• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Nicole Alderman
stewards:
  • Mike Haasl
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • John F Dean
  • Rob Lineberger
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
gardeners:
  • Greg Martin
  • Ash Jackson
  • Jordan Holland

Is there any compelling reason to deal with tiny thyme leaves instead of oregano's manageable ones?

 
master gardener
Posts: 789
Location: Durham, NC
278
hugelkultur gear urban cooking building writing woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the topic title says it all.  :)
oregano.jpg
[Thumbnail for oregano.jpg]
 
pollinator
Posts: 328
Location: the mountains of western nc
80
forest garden trees foraging chicken food preservation cooking wood heat homestead
  • Likes 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
they taste pretty different to me. we use thyme a lot and tend to feel that oregano’s not quite as versatile.

if you can’t taste the difference, though...well, it’s your spice cabinet/herb garden.
 
Posts: 43
Location: Seattle burbs
20
hugelkultur forest garden foraging food preservation cooking
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think they taste quite different too. In fact, I grow about six different thymes and four oreganos, and they're all very distinct.

By the way, if you're using fresh young thyme growth that isn't woody, you don't have to strip the leaves. Just fine-chop the whole stem, especially if it's going to be in a cooked dish. :-)
 
Posts: 18
3
  • Likes 7
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
As others have said here, those are very different in flavor! To me that's like saying "should I bother growing garlic if I already have onions?" All you have to do for fresh thyme is turn the branch upside town, wrap your fingers around the stem and strip off all the leaves in one motion. :) The tiny stems attached to the leaves don't matter, it's just the woodier central stem you want to avoid. Happy cooking! :)
 
master gardener
Posts: 3452
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1252
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
"Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme..."
Oregano goes with basil and gives things an "Italian" taste.

If I was going to substitute an easy to grow, larger leaf for thyme, I'd go for Marjorum, which is an extremely close cousin of oregano, but has a different flavor.
Both are related to mint (Lamiaceae):
Origanum vulgare is oregano whereas Origanum majorana is Marjorum.
But consider how different spearmint tastes compared to applemint or lemonbalm?

However, the easiest way to deal with thyme is to dry whole stems and then just strip off the little leaves. It really does impart a lovely flavor to things, even if it is annoying to work with.
 
gardener
Posts: 710
Location: France, Burgundy, parc naturel Morvan
297
forest garden fish fungi trees food preservation cooking solar wood heat woodworking homestead
  • Likes 10
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I don't want to change your mind, if to you oregano and thyme taste the same and don't want to profit of medicinal properties, by all means go for oregano.
But i like to share an "easy" method to store thyme leaves. Good for teas for throat ache and respitory problems or oxymel, thyme soaked in vinegar mixed with honey. Delish and healthy.
Have done 150 grams of them two days ago. If you get the woody twigs so dry that the leaves easily fall off, get a few branches together above a big bowl, rub your hands together with those twigs in between, the branches rub the leaves off , all in your hands and fall down. Because they're so small. Then throw through a metal screen with what 4mm =0,16 inch grid or something to filter the twigs out.
L Allen, since you grow six varieties, would you happen to know if there is one that takes kindly to pruning? I notice that they get woody and woodier in three or four years, become small shrubs , then when i prune mine back, they do not become the soft lush easy to handle twigs any more. Since i grow lots of them in rows in my beds as a border and mini wind trap i'd like to improve on the situation.
If you're interested in growing lots, i made a topic about how i do it. thyme propagation
THYMEHARVEST.jpg
[Thumbnail for THYMEHARVEST.jpg]
 
Rob Lineberger
master gardener
Posts: 789
Location: Durham, NC
278
hugelkultur gear urban cooking building writing woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Congrats, you've all changed my mind!  :)  Really this was all tongue in cheek as I was plucking thyme leaves last night for savory fried apples.  I have a couple types of thyme and use them frequently but each time I wistfully eye the patch of oregano. (And Marjoram, as Jay pointed out.) I guess thyme isn't *that* bad to work with... *grumble
 
Posts: 859
25
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I dunno, how's the old saying go--variety is the spice of life, very fitting here.  thyme and oregano are two different things, can't make jambalaya without thyme
 
Jay Angler
master gardener
Posts: 3452
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1252
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Rob Lineberger wrote:Congrats, you've all changed my mind!  :)  Really this was all tongue in cheek as I was plucking thyme leaves last night for savory fried apples.  I have a couple types of thyme and use them frequently but each time I wistfully eye the patch of oregano. (And Marjoram, as Jay pointed out.) I guess thyme isn't *that* bad to work with... *grumble

At least we've given you some good reasons to contemplate while grumbling over the work involved!

Hugo Morvan wrote:

L Allen, since you grow six varieties, would you happen to know if there is one that takes kindly to pruning?

