There are two kinds of herbs, soft or hard. Soft herbs are added when the cooking is almost or halfway done. While hard herbs are meant for longer cooking times. Thyme falls into the category of hard herbs. So, saying Thyme is a hardy versatile herb isn’t wrong at all.
The versatility of thyme is widely acknowledged in soups, stews, and roasted vegetables. But, thyme isn’t versatile enough to be thrown away. How do you preserve this great herb to be used year-round?
Can you freeze thyme? Yes, you can. Freezing thyme would keep it fresh for 8 to 12 months. The period stated is for best quality only. If frozen properly, you can have thyme for use all year round.
On recipes where it is stated to use dried thyme, feel free to use twice the measurement stated in the recipe for frozen thyme.
Although it might still be warm during the day, cold nights signal the coming of winter. Hardly anything grows in the cold. So, if you prefer fresh herbs to their dried counterparts, freezing is the best way to go about it.
How to Freeze Thyme
Thyme can be frozen in different ways. But, every one of these methods guarantees prolonged life if properly done.
- Freezing Thyme
- Freezing Thyme in Oil or Water
Herbs are very easy to freeze. It takes little or no effort to freeze. Thyme’s hard nature makes it rugged and determined to survive but we have to preserve it so that we can enjoy it even when it becomes unavailable.
Step 1: Cutting and Washing Thyme
Cut the branches of the thyme away from the stems and rinse them thoroughly. Rinsing helps to shake off bugs and wash off dust or debris. If you plant your herbs in an exposed environment, please wash them well before use. Blot the thyme with paper towels or air dry on the counter to dry.
Step 2: Freezing and Storage
With experience, one will find that Ziploc bags are great for freezing food items. So once your herbs are clean and dry, put them into the Ziploc bags. Expel as much air as you can before freezing. This is not the final step.
After your thyme has frozen for a few weeks in the freezer, it is time to separate the leaves from the branches. Because the leaves are frozen they would come off easily, you can shake the leaves off or pull them off with your fingers.
Now, discard the branches and store the leaves in airtight freezer containers or glass jars. These containers do a good job of keeping the moisture and air away. Label the jars or containers, and put them back in the freezer to freeze for long-term.
Freezing Thyme in Oil or Water
Most soft herbs like basil, mint, and oregano are frozen this way. They can be eaten raw, and they require just a little cooking. But, thyme’s hardiness means that it can be frozen in any manner without damage to its texture or flavor.
Step 1: Washing and Cutting Thyme
This is an important part of your freezing process. Having frozen bugs in your dishes or recipes because you decided to skip this step would be disastrous. So rinse the thyme thoroughly under running water and drain in a colander. Then, pat or blot the herbs with a kitchen towel to dry.
Cut the leaves away from the branches, pinch the leaves between your thumb and index finger, twist and rip them off. It might be a little hard but minimal force should do it.
Step 2: Making Frozen Thyme Cubes
If you don’t have an ice cube maker, you can get an ice cube making tray. Put the already cut leaves of the thyme into the pockets on the tray and fill them with water or oil till the leaves are completely immersed in it.
Water expands upon freezing so leave a little headspace in the pockets of the tray, so it doesn’t overflow as it freezes. Leave the trays in the freezer to freeze overnight, or keep checking, till it freezes solid.
Step 3: Storage
Now, you have your thyme frozen into water or oil cubes. Remove the cubes from the trays and transfer them to Ziploc or airtight freezer bags for continued storage.
Don’t forget to label the bags with a sharpie, stating the contents and the date of the freeze. This helps you to identify what food item you have stored and for how long it has been stored.
How to Thaw Frozen Thyme
You do not need to defrost your frozen thyme before use. Thyme leaves are so small that they defrost upon contact with heat. So in any recipes that require thyme leaves, just get your frozen thyme cubes and throw them in the pan or pick a measurement from the jars in the freezer and throw them in to be cooked.
Can You Eat Raw Thyme?
Thyme can be consumed whether fresh or dried. Thyme can be used in Tea or Tincture and even essential oil forms. Thyme can be ingested whether cooked or uncooked without it causing any harm to the body. But, since thyme is mainly recognized for the flavor it adds to dishes, it is much preferred in cooked dishes or recipes.
Do Thyme Go Bad?
Yes, thyme can go bad. Thyme that has gone bad will have an off smell or appearance. It will also be soft. Thyme takes a while to go bad. But if stored in unsavory conditions, it will go bad. If you notice that your thyme has gone bad, please discard it.