How To Store Fresh Thyme: All The Answers

Thyme is a Mediterranean herb that is commonly used in cooking. Like most herbs, thyme tastes best when it’s fresh, but it’s not always possible to use it when it’s fresh.

Anyone that routinely cooks with fresh herbs knows that they can get expensive really fast. Fresh herbs don’t last long, so if you want to always use them, you’re going to be constantly buying them.

So, how do we solve this?

The answer is simple, really. We need to learn how to properly store thyme. Whether we’re storing fresh thyme, dried thyme, or frozen thyme, there are ways to make all of them last longer. We’ll explore that here as well as whether thyme goes bad and how long it lasts.

Want to know the difference between using fresh and dried thyme? Read my full comparison and substitution amounts here.

Does Thyme Go Bad?

Yes, thyme does go bad, just like any food product will go bad.

Fresh thyme is only going to be good for about a week or two, even when stored properly.

Dried and frozen thyme can last about 6 months when stored properly. Improper storage will drastically reduce the shelf life, though. We’ll get into that later.

How Can You Tell If Thyme Is Bad?

When preparing dried or frozen thyme, you should always label and date your packages. Technically, you can get away with using them for up to a year, but they probably won’t have much flavor. I recommend tossing dried and frozen thyme after 6 months.

But what if you haven’t dated your thyme?

Dried thyme doesn’t necessarily “go bad”, but it will lose its flavor and aroma after a long time. If you’re not sure how old your dried thyme is, try the sniff and taste test. Crush some of the dried thyme between your fingers and smell it, then give it a taste. If you can’t taste or smell much, it’s time to discard it.

If you don’t know how old your frozen thyme is, it’s likely okay as long as you don’t see any obvious freezer-burnt parts.

It’s a lot easier to tell when fresh thyme has gone bad. The thyme will be soft to the touch and will feel slimy. If only small sections are like this, you can always cut them off and use the stuff that’s still good. Thyme has also gone bad if you notice wilting.

Exactly How To Store Thyme

You may be wondering how to preserve fresh thyme. Thyme is going to last a lot longer when it’s stored properly verses when it’s left to fend for itself.

Option 1: Store In The Fridge

So, how do you store fresh thyme? The best way to store fresh thyme is always in the refrigerator.

If you leave your thyme sitting out at room temperature, it’s going to go bad in just one or two days. Keeping your thyme in the fridge will keep it fresh for about two weeks.

To help your refrigerated thyme last even longer in the fridge, you should place it in a bag with a wet paper towel. Use a Ziplock bag that you can close and seal. The damp paper towel will help the thyme retain its moisture and prevent it from going bad so quickly.

Option 2: Dry The Thyme

Drying your leftover fresh thyme will significantly increase the shelf life of the herb. Dried thyme can last for up to 6 months and still be good.

There are five different ways that you can dry thyme: air-dry by hanging, air-dry with a tray, with an oven, with a microwave, or with a dehydrator.

Dried thyme
Dried thyme

Air-Dry: Hanging

This is the most eco-friendly option because you only need some string to tie up your sprigs. It also takes the longest, though, as it can take up to two weeks for your thyme to fully dry. You also shouldn’t use this method if you live in a cold or humid environment.

Air-Dry: Tray

This method is a bit quicker; it only takes about 2-3 days for the leaves to dry. You’ll line a baking sheet with some parchment paper and allow the leaves to air-dry on the sheet. This method is also not suitable if you live in a cold or humid environment.

Oven

This method is great if you don’t have a dehydrator because it’s fairly quick. It only takes about 1-2 hours, but you do have to be careful not to overcook the leaves. Keep the oven at 150 degrees Fahrenheit maximum, and keep the door propped to let out any moisture.

Read more about drying thyme in the oven here.

Microwave

This is the quickest method because you can have dried herbs in under a minute. However, you need to be careful not to overcook the herbs. You’re also going to lose some flavor with this method.

Read more about drying thyme in the microwave here.

Dehydrator

This is honestly the best method because it’s quick, only taking about 2-4 hours, but you don’t have to worry about your leaves drying out. Dehydrators dry herbs at a low temperature that preserves the flavor and aroma. This method can also be costly, though, because you’ll need to purchase a dehydrator.

