Thyme (pronounced /ta?m/) is a well known herb; in common usage the name may refer to any or all members of the plant genus Thymus, common thyme, Thymus vulgaris, and some other species that are used as culinary herbs or for medicinal purposes. Thyme is a good source of iron and is used widely in cooking. Thyme is a basic ingredient in French, Greek, Italian, Albanian, Lebanese, Persian, Portuguese, Libyan, Spanish, Syrian, and Turkish cuisines, and in those derived from them. It is also widely used in Arab and Caribbean cuisines. Thyme is often used to flavour meats, soups and stews. It has a particular affinity to and is often used as a primary flavour with lamb, tomatoes and eggs. Thyme, while flavourful, does not overpower and blends well with other herbs and spices. In French cuisine, along with bay and parsley it is a common component of the bouquet garni, and of herbes de Provence. In some Levantine countries, the condiment za'atar (Arabic for thyme) contains thyme as a vital ingredient. Thyme is sold both fresh and dried. The fresh form is more flavourful but also less convenient; storage life is rarely more than a week. While summer-seasonal, fresh thyme is often available year-round. Fresh thyme is commonly sold in bunches of sprigs. A sprig is a single stem snipped from the plant. It is composed of a woody stem with paired leaf or flower clusters ("leaves") spaced Â½ to 1" apart. A recipe may measure thyme by the bunch (or fraction thereof), or by the sprig, or by the tablespoon or teaspoon. If the recipe does not specify fresh or dried, assume that it means fresh. Depending on how it is used in a dish, the whole sprig may be used (e.g. in a bouquet garni), or the leaves removed and the stems discarded. Usually when a recipe specifies 'bunch' or 'sprig' it means the whole form; when it specifies spoons it means the leaves. It is perfectly acceptable to substitute dried for whole thyme. Leaves may be removed from stems either by scraping with the back of a knife, or by pulling through the fingers or tines of a fork. Leaves are often chopped. Thyme retains its flavour on drying better than many other herbs. Dried, and especially powdered thyme occupies less space than fresh, so less of it is required when substituted in a recipe. As a rule of thumb, use one third as much dried as fresh thyme - a little less if it is ground. Substitution is often more complicated than that because recipes can specify sprigs and sprigs can vary in yield of leaves. Assuming a 4" sprig (they are often somewhat longer), estimate that 6 sprigs will yield one tablespoon of leaves. The dried equivalent is 1:3, so substitute 1 teaspoon of dried or Â¾ tsp of ground thyme for 6 small sprigs. As with bay, thyme is slow to release its flavours so it is usually added early in the cooking process.