Technique: Patience & Thyme


One of the lovely things about cooking foods Paleo is that we have literally hundreds (or more) herbs and spices to choose from when preparing all of our meals.  Picante chili powders paired with cilantro & lime for a latin flavor, oregano, lemon & olive oil for a Greek twist or basil with sundried tomato for a California flavor.

Working with herbs and spices can be straightforward (as in basil-: wash and chop), or a bit more tedious, as in one herb in particular that I used to find to be a bit of a bother to work with: fresh Thyme.

I'd buy a bunch and wash it before using, and then find the delicate leaves would stick to my fingers while I tried futilely to pick them off, while the stems would break and I'd end up with a pile of twigs and a wish that I'd bought the dried version in the jar!

Here's  a simpler method:

Holding a sprig of thyme, run your thumb & index finger of the other hand down to pinch off the little leaves, THEN wash, THEN chop.  Voila!

As a little aside, here's a bit about thyme; read it if you have time.. (sorry, bad joke! :)Much of the commercial thyme comes from Spain, which has 37 varieties of thyme. 


  • The fresh or dried leaves of thyme as well as the flowering tops are widely used to flavor soups, stews, baked or sauteed vegetables, casseroles, and custards. Thyme provides a warm tangy flavor, somewhat like camphor, and can retain its flavor in slowly cooked dishes. Thyme is also used in marinades (especially for olives), and in stuffings. The leaves can also be used in potpourris and moth-repellent sachets. 
  • The essential oil of thyme can be used not only to flavor foods, but is also added to soaps, toothpastes, cosmetics, perfumes, and antiseptic ointments. The oil is used in aromatherapy to relieve pain and elevate mood. In addition, it may have a calming effect in stress-related conditions. Thyme baths have been used to help relieve aches and joint pains.
  • Thyme contains an essential oil that is rich in thymol, a powerful antiseptic, antibacterial, and a strong antioxidant. The oil of thyme is used in mouthwashes to treat inflammations of the mouth, and throat infections. It is a common component of cough drops. 
  • Because of its essential oil, thyme possesses expectorant and bronchial antispasmodic properties, making it useful in the treatment of acute and chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract. Thyme enhances the action of the cilia in the bronchi and directly acts on the bronchial mucosa. The terpenoids are responsible for the expectorant activity of thyme while a variety of flavonoids are responsible for the spasmolytic effect of thyme on the bronchioles.