What is growing on my window sill?
May 26, 2013 4:58 AM   Subscribe

Can you help me identify this herb with the tiny leaves and big taste? The largest leaves are around .25" / .5 cm, and it tastes lemony, peppery, zesty, kind of sharp.

Sorry for the mostly dark photos, but they should give an idea of the plant structure. I added a butter knife for scale, and on the far right (in reddish pot) is a small-leaf basil, if that helps at all to give an idea of the difference in leaf size.

I'm guessing it might be lemon thyme, based on a couple of images I've found. Does this seem right? And if so, how do you use it? I found some recipes on google, and have my own ideas, but welcome your personal tips.
posted by taz to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was going to say lemon thyme. It's wonderful stuff. I often like to poach chicken and place branches of lemon thyme under the skin (and then remove the branches after). Good to chop up some and add to chicken salad, potato salad, even tuna salad too...anywhere you want some zesty flavor. Hell, probably even be good in shortbread cookies. I just love it.
posted by iamkimiam at 5:05 AM on May 26, 2013 [2 favorites]

Looks like lemon thyme to me! It makes a nice rub aong with salt, pepper and olive oil for chicken or tossed with parsley and butter on boiled new potatoes. Somewhere I saw a recipe for lemon thyme bars, too!

On preview iamkimiam seems to agree!
posted by idest at 5:07 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I was gonna say thyme too.
posted by catatethebird at 5:18 AM on May 26, 2013

Probably thyme, but some varieties of oregano look similar.
posted by jon1270 at 5:22 AM on May 26, 2013

I'm thinking thyme as well. Some oreganos do have that leaf structure, but I've never grown any that have that leggy branching habit. Oreganos tend to form a bush. This grows like a non-creeping thyme such as lemon, and the fragrance sounds like a match too.

I also find that the taste of oregano immediately says to many people 'pizza sauce.' So if you put it in your mouth and don't immediately think "pizza sauce," but think instead "inexplicable complicated woodsy pungent flavor that would be delicious on some marinated goat cheese," that alone argues for thyme.
posted by Miko at 5:58 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Totally thyme. I put fresh thyme in everything. It's great in soup, and with vegetables—anything where you want a fresh herby kick.

You can also make a thyme syrup, just by adding whole "branches" (stems and leaves) as you begin boiling a simple syrup. When the syrup is done, discard the thyme (and strain the syrup if any little bits fell off), and use it to sweeten lemonade, cocktails, fancy soda made with seltzer, etc.
posted by BrashTech at 6:13 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

N-thing thyme.
posted by bebrave! at 6:18 AM on May 26, 2013

One thing that might help is if you've seen the flowers. According to my herbs and spices reference book, Lemon thyme has mauve-pink flowers, common thyme has white or pale lilac, and lemon-scented thyme has light pink. Of the three it looks most like Lemon thyme to me though.

I've had lemon thyme cookies that were fantastic, which isn't something I would've thought of. Oh, and you could make a compound butter with it. That would be yummy.
posted by Gygesringtone at 6:32 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: No flowers yet, but that's helpful! I will be looking for that.
posted by taz at 6:46 AM on May 26, 2013

I grow both thyme and oregano, and that is definitely thyme. The best herb ever! Its umami flavor profile makes it the perfect herb for adding a "meaty" flavor to vegetarian dishes. (Lemon thyme, specifically, is particularly great on roasted potatoes.)

It also contains thymol, a natural anti-microbial agent, which means you can use an infusion of thyme to make your own pleasantly scented household cleaners.

The Ancient Egyptians used thyme to embalm mummies. The Ancient Greeks used dried thyme as incense. In 18th century Europe, thyme was recommended as a hangover remedy.

If you like the lemon thyme you have now, you might also want to try growing English thyme, which has a more savory, less citrus-y flavor profile that is very handy for flavoring soups, stews, poultry, and stuffing. It requires similar growing conditions to lemon thyme, so if you stick a pot of English thyme right next to your lemon thyme and treat it the same way, it should do well for you.
posted by BlueJae at 8:16 AM on May 26, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have a pot of this lemon thyme growing out on the front porch. It's great with roasted vegetables and yes, it will get tiny pink flowers on it.
posted by alltomorrowsparties at 8:49 PM on May 27, 2013

« Older Did Handel really say this?   |   Modest Mountain Bike for Student@CU Boulder Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.