Having fresh thyme around is a great way to add flavor to countless dishes, but sometimes that can be difficult given the season. Whether you purchased it from the store, harvested it from your own garden, or were given this delicious herb, you can keep it for extended periods of time with proper care.
How long does fresh thyme last?
Freshly harvested thyme will last 1-3 days at room temperature but can be kept fresh for 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator. Fresh thyme can also be dried for later use or frozen for a year or more. Although drying and freezing cause the herb to lose its freshness, much of the flavor will remain.
Fresh thyme is superior in regards to cooking flavor, but since it isn’t always possible to have fresh thyme around, use another method to store it for later use. It’s easy to store thyme and other herbs by keeping them in the refrigerator, drying them, or freezing them! Read on to find out how to use these different methods to keep this herb around for cooking year round.
Fresh Thyme Storage
Herbs usually don’t last long once picked, and even though thyme is a hardy woody herb, it will lose its freshness quickly. Luckily there are a few easy ways to keep it tasting fresh for all of your cooking needs!
How To Store Fresh Thyme
Storing fresh thyme correctly is important because it doesn’t last long once harvested. If you can’t use all of your thyme before it goes bad, try freezing it or drying it to keep it longer.
How Long Does Thyme Last in the Fridge?
Fresh thyme kept in the refrigerator will last for 1-2 weeks. Keeping the base of the stems submerged in water will help to keep them fresh even longer.
Can Thyme Be Frozen?
Thyme can be frozen and keeps its flavor the longest when stored in the freezer! Be sure to follow the steps below for the best results.
How To Freeze Thyme
Freeze thyme by following these 5 easy steps!
- Harvest the thyme. Any size sprigs work because you will only keep the leaves in the end.
- Wash the thyme, and let it dry. Letting it dry is extremely important because any water that freezes with the thyme will cause frost in the bag.
- Freeze the herb using a sealable bag for about 1 to 2 days.
- Once the thyme has fully frozen, remove the herb from the bag, and pull the leaves from the stems.
- Remove the stems from the mix of leaves, and re-freeze the thyme.
How Long Does Fresh Thyme Last in the Freezer?
Fresh thyme will last in the freezer for 1 to 2 years. Use it sooner rather than later for maximum flavor as it will begin to decline once a long period of time passes.
How To Dry Thyme
Drying thyme is easy and a great way to have it quickly available. Herbs are used dry in most recipes, so they will be easy to apply to any dish!
How To Dry Thyme in Oven
In some climates, it may take extra time for the herb to dry because of humidity levels. It may also be something you want to do quickly rather than waiting a few days or the full week as it will usually take. Follow the steps below to dry your thyme in the oven.
- Harvest and rinse your thyme sprigs.
- Place the herb in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
- Then place the tray in your oven with it set to 120℉. Many ovens do not go below 212℉, so it may be necessary to prop the door open slightly to allow airflow and to not burn the thyme. It should take around 2-4 hours using low temps or 1-2 hours for high temperatures.
- Be sure to check on it regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn or become overly dry.
- The leaves will most likely drop from the stems. Collect them, and store them in an airtight container to keep their flavor from losing its strength.
How To Dry Thyme in Microwave
Since microwaves heat up quickly, be sure not to put the thyme in for too long. Microwaves vary based on their wattage and power, so I recommend starting off with low amounts of time and working your way up.
- Place your thyme on a paper towel, and begin with a 30-second microwave time.
- Then toss the thyme to rotate it, and continue to microwave it in 10-15 second increments, checking it until it is dried.
- Once it is dried, remove the leaves, and store them in an airtight container.
How To Air Dry Thyme
- Harvest your thyme in long sprigs to allow for room to tie a string around the stem or add a clip.
- Hang the springs by the base upside down. A clothes hanger works well if you don’t have an herb drying rack.
- Place them in a location with good ventilation, and allow time to work its magic!
- Check on the thyme every so often. It should take about 1-2 weeks depending on the humidity and location. You’ll know it’s dry when leaves easily drop from the stems.
How Long Does Dried Thyme Last?
Dried thyme will last a while, but its taste will begin to lose intensity as time goes on. It will retain its flavor for around 6-8 months in most cases. Use it sooner rather than later for maximum flavor!
Thyme Shelf Life
|Storage Method||Use Within|
|Fresh thyme at room temperature||1-3 days|
|Fresh thyme in fridge||1-2 weeks|
|Frozen thyme||1-2 years|
|Dried thyme||6-12 months|
How To Use Fresh Thyme
Fresh thyme can be used in a variety of dishes. Most commonly found in southern European and Mediterranean cooking, it will deliver a warm herbal taste to most dishes! See the list below for the top foods to pair with thyme.
- Poultry dishes
Is Frozen Thyme as Good as Fresh?
While fresh thyme will bring the most flavor to your dishes, frozen thyme is also great! If prepared and stored appropriately, it will last a long time in the freezer. Use it as you would use fresh thyme in any of your dishes!
Is Thyme Better Dried or Fresh?
Fresh thyme and dried thyme can add different flavors to your dishes, but both bring a great taste. Whether one is better than the other is difficult to say, but I would always prefer fresh thyme for dishes with eggs and for raw eating while dried thyme works best with meat and seafood dishes.
Herbs can help bring your cooking to life, but based on the season, your herb garden may not be able to deliver! Harvest your thyme before the winter causes it to drop its leaves, and use one of the methods above to ensure you’ll never have to cook a recipe without the necessary thyme!