Thymus vulgaris L.


The Latin name Thymus comes from the Greek Thymos, which means “smoke” or even from Thio which means “I perfume”. This reminds us of the aromatic nature of many thymes, including the common thyme, which was used as incense.

The botanical genus Thymus is present mainly on the Mediterranean rim and contains nearly 350 species which are for the most sub-shrubs.

Some species are widely distributed, such as thyme “serpolet”, Thymus serpyllum, present from Scandinavia to northern Africa, or Thymus capitatus, seen from southern Spain to Turkey. Others grow only on restricted areas such as the thyme of Granada, Thymus granatensis, which is present only in the mountainous massifs of Andalusia.

In France, it is mainly the common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, which is used, as much for cooking as for natural medicine. It is abundant in a large southeast quarter where it grows in dry and rocky areas.

It is the “farigoule” of the Provençals, a symbol of the region and cherished by Marcel Pagnol: “I left the road, I ran to touch their little leaves. A powerful perfume rose like a cloud, and enveloped me entirely. It was an unknown smell, a dark, sustained smell that flourished in my head and penetrated my heart. It was thyme, which grows on the gravel of the Garrigues,” The glory of my father.

In nature there are very various smells of common thyme, as there are different chemical types depending on the molecule dominant in the essential oil: linalol (sweet, flower or fruit like smell), thymol (pungent and powerful smell), etc.

These thymes will have different odors and tastes, even if they look the same. In the kitchen, Provençal thyme is widely used for its powerful and pungent aromatic taste that is suitable for all salted preparations, meat, fish or vegetables. This Provence thyme will soon benefit from a PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) in order to enhance this heritage. The other types of thyme bring different aromatic notes that are suitable for desserts and pastries (see recipe).

In herbalism, thyme is a major plant for all infectious states. The essential oil contained in the plant is indeed a powerful antibacterial. But thyme also acts at other levels which allows to have a global action on the organism and not just on the agent responsible for the disease. This plant acts on three levels:

Upstream: it stimulates the immunity and corrects the ground that allowed the infection to settle.

On the disease itself: it fights bacteria and viruses.

Downstream: Thyme is a tonic that will promote recovery and accelerate healing by restoring energy to the body.

It is a perfect example of what is sought after in phytotherapy, hence its frequent use.

Crème brûlée with thyme

4 egg yolks
40 cl whole cream
4 tbsp honey
1 bunch fresh thyme

Preheat oven to 120 ° for 10 min.
Bring the cream to a boil with the thyme
Cut the fire and let infuse 15 minutes, filter with a chinese colander
Whisk the egg yolks with 4 tablespoons of honey.
Gradually stir in the beaten eggs with the honey.
Pour the cream obtained in ramekins and cook in water bath 1 H 30 to 110 °. The texture should be fixed but trembling.
Let cool and keep cool for 3 hours.
Sprinkle the sugar over the creams and flambé under the grill of your oven.

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