I wonder if the timing is critical. I've had similar experiences to what you described, but I pruned the one in my front bed last year and it responded wonderfully. Now I'm thinking I should have been better about keeping a garden journal so I could figure out what I did right!
 
gardener
Posts: 3066
284
forest garden fungi trees books food preservation bike
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
They are medicinally distinct. Both have independent research on pub med documenting their medicinal value. You can't patent either one, so youll never hear about it on major media.   I use thyme as yummy anti-viral medicine. Oregano is also yummy anti-viral medicine.  I cut off a branch or two of thyme, stick it in a mason jar in glycerite, and take it any time during the winter when I need anti-viral medicine. I take out the plant material after about 6 weeks.  
john S
PDX OR
 
gardener & author
Posts: 2009
Location: Ladakh, Indian Himalayas at 10,500 feet, zone 5
434
trees food preservation solar greening the desert
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I agree with everyone above, and I use my thyme more often than oregano. I find if I cut a big clump and wash and then pile it to dry on a plate, then when it's sort of 75% dry it's easy to pull the leaves off en masse without crumbling woody stems into the mix. Just last week I filled a 200ml jar with dried thyme leaves. yeah, it was picky, took some time, but now I've got more than a full supply for the year, and it smells divine.

Another easy way to use thyme, depending on the cooking method of the meal, is I sometimes just wash a clump and lay it on the food that is simmering, pushing it under the surface gently with a spoon. After a few minutes of cooking, you can pull the now leafless woody stems out, leaving the leaves behind.
 
L Allen
Posts: 43
Location: Seattle burbs
20
hugelkultur forest garden foraging food preservation cooking
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Hugo Morvan wrote:
L Allen, since you grow six varieties, would you happen to know if there is one that takes kindly to pruning? I notice that they get woody and woodier in three or four years, become small shrubs , then when i prune mine back, they do not become the soft lush easy to handle twigs any more. Since i grow lots of them in rows in my beds as a border and mini wind trap i'd like to improve on the situation.
I thyme propagation



Hugo, I think the regular garden thyme, Thymus vulgaris, responds best to hard pruning. I have a few older plants in big pots that I've moved around, and they've done well enough with a 2/3 sheer in early spring.

That said, I often just start a few new plants from seed every year and tuck them around in the garden beds. I find new varieties in the seed catalogs and have to try them! This is how I have so many. :-)

The worst about taking a pruning, I've found, is the pretty little variegated lemon thyme (a variety of T. citriodorus.) It just stays woody, it's tough to root, and I have a hard time finding starts (no seed's available, as far as I know.) The regular lemon thyme responds moderately well to pruning in my garden, but since it's super easy to start from seed, I grow a cell pack every year with my other veggie starts. Orange thyme, ditto.

The more permanent thymes don't respond as well, either. The wooly thymes (T. serpyllum and varieties) are pretty much always woody, in my experience. I have some clumps in the rockery, and tucked here and there. and I consider them a backup edible ornamental that I could use in a pinch. While I love edible ornamentals and thyme in particular (bees love it too!) the garden varieties are tastier and faster growing.
 
pollinator
Posts: 723
Location: Canadian Prairies - Zone 3b
184
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My DW swears it's different, and she's the one with magical chefy spice powers. Me, I'm just a chuckwagon cook.

But I guess it depends on how much you gain for the hours invested. Sort of a thyme management issue.

(ducks)
 
gardener
Posts: 1810
Location: South of Capricorn
705
dog rabbit urban cooking writing homestead ungarbage
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
L Allen, thanks for info about pruning. I keep my thyme (and oregano) in containers and during a forgetful dry spell everything was incinerated, just started again with a few different varieties. Thinking about putting some around the base of trees in the food forest to avoid future problems....

When I first moved here I learned that people tend to use different words for the same plant (or worse, the same words for various plants). My aunt, possibly one of the best cooks I've ever known, called thyme oregano and vice versa, which led to massive confusion at first. [her fabulous mango and tomato salad, to clarify, is made with OREGANO, onions, vinegar and olive oil. Not thyme.]
 
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
In Lithuania thyme is mostly used as a medicinal tea to ease coughs. Also, I read it lowers blood pressure, and as stated above, it's anti-viral. However, unlike oregano, you shouldn't drink more than a cup or two because some compounds in it build up in the body, and it does more harm than good at excess (according to a biologist friend), whereas oregano tea is even tastier to me, and you can drink it to your heart's desire.
 
Posts: 142
Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
29
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I cut stems.  Then I process the whole shebang dry when I need it.  Stems pulverize up and it’s all used.
 
