You’ve found a great new recipe and are dying to try it right now. However, on closer inspection, you read that it calls for sprigs of thyme.
All you have on hand is dried thyme. What to do? Just use ¼ to ½ teaspoon of dried thyme for every sprig needed in the recipe.
Sprig of Thyme Dry Substitute Ratio
Chefs are divided as to just how much dried thyme equals a sprig of fresh thyme. Some say that ¼ of a teaspoon is fine, while others call for ½ a teaspoon. The good news is that thyme is such a mild spice that using the larger amount will not overpower all of the other ingredients in a dish.
It’s About Thyme
Thyme has been part of the human journey for thousands of years.
It’s not only versatile and tasty, but the plants are usually hardy and easy to grow.
Over the millennia, thyme has been used not only for cooking but in rituals, medicine, and popular culture.
In the popular Simon and Garfunkel song, “Scarborough Fair”, based on an old folk song, herbs are listed, including thyme.
These herbs represent different aspects of personality.
Thyme represented “courage”, which was needed by the narrator of the song, suffering from unrequited love.
It’s possible that the parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme repeated in the song were ingredients in a love spell.
In modern times, thyme is used, depending on what variety it is, as a popular garden plant and for cooking.
Fresh thyme only lasts a couple of weeks at most, while dried thyme can last for years, provided that it’s kept in a cool, dry place.
Dried thyme is usually more cost-effective to use than fresh.
Different Kinds of Thyme
Dried thyme comes in two varieties – dried and rubbed. Dried thyme consists of whole dried leaves.
Rubbed thyme is also called ground thyme, which is a more accurate name since the leaves have been ground into a fine powder.
Use about half the amount that you would use for dried thyme. You can use a little more or less, depending on individual taste.
There are many different kinds of thyme used in cooking, but the kind that recipes are talking about is Thymus vulgaris, also called garden thyme or German thyme.
Despite being called German thyme, the plant is thought to have originated in the Mediterranean. The stuff in your jar of dried thyme is from this plant.
Some recipes may specifically call for lemon thyme (Thymus citrodorus).
As its name suggests, it has a more citrus-like flavor than ordinary thyme, making it great for seafood or salads.
You can buy it dried.
The plant is relatively easy to grow, although fresh leaves only last a couple of weeks at the most if stored wrapped in damp paper towels in the refrigerator.
Using Dried Thyme as Substitute for Other Herbs
Not only can dried thyme be used in substitution for sprigs of fresh thyme, but it can be used to substitute for other herbs.
This will still give a slight change to the flavor of a dish but still makes it taste good.
Its flavor is similar to rosemary, sage, and dried basil (but not fresh basil, which has a very distinctive taste and odor.)
Use the same amount of dried thyme as you would for the other kinds of dried herbs. It can also be used to substitute for fresh herbs.
The conversion rate is one teaspoon of dried herbs for one teaspoon of fresh herbs.
Only use dried thyme as a substitute for one herb in a recipe.
Trying to use thyme to substitute for more than one herb can substantially change the taste of the dish.
Also, do not use thyme as a substitution when making a dish that has to impress others, like at a dinner party.
Try the dish yourself first to make sure it tastes all right.
If Using Sprigs of Thyme
Suppose you have enough time to get to the store and get a hold of sprigs of thyme, and you decide to use them instead of dried or ground thyme.
Do you need to pluck off every little leaf on the sprigs? Can you just throw the whole sprig into the dish?
If a recipe calls for fresh sprigs of thyme, it means that the sprigs have to be taken out of the dish before you serve it up.
Although sprigs of thyme are edible, they do not make for a pleasant dining experience, since they taste more like wood than like thyme.
Place the fresh sprigs, bay leaves, large peppercorns, or other herbs and spices in a spice bag or bouquet garni.
Otherwise, you have to fish them out before serving.
If you’re making a chunky dish like a stew, this might wind up being a frustrating experience, since the sprigs of thyme blend in with all of the other ingredients.
You can make your own spice bag if you have cheesecloth and butcher’s twine handy.
Cut a four-inch square piece, place the springs and other herbs and spices in the center, draw up the corners and tie them off with the butcher’s twine to make a pouch.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sprig of Thyme Dry Substitute Ratio
Is a Sprig of Thyme Edible?
Fresh sprigs of thyme are edible, but are not that tasty. The leaves are great, but the rest of the sprig is woody and can easily stick in between your teeth. If you are lost in the woods, starving, and come across a patch of thyme, you can eat the sprigs, but carefully.
What is a Sprig?
A sprig is a small shoot or twig bearing leaves, usually less than four inches long. It’s a word most likely derived from the Old English word “spraec.” Danish has a similar word, “sprag”.
Is Rubbed Thyme the Same as Dried Thyme?
Rubbed thyme is also called ground thyme. It is the same stuff, just in a different form. You need to use about ¾ to ½ of a teaspoon of rubbed thyme for every 1 teaspoon of dried thyme that a recipe calls for.
The Least You Need to Know
The general rule for converting sprigs of fresh thyme to dried thyme is to use ¼ to ½ teaspoon for every sprig needed.
The good thing about thyme is that it is mild, so do not worry about using too much, as long as you do not throw the whole jar in the dish.
Thyme is a versatile herb that’s great to always have on hand in your pantry.