Thyme is a hardy, versatile herb that remains as useful when preserved as it is when fresh. You can have the thyme taste year round if you use the right methods to preserve it. Let’s review how to store thyme for the freshest possible flavor.
In the refrigerator
Thyme’s hardiness means that you can simply toss it into a resealable container and stick it in your refrigerator with no other precautions. It should still remain usable for several weeks.
To keep thyme tasting fresh for even longer, roll it in a damp paper towel and place it in a resealable plastic bag.
A third option for long term storage is to stand your thyme sprigs up like a bouquet of flowers in a drinking glass or jar with about an inch of water inside. You can place them in your refrigerator just like that or opt for a taller resealable container to keep water from spilling if it gets knocked over. Frequent water changes can keep your thyme lasting for three months or longer using this method.
Thyme is robust enough to withstand being frozen with no effects on its texture or flavor. Just place the sprigs in a freezer bag and put them in your freezer. Once you remove the thyme from the freezer, the leaves will be easy to remove from the stems. Just pull the tines of a fork through the stems or pull the leaves off with your fingers.
You can also use the same ice cube method that is so effective with other herbs. You will want to remove the leaves from the stems first. The fork method may not be as effective with fresh, unfrozen thyme so simply pinch the stems between your thumb and forefinger and pull your fingers down the stem to break off the leaves. Place the leaves into an ice cube tray and fill with water. Place the tray into the freezer. Once the cubes are solid, remove them from the tray and place in freezer bags. You can simply pop one of these cubes into a beef stew or pasta sauce to enjoy the taste of fresh thyme whenever you like.
Thyme is one of those herbs that retains much of its flavor when dried. The fastest way to dry thyme is with a food dehydrator. Preheat the dehydrator to between 90 and 100 degrees. Use a fine screen on the dehydrator trays to save any leaves that fall from the stems. Your thyme can take between one and three hours to dry completely. Start checking it every half an hour after the first hour. When the leaves crumble easily, it is ready to come out. Remove the leaves from the stems and place into airtight containers for storage.
Another easy way to do it is to simply air dry it. Poke some holes and in a paper bag and place it over the bunch of thyme. Hang the bunch in a location with dry, moving air. The bag will catch any leaves that fall off and will keep your thyme from getting dusty. After about 10 days, your thyme should be dry and ready for storage.
You can also dry thyme in your microwave. Place the sprigs in a single layer on dry paper towels and microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Between each session, turn and rearrange the sprigs.
Your oven can also dry thyme quickly. Preheat it to 180 degrees and place the thyme sprigs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the oven with the door open. Keep them in for about two hours. Check their dryness every 30 minutes after the first hour.