French thyme, a bushy, woody-based evergreen subshrub that can grow up to a foot tall that produces purple and pink flowers during the summer, is native to southern Europe.
The leaves of French thyme are small but these tiny green-gray leaves are very aromatic. Despite French thyme used for culinary purposes, it is also a popular choice as a garden groundcover. Thymus vulgaris is known by many different names like common thyme, German thyme, garden thyme, French thyme, or just thyme.
The flowers of thyme have culinary and aromatic uses too. The oil extracted from thyme is used worldwide primarily to help alleviate discomfort and illnesses.
Species: T. vulgaris
Binomial name: Thymus vulgaris
French thyme Trivia
- Ancient Greeks believed that thyme leaves can make a man courageous. Dried thyme is burned as incense to inspire those inside the chamber to feel courageous. Soldiers going to battle are given thyme sprig hoping to inspire them to be courageous in battle.
- Thyme was used by ancient Egyptians for embalming the dead.
- In ancient Greece, thyme is dried and used as incense.
- To date, there are more than 350 different species of thyme.
French thyme Buying Guide
If you are buying French thyme for cooking, you need to look for freshly-cut french thyme leaves. Head to the fresh produce section of the grocery or supermarket and if they have them in stock, it will be on the fruit and vegetable display refrigerator. If there is a farm stand or farmers market near you, make it a point to visit it first and source your French thyme from local producers. Buy enough for immediate use, or buy a lot, preserve and store them for future use.
Always check the condition of the leaves when buying. Unless you are planning to dry, freeze, or store thyme using other methods, make sure to buy enough for immediate use only to avoid wastage.
If you want to plant French thyme, potted French thyme is usually sold in farmers markets or farm stands. But your best bet is a garden nursery. If you are already in the grocery or supermarket, you’ll probably spot a potted plant sold there too.
French thyme Production & Farming in Texas
French thyme can grow in USDA Zone 4a to Zone 11. This means growing thyme is possible anywhere in Texas particularly in Austin, Dallas, Hereford, Mc Kinney, and San Antonio. Thyme is easy to grow as long as suitable conditions are met for the plant to thrive, which include full sun exposure and regular watering (thyme is drought-tolerant and it cannot survive with constant overwatering). Thyme can grow in soil with neutral (pH range of 6.6 to 7.5), mildly alkaline (pH range of 7.6 to 7.8), or alkaline (pH range of 7.9 to 8.5) soil. Propagation methods for growing thyme include herbaceous stem cuttings, softwood cuttings, and semi-hardwood cuttings.
Common French thyme pests include spider mites and aphids. French thyme is also susceptible to botrytis and root rot.
- Aphids – Kills aphids destroying your spearmint using neem oil, insecticidal soap, or horticultural oil. You can also use the pesticide malathion, which is the most commonly used organophosphate insecticide in the United States, or rotenone, a selective, non-specific insecticide typically used in home gardens for insect control. Apply through foliar spraying.
- Spider mites – To get rid of spider mites, use neem oil and apply it through foliar spraying. It contains azadirachtin which is effective against spider mites. You can also use horticultural oil (which also targets aphids and thrips). Pests die after exposure to horticultural oil due to suffocation since the oil blocks the spiracles through which insects breathe. Another effect of horticultural oils is disrupting the metabolism of insect eggs. Lastly, horticultural oils disrupt the insect’s ability to feed. As a result, the insect starves to death. Using pyrethrin spray is also an effective method against spider mites. Another option is spinosad, a mixture of two chemicals called spinosyn A and spinosyn D typically used to control a wide variety of pests.
- Botrytis – Using a fungicide is an ideal approach to addressing potential or existing botrytis in your French thyme.
- Root rot – Using benzimidazole fungicide could help with root rot.
Thyme is native to some of the countries south of Europe as well as in some countries north of Africa. Today, some of the major producers of thyme are Spain and Morocco.
