Savory (Satureja species)
Savory is an aromatic annual which is related to rosemary and thyme. Savory comes in two main varieties: summer savory and winter savory however there are also other varieties including prostrate savory, lemon savory and thryba.
Savory is one of the most pungent herbs, with a hot, peppery flavour similar to thyme or marjoram. Savory is best used sparingly or in slow-cooked dishes with meat and vegetables.
Summer savory has a spicy aroma with notes of thyme, mint and marjoram while winter savory’s aroma is more assertive and penetrating with hints of sage and pine.
In addition to slow cooked meats and vegetables, savory leaves are used to flavour stuffing, bean dishes, soups, stews and pizzas and pairs particularly well with beans, beetroot, game meat, cabbage, cheese, mackerel, eel, eggs, potatoes and tomatoes. The herb is an important part of Bulgarian, Italian, German and Romanian cuisines and it part of the spice mixture Herbes de Provence. Savory combines well with basil, bay, cumin, garlic, lavender, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme.
Although the leaves, both dried and fresh, are the main part of the plant used in cooking the flowers can also be used for garnishes and in salads.
Summer savory is a slender annual plant which grows soft, greyish leaves and forms pink and white flowers. Winter savory is an evergreen perennial with brown woody stems and glossy, dark green leaves with lavender and white flowers. Grow savory plants in loose well-drained soil and in a sunny position. Harvest leaves regularly to encourage new growth.
Summer savory is native to eastern Mediterranean and the Caucasus while winter savory is native to southern Europe, Turkey and North Africa. Its use dates back to when the Romans used it as a replacement for salt and introduced it into northern Europe.
Summer savory was sometimes referred to as the ‘herb of love’ and was used as a tonic for reinvigorating passion.
Savory has been used throughout history to assist with respiratory tract infections, indigestion, lack of appetite, giddiness and to sooth bites, stings and toothache.
Facts about Savory
Spreading flowering savory shoots between clothing is said to repel moths.
Commonly Asked Questions
Where can I buy savory?
In Australia, it is uncommon to buy bunches of fresh savory in supermarkets however plants can be brought from most nurseries.