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Harvesting thyme in your own garden has the advantage that you can use it at any time for seasoning. This article explains how you can also preserve the herb.

In a nutshell

  • Thyme (Thymus) is an aromatic herb for grilled food or tea preparations
  • year-round use
  • tastiest in fall or before flowering
  • the flowering time depends on the variety
  • Preservation methods: drying, freezing or pickling

growth of thyme

The herb is evergreen. It will sprout again in the spring. Depending on the variety, flowering occurs from May to October.
To keep the plant vital, regular pruning makes sense. If harvested frequently, an additional pruning is not necessary.

use in the kitchen

Thyme sprigs are typically used to marinate and flavor grilled food. However, the dried herb also goes very well with fish or potatoes. In contrast to many other herbs, the aroma of thyme does not dissipate if it is cooked for a long time. On the contrary, the taste only develops over a longer period of time.


The herb can be harvested continuously for the kitchen. To do this, the required leaves or branches are simply cut off with scissors. Harvesting at the right time plays a greater role when it comes to stocking up or using as a medicinal herb.

Choose the right time to harvest:

The highest possible content of valuable ingredients is desirable for preservation. The same applies if the healing effect is to be used. As with many other herbs, the essential oil content of thyme is highest just before flowering. Further tips for choosing the right time to harvest:

  • young shoots have more ingredients than old ones
  • Rain and too much sun leach the leaves
  • the day should be warm and dry
  • the best time of day is late morning or, if there is no midday sun, early afternoon
  • the dew should be dry before harvesting


For use in the kitchen, it is sufficient if you harvest individual leaves from the thyme. In order to harvest a larger stock, the shoots are completely cut back. This is due to the fact that the cut surfaces are smaller. The more cut surfaces there are, the faster the ingredients evaporate.


There are several ways to preserve thyme sprigs. The best known are drying and freezing. It is important that you process the herb as soon as possible after harvesting. A longer lying time worsens the quality.


Many utensils are not necessary for drying. The thyme sprigs are trimmed, only washed in an emergency, and then tied into small bundles with thin twine. Hang the bundles in a warm, dry room out of direct sunlight.

Notice: A sock hanger is well suited for hanging up herbs.

A slightly different procedure is used when drying in the oven or dehydrator. Spread the branches flat. Either on the baking sheet or the racks for the dehydrator. The oven should not be hotter than 50 degrees, the door remains open a crack during drying.
Modern dehydrators have special setting options for herbs, which makes them very easy to use. Both methods are faster than air drying, which in turn is particularly gentle.


This method of preserving keeps the herbs fresh and aromatic for a particularly long time. The sprigs of thyme can be frozen whole or chopped. With whole twigs, it makes sense to pre-freeze them on a board or baking sheet. They are then transferred to freezer bags or cans and labeled with the date and content.
Another variation is to freeze chopped thyme sprigs in ice cube trays along with some water. These can later be added to the corresponding dishes without defrosting.


If you already know exactly what you want to do with the thyme after harvesting, you can preserve it by pickling it. This method of preservation is very diverse. Depending on your preference, different utensils are necessary.

Insertion Methods:

  • oil
  • vinegar
  • salt
  • honey

What all variants have in common is that they are easy to use. The thyme sprigs are cleaned or washed and then dried. When using salt, it is enough to cut the twigs into small pieces. Depending on the size of the jars or bottles used, the branches to be pickled in vinegar, oil or honey can be left whole. After you have placed the branches in the chosen vessels, simply fill up with the chosen ingredient.
When preserving with salt, it is not necessary to dry the branches beforehand. They can simply be chopped up and layered in small glasses, alternating with salt. The amount of salt must be large enough to cover the herbs well.

Notice: Dried herbs However, you can also process them together with salt to make herbal salt.

Preserve with other herbs

tea blends

If the sprigs of thyme are intended for tea, they can be processed right away together with other herbs such as sage, fennel and buckhorn. Herbs for teas are always dried. After the herbs have dried thoroughly, they are stored in tightly sealed containers. They can be crushed a bit for this. The container should be labeled with the tea composition and purpose.
Herbs in cube form

The freezing method is suitable for this. For freezing, the sprigs of thyme are chopped along with sage or rosemary and placed in ice cube trays. Combinations with other herbs are also possible. If necessary, the herbs can be used together to season the right dish.


Notice: Sage and rosemary are also good for pickling in oil or vinegar along with thyme.

frequently asked Questions

What is the difference between the different types of thyme?

Aside from the different essential oil content and associated taste differences, thyme varieties also flower differently. This means that the time for harvesting can vary from variety to variety.

Is thyme hardy?

There are many varieties, such as common thyme (Thymus vulgaris), and they can also be harvested all year round. If you choose a non-hardy thyme, it will do well in a tub and overwinter indoors. There, too, shoots can be cut for eating or tea in the evening.

What medicinal properties does thyme have?

The essential oils have an expectorant, antibiotic effect and relieve coughing. That is why thyme is often a component of cough pastilles or cough teas.

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