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Herb of the Month: November

It can feel that courage is a bit harder to come by in the late autumn and winter, when cold and bitter weather awaits us. This year, perhaps we’re all especially in need of some extra too. Such is our good luck, that Sara is here with some ideas for experimenting with the flavours and beauty of the hardy, enduring herb Thyme. Once thought to inspire bravery and courage, they’re definitely worth trying on this winter-feeling weekend.


Written by Sara Dixon, Hawkwell Herbs


 

To the ancient Greeks, Thyme represented courage, and, in more recent times, it has been included in posies given to those who have shown, or who needed, courage in certain situations. It is why I always focus on Thyme in the month of Remembrance Sunday.

Thyme itself is a brave little herb. It can cope with whatever the weather may throw at it – from drought, to wind, to rain and even snow! With regard to the variegated leaved Thymes, try to put them somewhere where they get a range of sun and shade as the leaves get their variegation from the changes in light levels. Other than that, for most Thymes, just avoid intense sunshine as the leaves can scald. I prefer mine in the ground but they are just as happy in a pot and the creeping Thymes look fabulous spilling over the side of a pot.

It is a very efficient little herb. You can just use the leaver, or use the leaves and stalks, or just the stalks. I love using some of the prettier Thymes in flower arrangements or as table centre pieces on my dining or kitchen table.  I often find myself nibbling pieces of the herb while waiting for my food to be ready.

Thyme has a real range of uses. I find it to be one of the most varied when it comes to using it when cooking or baking. I am not sure which Thyme you have so here are some ways of using different varieties. Chop and change and experiment with them all!

Broad Leaved Thyme is very spicy. It goes very well in stews and casseroles during the colder months. To get its best spicy flavour add at the last minute.

Lemon and Orange Thymes go beautifully with chicken and fish.

I love Archer’s Gold in stuffing.

Try Carborn Wine and Roses in warm winter salads.

I like roasted sweetcorn, carrot and beetroot salad with Thyme placed on top of the veggies as they roast.

Sparkling Bright (a very pretty leaved Thyme when it flowers) I sprinkle on top of fruit, such as pears or apples, when I bake them in pies.

Creeping Red is wonderful sprinkled on top of fish, particularly oily fish. Bake with the fish in the oven.

Silver Posie, using the stalks and leaves, place it in the middle of cheese as it bakes. It adds warmth and tastiness to the cheese.

Doone Valley is wonderful as a herbal tea! Raw, it tastes more lemony than Lemon Thyme but it loses a bit of its citrus flavour when cooked, whereas Lemon Thyme keeps its flavour.

And of course, all Thymes go really well in the traditional bouquet garni (for adding flavour to soups, stocks, casseroles and stews) alongside Parsley, Bay leaves and, if you fancy it, Rosemary. In essence you can choose whatever herbs you like to go in you bouquet garni, but I always include Thyme in mine.

 


Sara runs Hawkwell Herbs, selling herbs that she grows herself and teaching cooking courses. Visit hawkwellherbs.co.uk to discover more and find Sara on Instagram @hawkwellherbs. If you would like to receive the next Herb of the Month straight to your inbox, email “Herb of the Month please” to blog@herbsociety.org.uk

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