Savory has been named Herb of the Year, and it will be part of the celebration when the Herb Market returns to the Historic Pearl Brewery on Oct. 17. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., with free admission, free seminars and free parking.
Not familiar with savory? Here are some facts and a recipe to help you get to know this pungent herb a little better.
Origin and Cultivation
Originating in southern Europe, Savory, a genus of about 30 species of annuals, semi-evergreen perennials and subshrubs, occur widely in the northern hemisphere thriving in dry, sunny spaces. They are unassuming plants but deserve a place in our herb gardens and can be grown as ground covers and even trailing plants for the front of window boxes or hanging baskets in semi-shade here in our south central Texas summers.
Although there are many varieties, the cultivation of all savories is the same. They enjoy well-drained to dry, neutral to alkaline soil in full sun. Pinch out new shoots in spring to encourage bushiness. Cut back winter savory in early spring. Winter savory can be grown in pots or from seed in early autumn and transplanted to garden pots or your herb garden in early spring when all threat of frost is gone.
Savory, also known as the bean herb, may deter Mexican bean beetles if planted in between rows of beans in the vegetable garden.
Uses for Savory in Cooking
–Summer Savory (satureja hortensis) is a small, bushy annual. The plant is quite woody with branching stems and small leathery leaves. The leaves have a mildly spicy flavor similar to marjoram. Use with meats, especially sausages, fish or with beans. The leaves are commonly used in dried-herb mixtures for use in stuffing, pates and other meat dishes.
Most commonly used as a seasoning for green vegetables, savory’s special affinity is for beans. Use summer savory, with its more delicate flavor, for tender baby green beans, and winter savory to enhance a whole medley of dried beans and lentils. It is no coincidence that the German word for the herb is Bohenkraut, meaning bean herb, as one of the components of the herb naturally aids the digestion of these sometimes problematic legumes.
–Winter Savory (satureja montana) has a stronger, less refined flavor than the summer variety. Use savory to enhance the flavor of fish, vegetables, eggs, soups and stews, and many other dishes. Fresh savory leaves are often used as a garnish. Also, vinegars flavored with savory can be used in making salad dressings and add a fresh green flavor.
Savories – A History
The savories have been used to enhance the flavor of food for over 2,000 years. Savory is an herb so bold and peppery in flavor that since the time of the Saxons it has come to denote not only the herb itself, but it is synonymous with tasty and flavorful foods.
In California, most people have heard of Yerba Buena, the original name for the city of San Francisco. Few probably realize that the “good herb” (as the name translates to) is actually a variety of savory: Satureja douglasii. This low-growing, creeping perennial is native to the Pacific coast, thriving where it finds rich, moist soil. The early settlers learned to dry the herb and drank it as a tea to cure a variety of ailments, thus earning its name “good herb.”
Nicholas Culpeper an English botanist, herbalist, physician and astrologer published The English Physician (1652) and the Complete Herbal (1653) wherein he wrote that “savory should be kept dry all year. Make conserves and syrups for your use and withal, take notice that the summer kind is best.”
Medicinal Use: Savory essential oil is high in phenols comprised of carvacrol, thymol, cineol, cymene and pinene. This makes it great for a wide variety of uses including a strong antiseptic. It is most popularly known for its anti-fungal and astringent properties. It is used to prevent hair loss and is also used to treat insect bites and stings. The oil can be used as a tonic for seasonal illness, parasites and indigestion. It can be applied to wounds and ulcers as well as a tea used to aid digestive problems, most especially the flatulence that comes with the enjoyment of beans and chili.
Roasted Spicy Tilapia Filets
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon fresh summer or winter savory finely chopped
4 (6-ounce) tilapia or red snapper fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a small bowl, combine the seasonings; sprinkle over fish and press into both sides. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Using long-handled tongs, moisten a paper towel with cooking oil and lightly coat the grill rack. Grill fillets, covered, over medium heat or broil 4 inches from the heat.
Makes 4 servings.
From San Antonio Herb market Association