How to Dry Thyme

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How to dry thyme – for when you have more fresh thyme than you can use, or need to harvest it at the end of the growing season.

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Dried thyme in a white bowl, with fresh thyme

Drying Thyme

Fresh thyme is very easy to dry. If dried correctly, it will retain its flavor well, and while it might not be quite as good as fresh thyme, can be used successfully for most of the uses of fresh thyme.

Dry thyme without heat

The intention of drying thyme is to preserve the leaves by removing the water, but without losing the natural oils that give it its flavor.

Thyme, like most herbs, is best dried naturally, without using artificial heat. This helps to retain the natural oils better, as excess heat will cause to oils to evaporate.

Trying to dry herbs by raising the temperature (for example in the oven or microwave) may dry them quicker, but will lead to the natural oils that give the herb its flavor being lost. This defeats the object of drying them, since they will be useless for flavoring foods. 

For more info see this article: drying herbs without heat.

The best way to dry thyme

If you have a dehydrator, then this can be used for drying thyme, however it is not necessary. If you don’t have a dehydrator, there are two basic methods for drying thyme:

  1. Dry between sheets of paper or parchment
  2. Dry hanging bunches

1.How to dry thyme on paper

Parchment paper is ideal for drying herbs the type of paper you use is important, coated baking papers or waxed papers will not work.

All you need to do is lay the thyme in a single layer between two sheets of parchment and leave undisturbed until it has dried out.

It is important that the air can circulate while the thyme is drying, so don’t cover it with anything other than the parchment paper.

When the thyme has been spread on the drying paper, it needs to be placed in a warmish dry location until the water is gone from the leaves.

I find that high up in my kitchen is a good location, so I place the drying tray on top of my kitchen cupboards. It is warm all day long, though doesn’t get too hot. As a bonus, they are up high out of the way of our daily family chaos and so won’t be disturbed! 

2. Drying Thyme by hanging bunches

If you have a lot of thyme to dry, and a lot of time to dry (sorry), then hanging it in bunches is a good technique to use.

All you need to do is cut the thyme, and tie it into small bunches with twine. Then hang the bunches upside down in a warm place where they won’t be disturbed. Again, I find up high in my kitchen is an ideal spot.

You will probably find that it takes a little longer to dry the thyme using this method, but if you have more than one tray’s worth of thyme to dry, then using the method above isn’t really practical for most of us.

Drying Thyme: Frequently Asked Questions

How do you dry fresh thyme?

There are two basic methods to dry fresh thyme: between sheets of paper, or by hanging bunches. There are more details in the post above, and the instruction card below.

How long does it take to dry thyme?

It takes approximately a week to dry fresh thyme, though the exact time it takes will depend on the technique and location used. Drying on paper is likely to take less time than drying in bunches, and both will depend on how warm the location selected for drying is.

Can you dry thyme in the oven?

It is not recommended to dry thyme in the oven. While it will achieve dried thyme, the process of raising the temperature so high will mean that the fragrant oils (that you want to retain to flavor your food) will be lost. Though on the upside, your kitchen will smell beautifully of thyme for a few days!

Is dried thyme as good as fresh?

Nothing beats fresh herbs. However, if you use the correct techniques to dry fresh herbs then they can retain most of the same properties and be almost as good as fresh for many uses.

How to Dry Thyme: Step-by-step guide

Dried thyme in a white bowl, with fresh thyme

How to Dry Thyme

How to dry fresh thyme.

Materials

  • 1 bunch fresh thyme

Tools

  • Scissors, shears or a knife
  • Large tray or baking sheet and baking parchment or paper towels OR
  • Garden twine or string

Instructions

Harvest the Thyme and Prepare

  1. Harvest the thyme - cut the thyme when the leaves are mature (darker green).
  2. Wash the thyme thoroughly. Gently shake off excess water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Technique 1: Dry Thyme on Paper

  1. Prepare the drying surface - line a large tray, baking sheet or other flat surface with parchment paper or paper towels.
  2. Spread thyme stalks out in a single layer on the prepared drying surface.
  3. Place another layer of parchment or paper towels over the thyme stalks.
  4. Place the tray in a warm dry area where it will not be disturbed, and leave thyme to dry.

Technique 2: Dry Bunches of Thyme

  1. Tie thyme into small bunches - take a small handful of thyme stalks and loop the twine tightly around the bunch a few times and secure with a knot.
  2. Hang the bunches of thyme in a warm dry are where they will not be disturbed, and leave to dry completely.

Collect and store dried thyme

  1. It will take a few days for the thyme to dry - after 4 days start to check daily to see when the leaves have lost all their moisture. When they are ready they will feel crunchy rather than bend.
  2. When the thyme leaves have completely dried out remove from the parchment, remove from the stems by shaking and use a knife to gently scrape the stems. The leaves should fall off easily.
  3. Store dried thyme leaves in an air tight jar or pot.

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