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How Much Is in a Bunch of Thyme?

By Anna B. Smith
Updated May 16, 2024
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A "bunch of thyme" typically refers to a small collection of sprigs, usually four to five, freshly picked from a thriving plant. When comparing fresh thyme to dried thyme, the general rule of thumb is to use one-third the amount of dried thyme since dried herbs are more concentrated in flavor. This means that a teaspoon of dried thyme is roughly equivalent to a tablespoon of fresh thyme. 

However, the potency of thyme can vary, and you may need to adjust the quantity of dried thyme if fresh isn't available. Tailoring the amount to your personal taste and the specific dish is key, ensuring that the thyme complements rather than overpowers your culinary creation.

Thyme grows as a low bush and may be found in an outdoor garden setting or indoors as a container plant. Each stem contains a large number of small, dark green, fragrant leaves than may be picked individually from the long, reed like stalk. These leaves may be added fresh to recipes, or dried and stored for future use.

Four to five sprigs cut from the bush may be used to constitute one bunch of thyme. Each sprig may be between six and ten inches (15.24 and 25.4 centimeters) in length. Once a small flower shape has appeared at the top of the stem, it has generally reached its maximum height. Flowering sprigs should be cut and used first to make room for new shoots.

The act of plucking each leaf from the stem of the sprigs used in a bunch of thyme can be time consuming. The leaves tend to create a sticky residue on fingers during the removal process. Some cooks prefer to allow sprigs to dry for a period of several days prior to using. Leaves then fall off quickly when shaken roughly, or by running the thumb and forefinger down the length of the stem. Once removed, leaves are ready for use directly in recipes and are of a small size negating the need for cutting.

One fresh bunch of thyme is roughly equivalent to one teaspoon of dried thyme. When referenced in a recipe, this type of measurement is often meant to be an approximation. The amount of thyme used may be altered by the cook to suit her tastes. This herb is commonly used in both red and white sauces, and in slow cookers to flavor stew beef, veal, and lamb. Thyme is also a foundational flavor used in pot roasts to compliment both the beef and potatoes and carrots that are allowed to simmer in the meat's juices.

FAQ on Bunch of Thyme

How much does a typical bunch of thyme weigh?

A standard bunch of thyme typically weighs around 1 ounce (28 grams). However, the weight can vary slightly depending on the size of the bunch and the supplier. It's important to note that when recipes call for a "bunch" of thyme, they are often referring to a small handful or a loosely packed cup of thyme sprigs, which is generally sufficient for most culinary uses.

How many tablespoons of thyme can you get from one bunch?

From one bunch of thyme, you can expect to get approximately 3 to 6 tablespoons of fresh leaves once the stems are removed. This can vary based on the size of the bunch and the density of the leaves. When substituting dried thyme for fresh, a common ratio is 1 tablespoon of fresh equals about 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, due to the concentrated flavor of the dried herb.

What is the shelf life of a fresh bunch of thyme?

Fresh thyme can last about 1 to 2 weeks when stored properly in the refrigerator. To extend its shelf life, wrap the thyme loosely in a damp paper towel and place it inside a plastic bag before refrigerating. For longer storage, thyme can be dried or frozen, with dried thyme having a shelf life of up to 3 years when stored in a cool, dark place in an airtight container.

Can you use the stems of thyme, or should you only use the leaves?

The leaves of thyme are the most commonly used part of the plant due to their concentrated flavor. However, the stems of young thyme plants are tender enough to be used in cooking and can be added to soups, stews, or stocks where they have time to soften. Woody stems from older thyme should be removed before eating but can still be used to infuse flavor into dishes during cooking and then discarded.

Is there a difference in flavor between thyme sold in bunches and pre-packaged thyme?

Fresh thyme sold in bunches is typically more flavorful and aromatic than pre-packaged thyme, as it is often fresher and has been handled less. Pre-packaged thyme may have lost some of its potency due to the time elapsed from packaging to purchase and the conditions in which it was stored. For the best flavor, it's recommended to use thyme as fresh as possible, ideally straight from a bunch.

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Discussion Comments

By sunshined — On Jul 04, 2011

Whenever I refer to a bunch of thyme I consider how much I can fit into one fist. When I go to my garden to harvest some thyme with my scissors, I cut enough sprigs that I can hold in one hand and consider that a bunch.

I can take this bunch and hang upside down for drying or use it fresh. Either way, you can be sure you are using a delicious herb!

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