How to Dry Thyme
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Learn how to dry thyme at home for use in all your favorite recipes. This simple method ensures no fresh thyme goes to waste!
Thyme is one of my favorite herbs to use in cooking. These tiny, unassuming leaves pack a lot of fragrant flavor into a dish.
I’ve kept an herb garden at all of the houses we’ve lived in, and thyme is one herb that I always plant right away.
Thyme is a perennial plant, so it comes back each year, but it does tend to die in colder climates.
Cutting back your thyme plant and drying the herbs is a great way of ensuring you have that wonderful herb all year long.
It’s also a great option for when you’ve bought more than you need at the grocery store. Drying herbs helps prevent food waste while saving you money on packaged dried herbs.
You don’t need a food dehydrator to dry herbs at home. In fact, you don’t need any special equipment at all!
How to harvest thyme
When you are harvesting your garden herbs, you’ll need to use kitchen or garden shears.
I actually have a pair of garden scissors that I use specifically for cutting herbs. The small blade makes it easier to cut the herb stems without getting the whole plant.
Harvest your thyme before it starts to flower, when the sprigs are at least 4 inches long.
Cut the top growth just above a set of leaves, leaving the rest of the woody stem.
Do not cut the plant all the way to the ground so that it can continue to grow, even at the end of the season.
It’s generally recommended to harvest fresh herbs in the morning after the dew has dried, but before it gets too warm outside.
Make sure to gently rinse and pat the thyme dry. Any excess moisture will make the drying time longer.
How to dry thyme
There are two main methods of drying herbs: air drying and oven drying.
To air dry, gather the thyme together into a bundle.
Cut a piece of kitchen twine to the desired length. You want it to be long enough so that you can tie the bundle as well as hang it.
Take one end of the twine and tie it in a knot around one end of the bundle. You can leave the extra tail of the twine or cut it close to the knot for a tidier look.
If you are hanging from a hook, tie the other end of the twine into a loop. If you’re hanging the thyme directly on a rack, tie the twine around the rack, or clip it on with a laundry pin.
Make sure to hang the thyme in a cool, dry place, preferably where it can get some air flow around. I hang mine on a pot rack.
It can take anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks for the thyme to fully dry, depending on the level of moisture in your house and how big the herb bundle is.
Check your herbs daily to see how they are drying, but handle them gently. Dried thyme will fall off the stem and crumble between your fingers.
When it is fully dry, remove from the hook, strip the leaves from the stems, and store in a glass jar.
Oven drying thyme
Turn your oven to the lowest temperature it can go. On my oven, this is 170°F.
Spread the thyme in a single layer onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and place in the oven.
Leave the oven door slightly ajar while the herbs dry.
Check the thyme every 15 minutes, pinching a leaf or two to see if it crumbles.
Depending on how much you are drying, the thyme should be completely dried within 1 hour.
Strip the leaves from the stems and store in a glass jar.
Thyme leaves are very small, so work over a sheet of parchment paper when stripping the leaves. After discarding the stems you can just roll the parchment to pour the leaves into a jar.
Dried herbs can last for at least a year when kept in a cool, dry place.
Make sure to store them in a glass container such as a spice jar, or another tightly sealed container.
Label your jar with the herb and date so you know when it was dried. I write the date directly on the jar with a Sharpie marker; it comes off with rubbing alcohol.
The thyme should be aromatic for a long time. If it no longer has an odor, it’s time for a new batch.
Ways to use dried thyme
Thyme is a wonderful herb to add to any recipe.
Try it with your favorite roast chicken or soups like chicken wild rice soup.
Add it to herby green goddess dressing or pasta sauces.
Sprinkle dried thyme over garlic mashed potatoes, honey roasted carrots, or butternut squash pilaf.
How to Dry Thyme
- 1 bunch fresh thyme
- Rinse thyme gently, removing any dirt or slimy leaves. Pat dry with a towel.
To hang dry
- Gather the thyme together into a bundle. Cut a length of kitchen twine and tie a knot around one end of the thyme. Tie a loop around the other end and hang in a cool, dry place.
- It will take between 3 days and 2 weeks for the thyme to fully dry.
To oven dry
- Turn your oven as low as it can go. (For my oven this is 170°F.)
- Spread the thyme in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in the oven and leave the door ajar.
- Check the thyme every 15-20 minutes for dryness, pinching a leaf or two between your fingers to see if it crumbles. The thyme should be fully dry within 1 hour.
- When thyme is dry, strip the leaves and place in a glass jar. Label and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Once the thyme loses its aroma, it's time for a new batch.