Summer savory, or Satureja hortensis, is a popular herb used both medicinally and in culinary applications. This herb gained popularity in Rome, and was then spread across Europe where it gained popularity as an alternative to peppercorns.
Summer savory has an essential oil content of 0.1% to 0.25% which is yellow to dark brown and consists of mostly carvacrol.
Savory in Arabic is called "nadgh" or "zaatar," in Mandarin it is called "hsiang bao ho," in French it is "sariette," in German "bohnenkraut," in Hindi "greeshm jadee - bootee," in Japanese "sabori," in Portuguese "segurelha," in Russian "chabjor, and in Spanish "sbroso/tomillo salsero." It is also sometimes called "garden savory," and in some older recipes you may see it written as "savorie."
The Romans had quite the love affair with savory. Summer savory was used by the Romans to reduce pain from bee and wasp stings and to stimulate the appetite. It was also considered to be an aphrodisiac and was eaten at parties to encourage promiscuous behaviors. The name savory comes from the word "satureja" which is a derivative of the word satyr. Satyrs are mythical creatures in Roman mythology who look like men with goat legs, tails, and horns. The satyrs were sexually deviant, drunken woodland gods thought to have lived in fields of the herb aptly named after them.
Before spices reached a broad European audience at an affordable price, savory was one of the most sought-after flavorings available. It has a pepper like flavor, which made it popular during the times of high peppercorn prices in history and gave it the nickname "pepper herb." This herb was able to hover on the line between what were spices and what were herbs.
Savory was so popular that even Shakespeare wrote of it. Savory, alongside sage, was one of the most popular herbs included in all of Charlemagne's gardens. He took advantage of having much land under his rule and subjugated it almost entirely to the growth of herbs and other edible plants.
In Medieval times, this herb was thought to be a cure for deafness. Witches during this time period would use savory in spells to garner passion and to attract love and happiness. Throughout history, summer savory has come to be associated with love potions and has been used as a charm to attract romantic partners.
As we distance ourselves from the time of the Romans, savory gets less and less popular. This is partly due to the accessibility of other spices, and partly due to the evolving tastes and cuisines all over the world. Savory made its way to America with early colonists who used it as an aid for indigestion.
Summer savory is an annual plant, meaning it must be planted with seeds or cuttings every year. These plants enjoy having space and thrive when planted at least five inches apart. After the plants have reached six inches in height, their leaves are ready to be harvested for cooking. If they are cut back properly, they will continue to have new growth for their entire growing season. They tend to flower in July.
These plants prefer light, well drained soils with a lot of sunshine. Summer savory likes soils rich in organic material. It also attracts honeybees, which makes it an excellent addition to bee gardens.
Our Organic Savory comes from Albania or Turkey, depending on the time of the year.
A lovely, quick recipe that you can whip up using this herb is savory and garlic green beans. This is a perfect side dish for summer months when it's a little too hot to be cooking anything but fresh, delicious vegetables for a short period of time. No one likes sweating over the stovetop. Begin with your ingredients, which are simply a pound and a half of fresh green beans, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, 3 cloves of garlic, and one tablespoon of summer savory. Bring a pot of water to a boil and salt it generously. Cook the green beans for 3-4 minutes or until their color brightens a little in the boiling water and then drain them and allow them to cool. An ice bath might help with the cooling process, though it is not entirely necessary. Pat the beans dry. Over medium high heat, oil your skillet and add the beans, garlic, and summer savory. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until you begin to really smell the garlic. Salt to taste and serve!
Summer savory is a key ingredient in a spice mix called Sharena Sol that is popular in Macedonian cuisine. The name translates to mean colorful salt, and the ingredients include summer savory, paprika, and salt. Sometimes fenugreek leaves or thyme are added to the colorful salt, but not always.
Summer savory is preferred over winter savory in sausage seasoning because it has a sweeter flavor to it and leaves which are slightly larger, making them easier to work with.
Savory and beans go hand in hand. The German name for savory literally means "bean herb" because it is so frequently used in recipes with beans in German cuisine. It is also thought that savory can help the eater enjoy less gastrointestinal discomfort from eating beans.
It is good in teas, herbal butters, and in dishes with other herbs. If you want to tie all your herbal flavors together nicely, throw in some savory. The flavor of this herb compliments the others and will add a little something extra to the dish.
Savory is excellent with root vegetables, onions, beans, cheese, cabbage, potatoes, sweet peppers, and tomatoes.
It is best to add savory at the end of the cooking process, since savory loses flavor rather quickly.
As with many other herbs, dried savory has more flavor than fresh savory. This is because when it is dried, the plants cell walls break down and they release some of the oils within the plant.
Organic Savory tastes like thyme with some distinct hints of pepper.
Summer savory can be substituted with winter savory or thyme. Both are suitable, though not identical in flavor. If you are substituting thyme, it can be done in a 1 to 1 ratio. When replacing summer with winter savory, you will need to cut the amount of winter used in half since its flavor is much more intensely peppery.