Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis)- Winter Savory (Satureja montana)
Savory has been a valuable medicinal and culinary herb for at least 2,000 years. Savory originated near the Black Sea during the Middle Ages when Benedictine monks brought the herb cross the Alps into Europe. Following the introduction of the Savory Herb, it was banned from monastery gardens to protect the monks from the herb's supposed aphrodisiac effects of Essential Oils of Savory. Considering this, it may be wise for some of the clergy within certain religious circles of today consider the use of Savory to help curb their problem appetites.
Savory is a member of the mint (Lamiaceae) family and is related to the herbs Rosemary and Thyme. The 30 species of Satureja are native to warm, temperate regions and can be annual or perennial, lower growing herbs or small shrubs. The whole savory plant emits a spicy aroma with a distinct taste that is considered sharp and peppery. For the purpose of this article we are concerned only with information regarding the two popular genus which are often used when cooking with Savory. The two Savory Herbs are Summer Savory and Winter Savory.
In the United States both winter and summer savory are best known as culinary herbs.
Tradition has shown that, to to take advantage of the savory health benefits, all parts of the Savory Herb Plant can be used for a variety of medicinal purposes.
Summer savory shown in the picture of savory on the right, is a tender annual and is considered to be sweeter than Winter Savory.
Summer Savory grows up to 18 inches tall, has small bronze-green leaves and very small white or lavender flowers.
Summer Savory grows best in well-tilled loamy garden soil.
Summer Savory seed should be planted directly into the garden after the last spring frost.
Summer Savory use is very common as a popular condiment with meats and vegetables.
Cut leafy tops when the herb plants are producing buds. Harvest the Savory in the morning after the dew is dried.
Bundle the stems and hang to dry the savory in a well ventilated, dry location out of direct sunlight.
Or, place the stems in a food dehydrator with the temperature set at no higher than 95º F.
Or, if you are determined to use a conventional oven, use only a gas oven with the door slightly ajar and the pilot light lit as the primary source of heat.
The use of a microwave oven is not recommended for drying savory, or any other herb.
As a perennial herb, Winter Savory is very hardy and its taste is not as sweet as summer savory.
Winter savory has dark green, shiny, pointed leaves much stiffer in texture than summer savory. It is a woody perennial herb plant growing to 2 feet in height with small white or lavender flowers.
Winter savory grows best in a light, sandy soil. Keep dead wood trimmed out of the herb.
Propagate Winter Savory from stem cuttings or plant Savory Seed directly into your herb garden in the spring.
Harvest Winter Savory by picking young shoots and leaves at any time during the growing season. The Winter Savory leaves are evergreen but lose some of their pungent flavor during the winter.
For winter use, it is recommended that your Winter Savory be dried. Use the same drying procedure as the example above when you Dry Winter Savory.
Winter Savory is a condiment often used as a flavoring in liqueurs. The taste of Winter Savory is considered to be not as sweet as summer savory.
As a culinary herb Savory was once described as "poor man's sauce." Savory began the migration from a medicinal herb to a culinary herb during the Roman conquest of England when savory arrived in the medicinal packs of the Romans. The English began cooking with Savory by using it in stuffing recipes.
When cooking with Savory, the leaves are usually chopped after the stems have been discarded, then savory is often paired with other dried herbs.
Today Savory is dried and crushed, and is most popular when used in marinades for grilled meats or in roasted pork or poultry herbal rubs.
As a substitution for savory, cooks will sometimes use sage, thyme or Rosemary, or a combination of the three.