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Saturday, March 19, 2016

How to De-Stem Thyme

So, if you're like me, you love fresh green herbs, but detest the prep work involved in using them.

Some herbs are easy.

Basil, for example.

Wash, dry, chop (or not).

Oregano as well.  I usually chop oregano though, cause the stems can be a bit of a mouthful.

But there are some herbs which are just a freakin' bitch.

And other than Rosemary, Thyme has got to be one of the worst.


I always commit to it though, because the rewards are worth the effort.


If you're experienced with this (or just smart enough to figure it out) I apologize for talking about something with which you are already very well acquainted.

If you're a thyme noob, though... or by some chance have never figured this out... I'll show you my technique for making large batches of thyme ready for consumption.

And in a matter of a few minutes can turn this:

Into this:

So, first separate the thyme into individual sprigs/stems.

Then, with your thumb and forefinger of each hand pinch the dense but thin end right beside each other.

Gently and slowly run your pinched fingers down the length, basically running the opposite direction to the natural growth direction of the leaves.  This essentially snaps each 'branch' back on to itself.

They should just pop right off.

Each stem of thyme seems to have a weak spot for about the top 1/8 or so of its length.  Try not to just rip that off, but it will happen.  I'd say at least half the time I end up just popping the top off.  It's not really a big deal, when that happens I just pinch the next top-most spot available.

Anyway... a picture says a thousand words, so I compiled a moving picture.  A movie if you will.


I hope it helps illustrate what I'm talking about.

In any case, that's the stripping part.

You'll still be left with little bits of stem, but at least this gets rid of the large stem(s).

The little, softer, greener, and more malleable 'stems' I usually just CHOP.


When I was younger and had more time on my hands, I might sometimes fall down a 'de-stemming thyme' hole.  But now, I just get the 'woody' stems out of the way, and then just go to town on what's left with my chef's knife.

These 'stems' are not really too bad.  Why do I say that?  Because they're still soft enough to chop nicely.

In the end, and after all your hard work, you can have a nice, somewhat fine, relatively uniform pile of fresh thyme!

To be put in anything cheesy, meaty, or even tomatoe-y, thyme is one of my favourite herbs, especially for french cuisine.