Thyme is our least favorite of all the herbs. Oh, we love it’s taste! But stripping all those teeny little leaves off the stems can get extremely tedious. Complaining to a chef friend recently, he gave us a tip: just add the stems, tiny leaves and all, straight into the dish.
The leaves gradually loosen during cooking and come off on their own, he explained. The leaves are generally so small that it doesn’t matter that you didn’t mince them beforehand. When cooking is done, just pull out the now-stripped stems of thyme along with the bay leaf and anything else you’re not actually serving.
We gave this a try in our last batch of Beef and Barley Stew and it worked like a charm. The thyme leaves infused into the dish just as they’ve always done and gradually worked their own way off the stems as we stirred. The stems themselves were easy to find and pull out once the leaves were off.
This trick works with other herbs, too. It’s just that most other herbs, like rosemary or oregano, have leaves that are large enough that they really need to be minced before going in the pot. But if you’re planning on pureeing your soup or the liquid from a braise, this technique of adding the whole stems is fair game!
Related: From the Herb Garden: Lemon Thyme
(Image: Emma Christensen)