few thyme bushes in my garden so I can have enough to dry my own is definitely worth the effort.

I came to this realization when I bought some thyme at the grocery store a few months back. Can you tell in the picture above which I bought and which I grew? Yeah, me too. Today, while I was shopping for some spices, I saw a jar of ground thyme that was brown. I may be mistaken, but I'm pretty sure thyme isn't supposed to be brown. One other benefit of home dried thyme? It actually smells like thyme. I know, you've probably started to forget that dried thyme actually has an aroma, haven't you?

Fortunately, thyme is super easy to grow. In fact, in Ohio, I started regretting planting all five thyme plants because by the third year, I had more thyme than I could eat, store, or sell. Drying thyme is also easy. I use my dehydrator because it dries it so quickly, which helps to retain that beautiful green color, but you could dry yours just as easily in an low oven or simply hanging in a warm, dry place. Once it's dried and stripped from the stems, it will last for years in an air tight container, provided you protect it from too much light exposure.

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