Storage

Now you’re probably wondering how to store dried thyme. It isn’t difficult to do, but it can make all the difference for how long your dried herb will last.

Thyme has two natural enemies that you need to avoid: moisture and light.

Light is the lesser of two evils and is easily avoided. Light will cause your thyme to lose flavor more quickly, so you should store your thyme in a dark cupboard.

Moisture is the worst thing that can happen to your thyme because it will cause mold. Fortunately, this is easy to prevent as well. First, make sure that your thyme is completely dry before storing it. If you’re not sure, check on it every day for three days. If there is any moisture left, you will notice condensation. In this case, you simply need to dry your thyme longer.

Assuming that your thyme is completely dry, you’ll now want to avoid any moisture getting into your herb. Simply make sure that you choose a container with a lid that is airtight. This will also prevent pests from getting in.

Another important thing to note is that you should choose a glass container. Avoid plastic which is often porous. Porous materials will absorb any essential oils that the thyme has stored. Essential oils give thyme it’s flavor and aroma. Without them, the thyme is useless.

To learn more about these drying methods, check out our full article here.

Option 3: Freeze The Thyme

If you want your fresh thyme to last more than a couple weeks, freezing is also an option. Freezing is similar to drying in that frozen thyme will be good for about 6 months. After 6 months, it will naturally begin to lose its flavor and aroma.

If you want to freeze your thyme, you can do so by blanching it, flash freezing it, or making it into ice cubes.

Blanching

To blanch thyme, you’re going to boil it for 45 seconds before moving it to a cold-water bath for 10 minutes. After drying it, you can then store it in a freezer bag.

Blanching your fresh thyme is the best option if you want to preserve the texture and color of the herb along with the flavor. Blanching is great if you make a lot of soups, chowders, or stir-fries.

Flash Freeze

Flash Freezing is a good method to keep your herbs separated. Oftentimes, when you freeze herbs and veggies, they freeze together and then it’s difficult to only break off the amount that you actually need. Flash freezing avoids this and makes it easy to only get as much as you need.

To flash freeze, you’re going to separate the leaves from the stems. You’ll line a baking sheet with wax paper and lay the leaves on the paper in a single layer. They can then be frozen in the freezer for easy, individual freezing.

Ice Cubes

Making your herbs into ice cubes is a great option if you like to have things pre-portioned. When you’re ready to use the ice cubes, you don’t need to thaw them, you can just put them directly into the meal you’re cooking.

Most people make their ice cubes with a combination of water and oil which helps preserve the herbs for longer. It’s also a nifty method because you can create a combination of spices inside every ice cube.

Storage

The main thing you need to worry about when storing frozen thyme is freezer burning. Always keep your frozen thyme stored within a Ziplocked freezer bag for protection. Make sure to squeeze any air out of the bag and seal it before storing.

Even if you choose the ice cube method, you should still use a freezer bag. Simply remove the ice cubes from the tray and transfer them to the bag.

To learn more about these freezing methods, check out our full article here.

How Long Does Thyme Last?

How long thyme lasts depends on how it’s prepared and stored.

Fresh thyme will only last for 2-3 days at room temperature, but can last for 1-2 weeks when refrigerated.

Dried thyme can last for up to 6 months when stored in a dark location in an air-tight container.

Frozen thyme can last for up to 6 months when kept in a freezer bag.

When Stored Like This…Fresh Thyme Can Last For…
In the Refrigerator1-2 Weeks
At Room Temperature2-3 Days
DriedUp to 6 Months
FrozenUp to 6 Months
How Long Will Thyme Stay Good?

Final Words

If you want your fresh thyme to last for a while, it’s always best to store it properly. If you keep it at room temperature, it’s going to go bad in a couple days, and then you’ll have to throw it out. If you keep it in the refrigerator inside a bag, you can extend the life to 1-2 weeks.

Drying or freezing thyme is an even better option. These are great options for preserving your leftover fresh thyme. When stored correctly, frozen or dried thyme can last for up to 6 months and still taste good.

Next time you’re worried about your fresh thyme going bad, don’t! You now know the best way to store thyme.

Want to learn more? Click here to learn how big thyme grows or here for what you can do with thyme flowers. You can also find all my guides to growing thyme here.