Although Thyme (Thymus vulgaris) has a place of pride in the Phytofarm garden in November we enjoyed a road trip south to gather some wild thyme from the barren hills of central Otago. This aromatic, perennial, evergreen plant of the Lamiaceae family rises from the sunbaked earth with a carpet fine purple-white haze of blossoms – the perfect time to harvest the flowering tips. The harsh conditions of this area makes these thyme plants especially robust. A plant that has a history as far back as 3000 BC, when it was considered a soothing wound dressing. During the black death plague of the 13th century thyme was used for embalming the dead and “nose gays” masks containing thyme were worn to protect from the spread of this deadly bacterium. The 16th century herbalist Nicholas Culpeper noted that thyme was “a noble strengthener of the lungs.“
Thymol is the active anti-septic ingredient of the thyme plant. Thyme is packed with vitamin C, a good source of vitamin A and has antibacterial, insecticidal, anti-fungal and anti-oxidant properties effective at reducing inflammation. A relaxant for smooth muscle spasms, such as coughing, working as an expectorant (a substance that loosens mucus) keeping the lungs and chest clear, encouraging breathing and helping dry throats. From a culinary perspective thyme shakes up your spice rack, it is a tasty addition to casseroles, wok cooked vegetables and an essential ingredient of Bouquet Garni.
A bundle of herbs used to slowly flavour cooked dishes. Traditionally made from 3-4 sprigs of parsley, thyme and bay leaf.
- Honey 1 table spoon
- Thyme leaf & flower 10gms (Dried, 5gms fresh)
- Small Cinnamon Stick
- Ginger (dried) 1/4 Cup
- Water 1 Cup
Add the ginger to the cup of water and bring to the boil, turn off the heat and leave stand for 5 minutes. Add the cinnamon stick, thyme leaf and flower to the ginger water infuse for a further 5 minutes. Strain the liquid and add the table spoon of honey and mix well. Bottle while mixture is hot. Keep refrigerated after opening.
This remarkable plant has plenty to say: Do you have thyme to read this? Tea thyme; This year, next year, only thyme will tell; Better thymes are on the way; Get there in half the thyme, thyme out, thyme heals all wounds; Thyme after thyme.