Pebrella. Very Mediterranean and not so well known

One of the virtues of the Spanish Mediterranean diet is the variety in its meals. From north to south of this great peninsula, we can find hundreds of dishes, typical of each place, that make up this award-winning diet by chefs from all over the globe.

Well, precisely what makes a gastronomic culture great has its part in the seasonings, and therefore, its flavors. Pebrella is a wild aromatic plant from the Mediterranean, very Levantine that little is known if you leave the Costa del Sol.

WHY IS PEBRELLA SO LITTLE KNOWN?

We all have the most varied spices in the kitchen. From the most common such as parsley, basil, pepper, bay leaf, oregano to the most exotic that come to us from the ends of the planet such as nutmeg or curry.

However, many of the aromatics that we do not know we have a few kilometers from home. This is the case of the pebrella. It exists in Spain but, if it is not so well known, it is because it is really not very easy to find it so that it has become popular.

Its habitat is the Mediterranean region but the increase in droughts and average temperatures has led to its decline. It is found in the northernmost mountains of the Levantine area (Valencia, Alicante and Murcia mainly).

There is less and less in the wild, being declared a protected species . We just have to take a look at the GBIF.org page where the biodiversity citations of practically every bug known to date are collected. As you can see, the endemism of this species is amazing.

Pebrella distribution in Spain. Species citations obtained from GBIF.org database

BASIC BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS

Pebrella is from the thyme family . It is as thyme as the classic thyme ( Thymus vulgaris ), but endemic to these areas. Its scientific name is Thymus piperella. It is found in mountain, rocky, and limestone areas mainly. Like common thyme, it is a woody plant about 30cm tall. It is a rustic plant, tolerant to droughts although, if they are very long, it may not survive. In fact, the lack of rainfall in recent decades is diminishing its presence.

WHAT TAKES ADVANTAGE OF THE PEBRELLA AND WHERE DO I USE IT?

As thyme that it is, only the fresh or dried leaves are consumed . The best time to harvest is just before flowering which occurs during the summer months (July, August and September).

The time before flowering is when the leaves have the highest concentration of essential oils.

It is used in game meats, marinades, sauces, rice dishes, stews … endless recipes but the key dishes where it is not usually lacking in Mediterranean regions is in Manchego gazpacho and olive dressings . It abounds a lot in these preparations.

Prebella leaf detail

PEBRELLA PROPERTIES

Studies have been done characterizing the components of its essential oils and, as in almost any thyme, its bactericidal and therefore food preservative characteristic has been corroborated. In the end, spices are still a form of preservative in their original idea.

The taste and the effects they have on the foods in which we add them are secondary. Let’s take a little parenthesis on the subject and talk about this.

THIS IS A LITTLE PARENTHESIS

What I am going to tell you now is more of a personal reflection that has nothing to do with pebrella but has to do with aromatic plants.

All preparations, dressings, healing processes, etc. that have been around for centuries are just ways to preserve foods that are in season so that you can eat them during times when they are not available.

The fact of adding salt, spices, preserving in oil, drying, smoking, curing, adding sugar, preserving, making butters, cheeses, pickles with vinegar… everything, absolutely everything, are forms of preservation.

The organoleptic transformations were a consequence rather than an end .

With current technology we could completely do without all these preservation systems, existing freezing and refrigeration. But now, what attracts us to all this is the transformation of flavors, aromas and organoleptic characteristics in general. We keep dressing, we keep curing, making pickles, cheeses, meats, canned vegetables because we like it, not out of necessity.

NOW LET’S GET BACK TO THE ESSENTIAL OILS OF PEBRELLA

In a 2012 study, pebrella was compared with another species of thyme ( Thymus moroderi ) to characterize the type of essential oils and their antibacterial activity in a bacterial culture agar test. The conclusions of the study were that pebrella had better antibacterial power than its rival in the study and the main composition of its essential oils was mainly compounds of the terpene family that have antimicrobial effects:

  • 32% carvacrol, a terpene compound that prevents the growth of Escherechia coli or Bacillus cereus for example. This compound is also found in oregano.
  • 16% p-cymene, another terpene, in particular an aromatic ring also responsible for the aforementioned effects.
  • 10% Gamma-terpinene

[badge style = »green»] Here is a link to the study. [/ badge]

WHERE CAN I GET THIS PEPPER THYME?

Well, taking into account that it is an increasingly less abundant and protected species, you should not take it wild. Perhaps in herbal shops you can get it from crops intended for its production. Here we give you a couple of options so you can buy it.

One of the options is a preparation of various spices widely used in Manchego gazpacho as we have mentioned before. The second is already 100% pebrella

Welcome to The GardenPure! My name is Ryan Heagle, and I’m the founder of The GardenPure, I spent the first part of my adult life teaching and then living in Australia in various business ventures, the first of which was a business devoted to the sale of house plants.  I am now a full time blogger. I am a self taught gardener.

Ryan Heagle

Welcome to The GardenPure! My name is Ryan Heagle, and I’m the founder of The GardenPure, I spent the first part of my adult life teaching and then living in Australia in various business ventures, the first of which was a business devoted to the sale of house plants.  I am now a full time blogger. I am a self taught gardener.

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