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It's Parsley thyme!
Since I've already done Rosemary and Sage, this feature in the herb series will complete our trip to Scarborough fair :)
Yes, that little sprig of green stuff restaurants put on the plate that most people just ignore is incredibly edible and tasty! The reason it's there is that parsley was often chewed as a breath freshener long before the days of Certs and Tic-Tacs. It also contains properties that promote healthy skin and can be infused as a tea to aid digestion. It's digestive properties probably contributed to it's presence on the plate as well.
There are two common forms of this plant grown for culinary use, Curly parsley and Italian or flat leaved parsley. There is also a third and less known variety called Hamburg parsley that forms a large tuberous root that can be cooked like a vegetable.
Historically the ancient Greeks used parsley as a medicinal herb and ceremonially to crown the winners of the Isthmian games and to decorate tombs. Their warriors are said to have fed it to their horses to make them strong and healthy. The ancient Romans ate tons of the stuff and made garlands for their banquet guests to discourage drunkenness and cut down on foul odors. Hey! You're drunk and you stink! Eat some parsley doggone it! Hehe .
Growing parsley is pretty simple given a half day of sun or better and any good rich garden soil with good drainage. A spot where you've worked the soil to at least a foot deep will help the plants prosper since they do tend to be deep rooted especially if growing Hamburg parsley for a root crop.
Some other uses for parsley besides the basic soup, salads, potatoes and sauces
Parsley the rose bush helper! Parsley has been used planted next to rose bushes to keep them healthy and improve their fragrance.
Parsley the hair tonic! Infused in water it's been used as a conditioning rinse.
Parsley the hand lotion! Parsley has been added to facial steams and lotions to soothe dry skin and minimize freckles. Hmmmm may have to try that :) nahhhh, I like my freckles! Hehe
It's rich content of vitamins and minerals have also seen it used as an infusion to soothe tired eyes as an eyebath.
Well, with all that good stuff from this tasty herb I'll not be sparsely when planting parsley!
Thyme--- (Thymus species)
To cover the wide range of varieties in this genus would take some thyme indeed!
The species used most often for culinary and
medicinal purposes are the common forms, Thymus vulgaris (common
thyme) and Thymus serpyllum (English wild thyme). I guess you've
just gotta hand it to the Brit's for having a wild thyme! Hehe
Thyme as with many herbs mentioned in this series has been popular for thousands of years.
The ancient Greeks considered it to a compliment to be said to "smell of thyme". So when the English were having a wild thyme the Greeks were having a smelly one. :) I'm not sure if they were doing it at the same thyme though . Yuk, yuk .
There is a Greek word, thymon meaning courage, that may have contributed to the name of the genus.
Ancient Roman soldiers would bathe in thyme water to give themselves vigor. Probably so they could go to England for a wild thyme, ya think?
The middle ages saw ladies of the court sewing a sprig of the herb on tokens for their Knights-errant.
I'm sure they had a wild thyme too gallivanting around the countryside in those tin cans they wore.
I'll bet they could have used some parsley and lavender to cut down the stink when they finally climbed out that getup!
The mid 1600's saw thyme used in soup with beer as a remedy for shyness. I don't know how much the thyme had to do with it, more than likely it was the beer :) Scottish highlanders of the same era drank it as tea for strength, courage and prevention of nightmares perhaps as a result of having the aforementioned wild thyme in England hmmm? :) The English of the period were using it in a concoction to "see the fairies".
I'll bet they WERE having a wild thyme indeed!
The ancient Egyptians used it as a part of their embalming process and to this day it's extract is still used for this purpose due to it's preservative properties. Nothing like running home to mummy after having just a little to wild a thyme huh? :)
Needless to say this herb has been used for quite some thyme. :)
For we the gardeners of the emerging 21st century Common thyme is most often used in cooking as an additive to stocks, marinades, stuffings , sauces and soups. It can also be used sparingly to flavor foods cooked slowly in wine like poultry, shellfish and wild game. Did somebody mention groundhog? Nope, not me :)
English wild thyme has the strongest medicinal
properties and so is the form most often used for these purposes
although any form of thyme can be used. As a tea it is used as
a digestive tonic and for hangovers after having the previously
mentioned wild thyme with the British or anyone else for that
Thyme tea mixed with honey is used for cough, colds and sore throats. Thyme oil is used as a massage for headaches. Essential oil is used as an antiseptic air spray. Thyme is also said to relieve insomnia, poor capillary circulation, muscular pain, and stimulate the production of white blood cells to resist infection.
Thymes like to grow in light, well drained
alkaline soil and prefer full sun.
This species also acclimates well as a windowsill potted herb.
There are litterally dozens of varieties of
thyme commercially produced for garden sale so if you've got space
and thyme collect a few and have yourself a thyme!
After all it's considerably more practical than pokemon :)
Hey, I'll trade ya two squirtles and a butterfree
for a pikachu
Just kidding :)
'til next thyme,