In the US, thyme is commonly found grown outdoors in these states:
- Alabama – Auburn and Tuskegee
- Arizona – Phoenix and Surprise
- California – Lawndale, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Merced, and San Diego
- Colorado – Colorado Springs
- Connecticut – Ridgefield
- Florida – Bartow, Kissimmee, Longwood, Melbourne, and Riverview
- Georgia – Albany
- Hawaii – Kurtistown
- Kentucky – Benton
- Louisiana – Franklin
- Maryland – Cumberland, Linthicum Heights, and Valley Lee
- Massachusetts – Mashpee
- New Jersey – Bayville
- New Mexico – Elephant Butte and Rio Rancho
- New York – West Islip
- North Carolina – Fayetteville
- Ohio – Bucyrus, Columbus, and Mount Orab
- Oklahoma – Hulbert
- Pennsylvania – Cranberry Twp, Kintnersville, Milford, Schwenksville, and Walnutport
- Rhode Island – West Warwick
- Tennessee – Soddy Daisy
- Utah – American Fork and South Jordan
- Virginia – Norfolk
- Washington – Colville and Vancouver
- West Virginia – Great Cacapon
- Wisconsin – Birchwood and Milwaukee
Freshly-cut and freshly-packaged French thyme are sold in the market or the produce section of the grocery in a sealed transparent clamshell plastic container. Dried and powdered French thyme come in plastic or glass bottles, or in a plastic pack. You’ll find French thyme seeds sold in plastic packaging too.
Enjoying French thyme
Thyme has a flavor sweeter than sage and spicier than oregano. After eating thyme, some will say the taste is characterized by a sharp flavor that almost feels like mint; others will gravitate towards thyme’s earthiness and floral tones. If the flavor carries citrusy notes, it is possible that another species of thyme was used instead of the common thyme. This is called lemon thyme.
Put French thyme leaves inside a plastic bag or wrap it in a paper cloth or towel before putting it inside the refrigerator. Use a freezer bag if you want to freeze it. A third option is filling ice cube trays with water and French thyme. You can dry these too. Use the microwave to flash-dry the leaves (start by heating it for 20 seconds and adjust accordingly depending on how the drying is turning out). Once it is brittle, you can crush it and put it inside an herb bottle or any container with a lid. Store somewhere cool, dry, and away from direct sunlight. If you don’t have a microwave, try using a drying screen and place this in a warm, dry room to allow it to completely dry.
Another way to preserve thyme and its flavor is to infuse honey or vinegar with thyme. Simply put some sprigs or leaves in your honey or vinegar and let the flavor of the herb mix with the honey or vinegar.
When cooking thyme, remember that its natural flavor is best with meat (particularly lamb in the Mediterranean), cheese, eggs, and tomatoes. In the case of lamb, the use of thyme allows the lamb’s natural flavor to lighten.
Call thyme a team player because it always gets picked to be part of a mix. Za’atar, a popular spice mix, is made using thyme dried oregano, marjoram, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, salt, dried orange zest, and dried dill. The French bouquet garni – a bundle of a variety of herbs tied together and used for cooking soups, stocks, stews, and casseroles – is made from thyme, bay leaf, and parsley. Another popular use of thyme in French cooking is the preparation of an aromatic mixture of dried herbs known as Herbes de Provence which contains thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf.
French thyme is packed with a lot of vitamins (A, B, C, E, and K). It also has beta-carotene and folic acid.
- Calcium: 405.00mg
- Iron: 17.45mg
- Potassium: 609mg
- Sodium: 9mg
Having French thyme included in the daily diet can result in having lower blood pressure. Thyme can also alleviate cough and at the same time help boost immunity and improve the mood. After conducting initial research, thyme is being considered as a potential cure for acne. According to the book The Magic of Thyme For Cooking and Health, it is common among Armenians to drink dried thyme tea if they are bothered by headaches or if they want a calm sleep free from nightmares. “This tradition has come down the ages from Greece and it is still being followed in many parts of Europe, especially Scotland.”
When Are French thyme in Season in Texas?
To find out when French thyme are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.