The taste of tijmsiroop always brings back a particular memory from my Dutch childhood. I must have been around eight or nine years old. It's cold outside, and it's late in the evening. It's a school day but I'm pretending to not feel very good. My throat hurts a little. "Mom," I call out, "my throat hurts. I don't think I can go to school tomorrow." I even try to make my voice sound a bit raspy, a bit scratchy. For good measure, I throw in a cough or two: uche-uche.... "See? I think I'm too sick for school." 

My mom, of course, is not deceived by my pathetic theatrics. I can't see her but I'm sure she's rolling her eyes at me. Another bout of fake coughing..uche-uche-uche... this time a bit louder so I can be sure she hears me. "Mama! I'm still coughing. Maybe I could have a little bit of hoestsiroop? I'm sure I'll feel better tomorrow!" I can hear her chuckle before she comes upstairs with the bottle of cough syrup. She obviously doesn't believe me, and she knows that I know. That's alright though, because I am about to get my prize: a spoonful of thyme cough syrup!

Tijmsiroop, or thyme syrup, is a cough medicine that is safe for kids to take and it's the flavor of many Dutch adults' childhood, much like cherry-flavored cough syrup is here in the United States. Thyme syrup is available over the counter at the local pharmacy, apotheek, and it tastes great! It is sweet, sticky and has that typical herbal thyme flavor to it - not too much, but just enough. It used to be sold in small brown bottles and make us feel oh-so grown up when we were sick enough to get a spoonful!!! Of course, you would never get more than the recommended dosage, because even though it was safe for kids, it was still supposed to be medicine and make you feel better. Especially if it was obvious that you just coughed and sputtered so that you could have a taste! Ahem....

And it's been around for a long while - an advertisement from the Graafschap Bode, from March 2nd 1932, shows that J.W. Kroon recommends tijmsiroop, among other interesting sounding concoctions, against "hoest en verkoudheid", coughs and colds.

Best of all, it's easy to make. If you've never had it before, it may become a safe addition to your natural medicine cabinet - if you have, it will be a pleasant memory from days past. You can take a spoonful directly from the bottle, or stir it into a glass of hot tea, or milk - it's sure to soothe any sore throat, upcoming cold or nasty cough (even fake ones!). Beterschap!

1.5 oz of fresh thyme, rinsed (preferably organic)
3 cups water
2 cups sugar

Bring the water to a simmer and add the sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Lower the heat on the stove, and add the thyme (stems and all) to the pot. Cover and simmer on low for twenty minutes: don't boil, but just barely simmer.

Remove the thyme from the liquid. Test the remaining liquid to see how syrupy it is. If it's too watery, just let the liquid simmer uncovered and reduce it to about 2 cups. Cool and store in a jar, in the fridge. Don't hold it for longer than a month or two.

If you wish, you can use honey instead of sugar, or add fresh ginger, a pinch of cinnamon, or a splash of lemon or lime juice to make this thyme syrup your own. 


  1. Wow I do remember this from when I was little. My mom used to sometimes also make laurierdrop siroop for coughs. Have you ever heard of this and would you have a recipe? Sylvia van der klugt on facebook.

  2. Also I can't seem to be able to find your facebook page. I love all these recipes, so happy I found your site. Maybe you can find me on Facebook. Sylvia van der klugt. BC Canada.

  3. Happy to find this, my wife's grandfather mentioned something like this once and I've finally found it!


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