Rob Lineberger
master gardener
Posts: 789
Location: Durham, NC
278
hugelkultur gear urban cooking building writing woodworking
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'll have y'all know that yesterday I was making supper and I walked right past my oregano and snipped some thyme and just tossed it into the pot.
 
pollinator
Posts: 562
Location: West Yorkshire, UK
152
  • Likes 4
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
To save myself the bother of stripping tiny leaves, when cooking with it I cut what we call a thyme bundle (properly called a bouquet garni).  The traditional way is to combine with parsely and wrap into a leek leaf, but I generally cut a long chive strand, wrap it around a small handful of thyme stems several times and tie gently.  A small piece of string is also fine.  Goes in whole, gets taken out just before serving.  It's a lot easier to fish those stems out of dinner when they are tied together.

Thyme bundles can also be dried and then used in cooking the same way.  
 
Posts: 79
Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

L Allen wrote:I think they taste quite different too. In fact, I grow about six different thymes and four oreganos, and they're all very distinct.



I'm always looking to add more thyme varieties to my collection. I have creeping thyme, lemon thyme, and woolly thyme. (To be honest, I only really eat the creeping thyme, the others are mostly used as ground cover). Do you have any suggestions for another variety to add?
 
L Allen
Posts: 43
Location: Seattle burbs
20
hugelkultur forest garden foraging food preservation cooking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Laurie Dyer wrote:

I'm always looking to add more thyme varieties to my collection. I have creeping thyme, lemon thyme, and woolly thyme. (To be honest, I only really eat the creeping thyme, the others are mostly used as ground cover). Do you have any suggestions for another variety to add?



Laurie, there are dozens of species and cultivars around to be found. Collecting thymes can become pretty addictive! This online nursery, https://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/Thyme.htm  / Mountain Valley Growers has a good list (many of these can be found elsewhere as seed or cheaper starts, but this is a good place to start.) Some of them are admittedly hard to distinguish, especially the citrus ones; if you like thyme teas, that's the best way to appreciate some of the subtle differences.

I've found that the flavor of all the thymes really depends on microclimate, soil, and weather cycles; if they're grown too wet and too fast, they don't taste as strong or as distinct from one another. When I moved from the hot, dry south to the cool, wet northwest, I found that some of my favorite thymes (Thymus pulegoides varieties) taste sort of generically herby most years; I really have to pay careful attention to soil and sun with these.

 
Laurie Dyer
Posts: 79
Location: Suburbs Salt Lake City, Utah 6a 24 in rain 58 in snow
3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Thank you so much for the advice, will definitely check out the website!
 
pollinator
Posts: 123
Location: SE Indiana
94
  • Likes 6
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've grown lots and lots of both thyme and oregano. My reason to deal with the little leaves on thyme is because I love it in lots of dishes. Oregano by comparison tastes like grass to me. My herb of choice if I want something different from thyme in a dish is sweet marjoram, which I call oregano with flavor.

But I don't dry and store them. I keep them both along with rosemary and sage as houseplants in the south kitchen windows. The thyme and sage are fine outside all winter but having them handy inside is a little luxury I think. I don't know how many kinds of thyme we have but it is a lot and they are all good. One self seeded in the sidewalk cracks and smells wonderful when you walk on it. The leaves on that particular one are so tiny it is a real pain to harvest and use them.    
 
Posts: 29
Location: Billings, MT
4
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've always found the flavors to be wildly different.

90% of the time, I don't even bother with pulling the leaves off the stems though. Just toss a couple stems into whatever you're cooking (obviously doesn't work with every dish), let the flavor infuse, and pull the stem out before service, like a bay leaf.
 
                      
Posts: 6
purity foraging medical herbs
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Yes, of course.  Reason #1 is that it wi taste like thyme so it will not taste like oregano.  And reaaon #2 is that you can easily quickly remove the thyme leaves, compared to the thicker oregano which takes longer to remove each leaf and you can taste if the leaf-stem is attached.
 
Janet Reed
Posts: 142
Location: Dry mountains Eastern WA
29
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I just cut all my thyme for winter.  I cut the whole plants.  When they are green I process them stem and all.  When they have dried I just strip off the leaves.  No problem.  What in the WORLD is the big deal.
 
Rob Lineberger
master gardener
Posts: 789
Location: Durham, NC
278
hugelkultur gear urban cooking building writing woodworking
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

Janet Reed wrote:I just cut all my thyme for winter.  I cut the whole plants.  When they are green I process them stem and all.  When they have dried I just strip off the leaves.  No problem.  What in the WORLD is the big deal.



There isn't really a big deal. I was being sardonic.  It's a good tip about dried thyme.  I was talking about fresh, which I do find quite fiddly. But worth it in the end.
gift
 
Diego Footer on Permaculture Based Homesteads - from the Eat Your Dirt Summit
will be released to subscribers in: soon!
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic