Chef Aaron Egan provides a method to keep some thyme freshness along with you into the winter.
Fresh food is one of the most wonderful parts of summertime in Michigan, and since the dead of winter looms ever large in the distance, I’m always thinking about good ways to preserve those fresh flavors well past the snowy depths of January.
Fresh thyme is one of my favorite herbs. I run my hands through the plant daily because it’s so evocative a perfume for me, reeking of kitchen work and simmering stocks.
I also love the freshness of thyme, though we so rarely utilize it for this quality. Thyme is so frequently used as an herb in long-cooked, boiled, simmered or stewed dishes, let alone its place of honor for roasting and saucing; we don’t use fresh thyme as often as fresh parsley or cilantro or basil.
Here’s a method to keep some thyme freshness along with you into the winter:
Thyme and Blueberry Shrub
- 12 oz. (by weight) blueberries, washed
- 6-10 stems thyme (depending on size, a small bunch) washed
- 1½ cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup vinegar (white works, but if you have a champagne or a mild white wine vinegar, it can also be very good here)
1. Combine berries and thyme in a glass or ceramic bowl, and mash them together gently. It’s just about bruising the thyme and opening the berries.
2. Add the sugar and mix well. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit overnight at room temperature to macerate.
3. Transfer the macerated berries, thyme and sugar into a nonreactive saucepan and add the vinegar. Heat over medium-high heat until just simmering when the sugar will dissolve fully. Immediately remove from the heat.
4. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a nonreactive container for storage. This mixture will be syrupy when cool and will keep for several months in the fridge.
5. Dose about 1-2 Tbsp. of shrub for an 8-10-oz. glass of seltzer and enjoy one of the original refreshers from before we called it pop.
Chef Aaron blogs about his garden on the Facebook page of the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue. Reprinted with permission.