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Botanical name: Satureja hortensis (summer savory), Satureja montana (winter savory)



Summer savory is native to the eastern Mediterranean region and the Caucasus, i.e. all around the Black Sea. Winter savory stems from Southern Europe and North Africa. Today it is also indigenous to Central Europe and western Asia to as far as India.


The chief area for cultivated savory is south-eastern Europe, especially Hungary and Romania, but this culinary herb is also grown in South Africa and North America.


It is very easy to grow savory for one's own use in an herb garden.



The leaves and young twigs of summer savory are harvested in July, at the beginning of inflorescence. The harvest of the winter variety can begin in spring and continues into late autumn.

Savory is frequently sold together with fresh French beans at the market. It is also sold fresh in many supermarkets in small pots. Most savory is dried, however, and is available all year round.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

Savory belongs to the family Lamiaceae. The summer variety is an annual; the winter variety is a perennial and evergreen.


The many-branched plants grow to a height of 30-60 cm and have narrow, lanceolate leaves. The leaves of summer savory are tender and soft, while those of the hardy winter savory are coarser, firmer and shiny. Savory blooms from July to October with lilac or white blossoms.


Savory has an intensive pepper-like odour and taste, is pleasantly spicy and slightly resinous, and is reminiscent of thyme or mint, but stronger.



Savory contains 0.3-1.5% essential oil. This is responsible for the herb's aroma and consists of carvacrol and terpenes, among other substances. In addition, savory contains flavonoids and tannins, in particular rosmarinic acid.


Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Savory should be harvested directly prior to blossoming, when the aroma in the leaves is strongest. If fresh savory is wrapped in foil it can be kept in the refrigerator for 5-6 days. It can also be deep-frozen.


Savory is hung to dry in a dark, airy place. It retains its seasoning strength when dried. The dried leaves are stripped from the stems and should be kept in the dark and dry in closed containers, as for all dried herbs.


As with most herbs and spices, it is best to store savory whole and to chop it as needed, because when it is ground the aroma disappears quickly.


Presumed effect on health

Savory is considered to be an appetizing and stomach-soothing home remedy. It is supposed to regulate bowel function, relieve cramps and help to better digest heavy meals.


A tea made of savory is said to have a healing effect on colds, and treatment with fresh ground savory is even thought to relieve the pain and swelling of wasp stings.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Savory is sold fresh, dried and usually crushed, ground or coarsely chopped. The ground herb has lost some of its aroma, however. As it does not lose its flavour through cooking or drying, it can always be cooked with foods.


This herb is used particularly to season bean dishes. It is added not only to fresh beans but also to lima beans, white kidney beans, pea and lentil dishes and other legumes.


Vegetable dishes such as cabbage, onions, tomatoes and paprika can also be rounded off with savory. It tastes good finely chopped in soups and salads, especially potato, tomato, lentil and bean salad.


Savory is excellent with various meat dishes and sauces. It is added to lamb, rabbit, poultry and game. It is a component of many mixed seasonings, in particular those used in making sausage. Savory is also good to season fatty fish such as mackerel and eel.


Pepper can be partially substituted with savory. This should be tried by people with a sensitive stomach, because it is more digestible.


Seasoning tip

Savory can be combined with fennel, rosemary, thyme, garlic and basil. It also goes well with bay leaf, marjoram, oregano, sage, parsley, lavender and mint.


It should always be used sparingly, because with its penetrating aroma it can easily over-season food. It is best to add the herb about 10 minutes prior to the end of the cooking time and to remove coarse pieces before serving. For this an egg-shaped herbal infuser is suitable.





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