Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Summer Savory - Herb of the Week

I did a post on savory back in 2010, but since it is the herb of the year for 2015 I thought I would revisit it.  There are actually 30 types of savory, Summer savory and Winter Savory, are two of the most common one is an annual the latter a perennial.

For this week I will focus on Summer Savory, to see the details of Winter Savory see my previous herb of the week post. Later this year I will do some follow up on a few of the other species.

Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis) the Herb of the Week and Herb of the Year.

According to some books summer and winter savory are identical in all applications except gardening. They have a long history of being used in cooking that stretches back in Europe at least 2000 years. Ancient Egyptians used savory in love potions.
summer savory going to flower
The Roman writer Pliny created the Latin name Satureja, which is based on satyr, the half-man / half-goat creature of ancient mythology.  Romans used it extensively in cooking and are attribute with introducing it to England.  The Poet Virgil suggested planting it near beehives because of the pleasant tasting honey it produced.

Summer Savory was considered valuable for heating, drying, and carmative action according to Nicolas Culpepper.  It was even recommended as a cure for deafness.

To Grow

Summer Savory is an annual that can grow in all zones.  It has a branching root system and bushy finely hair stems.  It grows to about 12 to 18 inches and will bloom from midsummer through frost with white to pale pink two-lipped flowers.  The leaves are soft, hairless, linear and about 1 inch long attached directly to the stem in pairs.  The leaves are grayish, turning purplish in late summer or early autumn. The entire plant is highly aromatic.

Both types of savory grow from seed or cuttings.  Always use fresh seed as the viability is reduced after a year.  Summer Savory germinates quickly.  Sow seeds not more than ¼ inch deep in flats and transplant later, or plant directly into the garden.  Space plants about 10 inches apart and keep them well weeded.  Pinch them regularly to encourage bushiness and if the plants begin to flop, mound soil slightly around the base.  Keep them well watered for best growth.  You can also grow Summer Savory indoors in containers.

To Use

You can begin harvesting summer savory as soon as the plants get about 6 inches tall.  If you keep snipping the tops of the branches, you’ll be able to extend the harvest.  When the plant insists on flowering, cut the whole plant and lay them on screening or paper towel in a warn shady place.  When dry (about 48 hours) strip the leaves from the stems and store in an airtight jar.  Collect the seeds as soon as they start to brown, place in airtight jar with a bit of desiccant and store for next seasons planting.

The slender stems and small leaves of Summer Savory are pretty enough to tuck into flower arrangements for the table so one can enjoy the wonderful fragrance.  Savory is used in cooking and is its most popular way to be used.  Not gown nearly enough by home gardeners, it is a common ingredient in meat and vegetable dishes, and especially popular in highend restaurants. 

Summer Savory tastes like peppery thyme and blends well with most flavors, helping to bring them together.  Use fresh or dried Summer savory leaves to season beans of all kinds. It is popular in herb butters, soups, beef soup, eggs, snap beans, peas, rutabagas, eggplant, asparagus, parsnips, cabbage, brussel sprouts, squash, garlic, liver, fish and quince.  German cooking is famous for savory and beans, and there are many claims that savory should always be served with beans as it is an antiflatulent.

savory bread
Summer savory is the most well known for its healing properties.  It is fairly effective in treating a number of issues.  The active constituents are caracrol (carracol), p-cymene, and tannin, which is a mild antiseptic with astringent properties.

A tea made with summer savory can be used for occasional diarrhea, minor stomach upsets and mild sore throats.  In Europe it is taken by those with diabetes to alleviate excessive thirst.  It is a pleasant-tasting, harmless tea taken in moderate amounts.  Steep 2 to 4 Tablespoons of dried herbs in 1 cup of hot water to make a medicinal infusion.  Limit yourself to 1 cup per day.  This tea is also good for sore throats.

Apply fresh sprigs to bee or wasp stings. Both Summer and Winter Savory are considered to have a reputation as aphrodisiacs.  The flowering tops can be used to make a cleansing facial steam. Dried leaves can be added to potpourri.  It make an herbal vinegar that has a light delicious flavor.


Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage 
This hearty soup, with its lentils and sausage, seems made for savory. A firm whole-grain bread would be ideal alongside. This recipes serves 4.

2 tablespoons cooking oil
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 pound lentils (about 2 1/3 cups)
1 1/2 cups drained canned diced tomatoes (one 15-ounce can)
2 1/2 quarts water, more if needed
4 teaspoons dried summer savory, or 1/4 cup chopped fresh savory
1 bay leaf
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 pound kielbasa or other smoked sausage

In a large pot, heat the oil over moderate heat. Add the celery, onion, and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the lentils; tomatoes; water; dried savory, if using; bay leaf; salt; and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat and cook, partially covered, until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. Meanwhile, heat a large nonstick frying pan over moderately high heat. Add the sausage and cook, turning, until browned, about 3 minutes in all. Remove. When the sausage is cool enough to handle, cut it crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Stir the sausage and fresh savory, if using, into the soup and simmer it for 5 minutes longer. Remove the bay leaf. If the soup is too thick for your taste, thin it with additional water.

Chicken and Orzo
A perfect summer recipe, this is a quick and easy recipe for a fast dinner and most items can be kept on hand to make a quick meal. Serves 4

2 Tbls. olive oil
1 small onion, chopped fine
2 small cloves garlic, peeled and chopped fine
3 sprigs fresh thyme, striped from stems and chopped (1/2 tsp. dried)
2 cans 14 ½ oz. each) chicken broth
2 cups orzo pasta
1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breast, diced
½ cup Romano or Parmesan cheese, grated
freshly ground pepper to taste
½ tsp. summer savory, dried

In skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic and cook 2 – 3 minutes.  Add thyme and broth bringing to a boil.  Add orzo and chicken and stir.  Reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Cook until liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes.  Stir in cheese and black pepper and savory.  Serve immediately.

Potato skin curls with herbs

3 cups canola oil
1-3/4 cups coarsely chopped mixed fresh herbs, 
           such as rosemary, parsley, cilantro, oregano, marjoram, and summer savory
5 lb. medium Yukon Gold potatoes, washed and dried well
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the oil and 3/4 cup of the herbs. Warm over low heat until the herbs begin to sizzle, 3 to 5 minutes. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes more, then remove the pan from the heat and let the oil cool completely.

Heat the oven to 200°F.

Using a paring knife, peel the potato skins about 1/4 inch thick and 3 inches long. (If working ahead, submerge the skins in water for up to 2 hours.)

Strain the herb oil through a fine sieve and discard the herbs. Return the oil to the pan, put a deep fat/candy thermometer in the oil, and set the pan over medium heat until it reaches 365°F. If the potato skins were soaked in water, drain and blot them dry. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding the pan, fry the peels until golden and puffed, 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the peels to a wire rack set on a large rimmed baking sheet; keep the curls warm in the oven. Repeat with the rest of the curls.

Carefully add the remaining 1 cup of herbs to the oil (the oil will splatter). Fry until crisp, 20 to 30 seconds. Drain the herbs, using either a wire mesh skimmer or a fine sieve set over a heatproof bowl and then transfer to the rack with the curls. (Discard the oil once cool.) Toss the herbs and potato curls and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.


  1. Been reading nonstop (until now about savory). Love your recipes as always, Marcy! Hope to get a post together soon! I'll link your post to mine once I get it finished! xo

  2. Thanks ever so much! Let me know and I will link them together!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...