© Denzil Green
Savoury is an herb.
It comes in two forms, winter and summer. Both have a similar flavour.
In the UK, you need to ask for Summer Savoury or Winter Savoury; if you ask just for Savoury, people will be thinking “savoury” as opposed to “sweet” and wait for you to complete the sentence.
If you are growing Savoury, don’t let it flower. Trim it before it does.
Summer Savoury is an annual plant grown from seeds.
It is a milder version of savoury, with a slight hint of mint to it. It is usually used dried, either in whole leaves, or rubbed to a rough powder.
Summer Savoury is very popular in Acadian cooking, and is a common herb in the herb mixture called “herbes de provence.”
It can be used in place of sage, in items such as poultry stuffing, or in combination with sage. It is particularly good with poultry and fowl dishes.
Winter Savoury is a perennial.
It has the stronger taste of the two savouries, with a hint of bitterness and is best suited to slowly cooked dishes like stews, as prolonged cooking makes the flavour milder.
Winter Savoury grows as a small, shrub-like plant up to 41 cm (16 inches) tall, with woody twigs. In moderate climates, it can stay green year round.
It was traditionally thought that growing Winter Savoury near bean plants helped to keep pests such as weevils away from the beans.
In Mediterranean cooking, Savoury is used a lot with beans and other pulses because of the old belief that it has anti-flatulence properties. Whether it does or not, it does go wonderfully with them.
2 tablespoons dried, rubbed savory = 1 tablespoon finely ground dried savoury
The Roman writer Virgil thought Summer and Winter Savoury were among the most fragrant herbs, and recommended planting them near bee hives. The Romans used a vinegar flavoured with Savoury in the same manner as we use mint sauce these days.
Literature & Lore
“Here’s flowers for you; Hot lavender, mints, savoury, marjoram; The marigold, that goes to bed wi’ the sun And with him rises weeping: these are flowers of middle summer, and I think they are given to men of middle age.” — Perdita. The Winter’s Tale, IV, 4, Shakespeare.
It is generally best in institutional cafeterias and canteens to avoid any dish described as “Savoury… “, as it always seems to involve any leavings from the week before.
Summer Savoury is “Satereja hortensis”; Winter Savoury is “Satereja montana”. Winter Savoury is also called “Spanish Savoury”.