Drying Thyme: Make this Easy Holiday Garden Gift
Not all herbs dry well, but drying thyme is pretty much idiot-proof. There are only a few little tricks to getting it right.
It's worth making dried thyme to get you through winter cooking, like making these Roasted Carrots with Thyme and Rosemary. Dried thyme also makes a fragrant and personalized hostess gift from your urban garden.
In Virginia, our thyme usually winters over and we can pull leaves off all year. But growth does slow down during the winter, and the leaves aren't as fat and flavorful. So we dry some each fall to use during the fallow season. This way we can give our garden thyme a little winter rest.
In the fall, I cut the thyme back pretty hard, and then dry it for a few days in the house. Here are the details.
Dried thyme basics
Cut back your garden thyme ideally in early fall. If you live in a warmer climate where the thyme winters over (like ours in Zone 7a), you can cut all year. Don't cut more than half the plant so that you don't shock it.
Strip the leaves off the stems by pinching the stem between your fingertips, then running them down the stem from the top. This strips the tiny leaves off in one fell swoop (I find you get fewer stems when you strip, then dry versus drying, then stripping).
Pull the tips off each branch and add those tiny florets to your growing pile.
Spread the leaves out on a rimmed cookie tray or jellyroll pan (lining it with wax or parchment paper makes it easier to pour into a jar later).
Let sit in a cool, dark room for several days, stirring them up once or twice each day.
That's it! No braiding, tying or silica gel.
Dried thyme as a gift
I saved some small jam jars to package the thyme. Make some pretty labels - I used Japanese washi tape. It's a lightweight, colorful masking tape that peels off easily. It comes in all colors, and I often use purple as it's opposite green on the color wheel. Wrap it in a colorful cloth or gift bag and you're done!
This is a gift that can keep on giving. If you gift your thyme to someone especially appreciative, ask them if they want to take on a whole plant. Every other spring we pull our thyme out of its container and divide it, then replant. You can share that other half with your appreciative friend.