Thyme is one of the finest culinary herbs, at home in almost any dish. It is widely used in European cooking, especially French, but is sadly under appreciated here at home. The flavor is fresh and peppery, with floral, pine and citrus notes in varying degrees. Thyme is hardy in gardens almost everywhere across the country, and fresh thyme always is available in supermarkets. While thyme dries well, the fresh flavor is better preserved by freezing.
Things You'll Need
- 40 stems fresh thyme (or as many as you have)
- Paper towels
- Small or medium zipper-seal freezer bags
- Freezer-safe plastic container
- Ice cube tray (optional)
- Light olive oil (optional)
Rinse the sprigs of thyme well in clean, cold water. Shake off any excess moisture, and pat them dry between sheets of paper towel.
Lay the thyme flat on three layers of clean, dry paper towel, about 3/4 the width of your freezer bag. Cover with another three layers of paper towel. The towels will absorb any remaining moisture, protecting the thyme.
Slide the thyme and paper towels carefully into the freezer bag. Seal the "zipper" at least 3/4 of the way, then press flat to expel as much air as possible. Close the seal.
Freeze the thyme flat on a sheet pan or plate, then store in a rigid container to prevent crushing. To use, strip the leaves from the stems by sliding each stem between a thumb and forefinger. Substitute frozen for fresh thyme in any recipe.
Freeze herbs in water or light olive oil, as an alternative technique. Place 1 tbsp. of chopped herbs in each cup of an ice cube tray, and cover with oil or water. This provides an extra degree of protection, but is not as necessary with thyme as it is with other herbs.
Tips & Warnings
- The same technique can be applied to any other woody herbs, such as lavender, rosemary or bay leaves.
- "On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, Revised Second Edition"; Harold S. McGee, 2004
- Purdue University Indiana 4-H Program: Freezing Fresh Herbs
- Photo Credit John Foxx/Stockbyte/Getty Images
How to Freeze Fresh Herbs
Most herbs are simple to freeze. Smaller plants like thyme (tanacetum vulgare) can be frozen on the stem, and basil (ocimum basilicum)...
How to Dry Fresh Thyme
Why buy expensive jars of thyme when it is less expensive and very easy to dry your own? Follow a few instructions...
How do I Make Lemon Thyme Tea?
Lemon thyme is closely related to other thyme varieties including English thyme, but it has a vastly different taste and fragrance. It...
How to Freeze Fresh Herbs in Ice Cube Trays
Preserve your fresh summer herbs, such as basil, oregano, cilantro, rosemary and thyme, into the winter by freezing them in ice cube...
How to Harvest and Store Thyme
Low-growing and aromatic evergreen herbs reaching only 1 to 18 inches tall, thymes (Thymus spp.) vary in hardiness from U.S. Department of...