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Spotlight Herb: Thyme

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Thyme is a traditional and extremely versatile herb in the kitchen. It is easy to grow, in both the pot and in the ground. It grows wild in many places and suits nearly any condition, especially arid and well drained soils. The ease of growing and savory flavor make it perfect for any garden. It attracts bees, making it an excellent choice to ensure adequate pollination in the rest of your garden.

The plant is a woody herb with small, round leaves. The leaves, not the stems, are the usable herb. Turn the stem upside down and run your thumb and forefinger down it to remove the leaves quickly. No need to even cut them, since they are so small.

Thyme is extremely easy to dry and is also readily available to buy at any supermarket. To dry, just hang, upside down, in a cool, dry place. Fresh thyme is best, but freshly dried is a good substitute. In a pinch, store bought dried thyme works but if you buy it, it's best to get it from an herbal store such as The Herb Shoppe on Hawthorne.

Thyme can be used in virtually any dish and lends a mellow savory, yet dainty flavor. The versatility allows both fresh and dried thyme to be used equally as well with any meat, salad, side dish or even dessert. The oils, which produce the flavor, in thyme need patience to release their full flavor. When using thyme, add it early in the cooking process to get the most out of the herb's flavor.

Whatever culinary creation you choose to make, thyme is a great addition to it.

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