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3 Ways With... Thyme

With the summer solstice just passed, it's an important time to leave the old behind and make way for the new. As well as having fantastic culinary uses, thyme is an important ritualistic herb that can be used in ceremonies to help clear energy and begin anew.

The name derives from the Greek word for incense 'thymiama' and courage 'thymos', which makes sense as the herb may be burned in rituals to encourage strength and bravery.

Medicinally, thyme is a natural antiseptic, and can be used in tea for digestion and helping sore throats. It can also be used as a compress on wounds by mixing together thyme and water and wrapping it in a cloth to make a poultice.

I experimented with some of Hooksgreen's thyme varieties to make a fresh summer cocktail, crispy potato fritters and an irresistible nectarine panna cotta.

Fresh Ginger & Thyme Cocktail

Once you've made the simple thyme syrup, you can use it to add to any of your favourite drinks. Think gin & thyme, thyme lemonades, thyme and tonic... This time I've mixed it with ginger for a zingy and refreshing summer beverage, with or without the alcohol!

For the syrup
  • 1 cup (any cup) sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • A small handful of thyme
For the cocktail
  • 50ml thyme syrup
  • 200ml ginger beer
  • 50ml your choice of spirit such as white rum, vodka
  • Lemon slice
  • Ice cubes
  • To make the syrup, add the sugar and water to a saucepan on medium heat and let the sugar dissolve
  • Add the thyme and let steep on a low heat for up to half an hour
  • Strain the liquid through a fine sieve to remove the thyme leaves and store in a lidded jar in the fridge
  • For the cocktail, select a pretty glass of your choice and fill with ice cubes, pour over the syrup, vodka and ginger beer and stir. Add the slice of lemon and enjoy!

Thyme & Courgette Rostis

It seems that every country has a national dish that includes potatoes, and this one comes from Switzerland. Originally served for breakfast but now deemed appropriate as a side dish to any meal, or even a meal itself, these potato fritters will leave you full and satisfied with their saltiness, gooey yet crisp.

Thyme & Courgette Rostis
  • 4 medium sized potatoes
  • 1 large courgette
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • A few sprigs of thyme
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Olive oil
  • Grate the potatoes and courgette and place into a colander. Squeeze out as much liquid as you can from the mixture to help the patties stick together
  • Thinly slice the onion and add to the mix along with a beaten egg, 2 tablespoons of flour, some chopped thyme and plenty of salt and pepper
  • Heat a generous amount of olive oil in a large frying pan, and start to form the patties by taking small handfuls of the picture and pressing them into small burger shapes
  • When the oil is hot, add the patties one by one and let crisp, around five minutes on either side
  • Serve with fresh green salad, mayonnaise and a sprinkle of extra thyme leaves

Lemon Thyme Panna Cotta With Sliced Nectarines

Try your hand at a slightly more gourmet dessert this summer and impress your guests with these beautiful panna cottas adorned with fresh thyme and seasonal fruit.

Lemon Thyme Panna Cotta With Sliced Nectarines

Makes 4 panna cottas

  • 114 teaspoons flavourless gelatine
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 300ml heavy cream
  • 240ml yoghurt
  • 60ml honey
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 3 nectarines
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Small handful fresh lemon thyme leaves
  • Preheat the oven to 200°C
  • Place the two tablespoons of water in a heavy saucepan and sprinkle over the powdered gelatine, let stand for one minute then add the cream and a pinch of salt. Heat over low-medium for about five minutes, stirring gently until gelatine has dissolved
  • Whisk the honey, yoghurt and scraped vanilla pod together then add to the cream mixture
  • Pour into 4-5 cups or ramekins and refrigerate until set (this should take about 8 hours)
  • When ready to serve, chop the lemon thyme and mix with the sugar, then cover the sliced nectarines with the mix. Toss occasionally and let macerate for around twenty minutes
  • Upturn the panna cottas onto a plate if desired and cover with the juicy nectarines. You can also eat them straight out of the bowls, or top with other soft seasonal fruits such as cherries, apricots or raspberries

Recipes created by Elena Pollen

Elena is a creative writer who has written for Quinteassential, The Permaculture Research Institute and The Organization for World Peace, as well as maintaining her own blog about permaculture living. She believes in local and organic food practices and follows a vegetarian lifestyle.