Drying Thyme: How to Preserve the Precious Herb

Drying Thyme
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - Cybercat

Drying thyme is easy, and there are several ways to do it. If dried and stored correctly, it can be preserved for a long time. In this article, we show you how to harvest, dry and store thyme.

Dried thyme is a wonderful ingredient that adds a delicate note to different types of dishes, from soups and salads to pasta and more. You can also use it to make herb-infused oils or tea and it is also known as a natural home remedy for colds and stomach ailments. If thyme is not yet part of your kitchen herb garden, it is definitely worth adding. Before you can dry it, let’s look at how you can harvest it first.

Harvesting Fresh Thyme

Harvest Thyme
Thyme grows well in free-draining soil or gravel. (Photo: Utopia / Sharon Hodge)

For your daily use, you can harvest fresh thyme regularly. For drying and preserving thyme, it is important that you do it at the right time and that you cut it the right way.

When to harvest thyme: To get the best flavor, harvest thyme in late spring or early summer, just before blooming. The herb usually blooms between June and August, sometimes even longer, depending on the variety and your region. If you’re unsure, you can harvest it when it has just begun to bloom. Also, it’s best to harvest thyme in the morning, when the dew has dried.

How to harvest thyme: Cut off about two thirds from the top, leaving only the woody ends. This is important because cutting into the tough ends can keep your thyme from growing new leaves.

Note: To get rid of dust and dirt that may be clinging to your fresh herbs, do not wash, but instead gently shake the twigs.

How to Dry Thyme

Drying thyme
You can hang thyme to dry, put it in the oven, or use a dehydrator. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay - RitaE)

There are several ways you can dry thyme. Below are three simple methods.

Air drying

  1. After you have collected enough fresh thyme, make sure the branches are dry and that you have plucked off any welted leaves.
  2. Take several stems and use kitchen twine to tie them together.
  3. Find a spot that stays warm and dry, but that also doesn’t get too much light. This is the best way to retain the herb’s flavor and color. Hang the bundles upside down, so they get enough air circulation.
  4. After 2-4 weeks, the thyme will be dried and you can take down the bundles. You know they are dry enough when the leaves easily crumble in your hands.

Dehydrating

  1. Set the dehydrator to approx. 95 degrees F.
  2. Place the fresh thyme on the dehydrator trays and let it dry for 2-4 hours.
  3. Check the thyme regularly. When the leaves crumble easily, you can take them out.

Oven drying

  1. Set your oven to 150 degrees F. (or to the lowest setting).
  2. Place the thyme stems next to each other on a baking sheet and put them in the oven.
  3. Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow humidity to escape. If it doesn’t stay put on its own, you can use a small piece of wood or a cork to keep it from closing shut. Let the thyme dry in the oven for 1-2 hours. Note: Leaving the oven door open is not very eco-friendly. Therefore, we recommend you dry your thyme using one of the options described above.
  4. Make sure the leaves are completely dry before you take them out.

How to Store Dried Thyme

Drying thyme
Dried thyme should be kept in a dark, cool and dry place. That way you can preserve it for a long time. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pexels - Karolina Grabowska)
  • Choosing the right container: To keep away light that will cause the herbs to lose their flavor, ideally find some brown glass, ceramic, or clay containers that you can store them in.
  • Finding the right place for storage: Keeping the containers in a cabinet is a good option to keep away sunlight and warm temperatures. You could also keep them in a dry basement or closed pantry.

Important Information regarding Health-related Topics.

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