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How to Store Thyme

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If you’re lucky enough to have a bumper crop of thyme (or if you’ve bought too much at the market), don’t let it go to waste. Here are a few tips on how to store thyme so that it stays fresh and flavourful for weeks.

Fresh thyme sprigs in a jar with water.
How to store thyme.

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Storing thyme

Thyme is one of those go-to herbs that you use all the time in cooking. It is a versatile herb that can be used in many different dishes, so it’s worth keeping some on hand and taking the time to store it properly.

Scroll down for the step-by-step printable guide on how to store fresh thyme, or read on for all the details. 

Tips for storing fresh thyme

Use the freshest thyme possible

Use the freshest thyme you can get your hands on. Either pick it right before you are ready to store it, or choose the freshest bunch of thyme you can from the grocery store or farmers market. 

>>Related post: How to Harvest Thyme

Prepare thyme for storage

To prepare the thyme for storage, remove any dead or discolored leaves from your bunch of thyme. 

Then wash the cut thyme under fresh cold water to remove any surface dust or dirt, and gently pat dry on paper towels.

How to store fresh thyme in the fridge (2 ways)

Storing thyme in the fridge is the best way to keep it freshest for the longest. The aim is to create a damp environment to slow the loss of water from the leaves, but without the leaves being wet and becoming slimy.

There are two basic approaches:

1. Stand in water

Trim the ends, then stand the cut thyme stems in a glass or jar of fresh water just like you would with fresh cut flowers. Change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh. 

Loosely cover the jar with a food-safe plastic bag or cling wrap to keep the leaves clean.

You can keep the jar on the kitchen counter or in the refrigerator. If storing it on the kitchen counter, the flavor will gradually be lost as the natural oils in the leaves are lost to the air. Storing it in the fridge will preserve the flavor for longer (so choose this option if you have the space).

Fresh thyme sprigs in a mason jar.
Place the thyme sprigs in a jar, and cover with a lid or plastic bag.
A jar with fresh thyme in a fridge door.
Store the jar in the fridge, replacing the water every few days and checking the thyme of freshness.

Alternatively, you can store the fresh thyme in large mason jars and cover with the lid, or get yourself a herb saver*, which is a purpose-made jar for keeping fresh herbs fresh. These are designed to fit in the fridge door of most standard-sized refrigerators.

2. Store between damp paper towels

You can also store thyme sprigs in the refrigerator wrapped in damp paper towels, either in an air tight container or a ziplock bag.

You want the paper towels to be damp rather than fully saturated. I like to spray the paper towels with water rather than placing them right under the tap, as it is easier to control the amount of water you apply. 

Store the container in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator.

Check the thyme every couple of days and re-dampen or replace the paper towels as needed. 

Sprigs of fresh thyme in a container with paper towels.
Wrap the thyme sprigs in damp paper towels and place in an air-tight container or bag.
A container with thyme in the fridge.
Store the container in the refrigerator, re-dampen or replace the paper towels every couple of days.

How long to store thyme in the refrigerator

Fresh thyme should keep for around 3 weeks if stored correctly in the refrigerator.

You will know it is time to throw it out when the thyme starts to turn dark, or if the stems or leaves start showing signs of sliminess or mold. 

Remove any sprigs that start to show these signs, rinse the rest of the bunch and replace the water or paper towels. This should help the remaining thyme to last longer.

How to store thyme long term

If you want to store fresh thyme for longer than a couple of weeks you have a few options. The best option to choose will depend on how you want to use the thyme.

Freeze it

You can store thyme in the freezer for up to 6 months.

There are two approaches you can take:

  1. Freeze sprigs of thyme in a freezer-safe bag or container. Then remove a sprig or two as required for your recipe. Or,
  2. Make frozen herb cubes. Strip the leaves from the stems and place them in an ice-cube tray. Cover with water or olive oil and freeze. Then you can pop out a thyme cube as needed and add it to your recipe.

Dry it

Thyme is one of those rare herbs that retains its flavor very well when dried, as long as it is dried correctly. Check out my article on How to Dry Thyme for detailed instructions on how to do this.

This is a super-convenient way to store leftover fresh thyme, as it can keep for a year or longer if stored correctly.

How to Store Thyme

Fresh thyme sprigs in a jar with water.

How to store thyme to keep it good for weeks.

Materials

  • 1 bunch fresh thyme [Note 1]

Tools

  • A large jar or drinking glass and a lid or plastic bag OR
  • An air-tight container and paper towels

Instructions

First, prepare the thyme

  1. Remove any wilted or dead leaves from your bunch of thyme.
  2. Wash the thyme sprigs under fresh cold water to remove any surface dust or dirt
  3. Gently pat dry on paper towels.

Method 1: Stand in water

  1. Trim the ends of the thyme stems (unless freshly harvested), then stand the sprigs in a glass or jar of cool water.
  2. Loosely cover the jar with a food-safe plastic bag or cling wrap to keep the leaves clean.
  3. Store the jar in the refrigerator.
  4. Change the water every couple of days to keep it fresh.

Method 2: Store in paper towels

  1. Line an air tight container (or ziplock bag) with damp paper towels.
  2. Place the thyme sprigs or leaves into the container and place another damp paper towel on top.
  3. Seal the container and store it in the crisper draw of your refrigerator.
  4. Check the thyme every couple of days and replace the paper towels as needed. 

Fresh thyme should keep for around 3 weeks if stored using one of these methods [Note 2].

Notes

  1. Use the freshest thyme possible. Either pick it right before you are ready to store it, or choose the freshest bunch of thyme you can from the grocery store or farmers market. 
  2. You will know it is time to throw it out when the thyme starts to turn dark or slimy, or if the stems start showing signs of sliminess or mold. 

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