We use many herbs and spices in our cooking to create depth and flavor in dishes, but also to add some unexpected healthy properties to our favorite meals. One of the herbs you may use a lot or want to think about using more of is greek thyme.
This herb is not only delicious when used as an accompaniment to a range of meals, thyme can also bring health benefits to your meals. However, thyme has a rich and storied history that you perhaps may not expect, especially in Greek culture and cuisine.
Do you want to discover the amazing history of wild thyme, how it is used in Greek culture, and the health benefits you can enjoy by introducing thyme to your life? Read on to find out more.
The Greek Thyme
Greek thyme, also known as thymos or thymari in Greek, grows wild in the Greek mountains. In fact, out of over 120 species of thyme, twenty-three of these grow in Greece. Wild thyme grows richly in the Mediterranean climate, and its abundance has made this diverse and woody herb a mainstay in Greek cuisine.
The specific flavor profile of thyme means that it complements the flavors commonly found in popular Mediterranean cooking, specifically the kinds of foods cooked all across Greece. For example, the Greek thyme plant is often used to flavor feta, vegetables, and a range of meat and fish. It can also be easily distilled to flavor the olive oil used freely across the country.
Used throughout time, thyme (Τhymus vulgaris) was first used in ancient Greece. It was thought to bring bravery to those who smelled its fragrances – in fact, the name “thyme” is derived from the Greek word for bravery – “thumos”. In Greek mythology, it is believed that Helen of Troy made the plant grow to bring courage to the soldiers of Greece when she cried. In these early times, it was used as an essential oil for massages, and its medicinal properties were discovered. It also began to be used in cooking practices.
Greek thyme – culinary uses
Today, thyme is still used in a variety of dishes, both native to Greece and from all around the globe. If you want to be put in mind of the rolling Cretan hills, sprinkling dried thyme on a Greek salad (complete with juicy olives and rich feta and tomatoes, drizzled with delicious olive oil) is sure to take you there.
Thyme also goes wonderfully with lamb – one of the most popular and succulent meats you will find in Greece. Making an easy sauce with garlic, the juice and zest of a lemon, and some fresh thyme and drizzling it over lamb cutlets make for a simple yet popular dish. The combination of lemon and thyme, whether dried or fresh, is a common way of bringing out the best in both the thyme and the meat, poultry, or fish you are preparing. This works equally well when the sauce is used over vegetables and potatoes for a side dish.
Greek thyme is a lovely way to give a red pasta sauce an unexpected flavor, especially when combined with other healthy herbs.
The health benefits of Thyme
As well as being an incredible addition to so many delicious dinners, thyme has long been believed to have some phenomenal health benefits. Simply using thyme as a substitute for salt in your foods can help you to manage your blood pressure and cholesterol.
Greek thyme is also believed to be good for immunity boosting, as it is rich in vitamins A and C. Not only that but since ancient times, wild thyme has been known as having antiseptic and antibacterial properties, as well as being rich in antioxidants. Thyme may also be beneficial for rheumatism, and might even have mood-boosting properties.
In Crete, we find the thyme (Coridothymus capitatus), which together with dittany and sage are the herbs used to make Cretan Iama. The antioxidants and vitamins contained in these Cretan herbs have led scientists to choose and create a capsule that is recommended to strengthen the body’s defenses and physically treat the symptoms of seasonal flu and the common cold.
Add Thyme into your life!
Would you like to introduce more thyme into your diet? This amazing herb can work in a great range of dishes, whether you are cooking your favorite Greek-inspired meal or something completely different. As a garnish or an infusion, greek thyme is a fantastic addition to your diet.
Fortunately, you do not have to go into the Greek hills to get the best authentic dried Greek thyme, perfect for giving soups, salads, and pasta a tasty and health-boosting twist.