History: Ancient Egyptians used thyme for embalming. The ancient Greeks used it in their baths and burnt it as incense in their temples, believing that thyme was a source of courage. It was thought that the spread of thyme throughout Europe was thanks to the Romans, as they used it to purify their rooms and to "give an aromatic flavor to cheese and liqueurs".
In the European Middle Ages, the herb was placed beneath pillows to aid sleep and ward off nightmares. In this period, women would also often give knights and warriors gifts that included thyme leaves as it was believed to bring courage to the bearer. Thyme was also used as incense and placed on coffins during funerals as it was supposed to assure passage into the next life.
Thyme is often used to flavour meats, soups and stews. It has a particular affinity to and is often used as a primary flavour with lamb, tomatoes and eggs.
Thyme, while flavourful, does not overpower and blends well with other herbs and spices. In some Levantine countries, and Assyrian the condiment za'atar contains thyme as a vital ingredient. It is a common component of the bouquet garni, and of herbes de Provence.
The essential oil of common thyme is made up of 20-54% thymol. Thymol, an antiseptic, is the main active ingredient in Listerine mouthwash.
Before the advent of modern antibiotics, it was used to medicate bandages. It has also been shown to be effective against the fungus that commonly infects toenails. It can also be found as the active ingredient in all-natural, alcohol-free hand sanitizers.
Thyme is said to stimulate the circulation, and its antiseptic qualities make it a valuable medicine for coughs and colds.
Storage: Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs. As usual with dried herbs less of it is required when substituted in a recipe. As a rule of thumb, use one third as much dried as fresh thyme - a little less if it is ground.
It is available by 100g, 250g, 500g and 1kg