Harvesting, Drying & Storing Thyme
Harvest the leaves as you need them, all summer. Although the flavor is most concentrated before the plants bloom, thyme is so aromatic that the leaves have good flavor all the time. Strip the the tiny leaves from their woody stems before using. Pinch the end of the stem with your thumb and forefinger and pull up the stalk. Remove any of the peripheral twigs.
You can dry the entire stem or the tiny leaves. The small leaves will dry more quickly, but the leaves are easily removed from the stems once dried.
- Cut healthy branches and remove any that are dried out.
- If necessary, rinse with water and dry thoroughly. Wet herbs will mold.
Choose a dark place where the temperature is at least 50 degrees F. and the humidity is low.
- Remove the bottom leaves along the bottom inch of the stem.
- Bundle 4 to 6 branches together, using string or a rubber band. The herb will shrink as it dries, so check periodically to make sure the branches are not slipping out of the bundle.
- Punch several holes in a labeled paper bag and place the herb bundle upside down in the bag. Gather the ends of the bag around the bundle and tie closed, making sure the herbs are not crowded. Putting the herbs in bag will help keep out dust.
- Hang the bag in a dark, well ventilated room.
- Check to see how the drying is progressing, and then weekly, until the herb is completely dried.
Lay the cut plants on sheets of newspaper or a fine screen and allow them to dry in the warm shade. When dry, the leaves will separate from the woody stems easily when rubbed lightly.
Using a Dehydrator:
This method is fast and protects against possible mold. Place the thyme branches in a single layer on the racks that come with the unit. Drying should take less than two days, and the leaves can be stripped of the stem.
- Store your thyme in an airtight container in a dark or dimly lit place.
- Check periodically and discard any that show signs of mold.