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What is savory?

What is savory?

Savory (not to be confused with the final course of a traditional British meal or foods with salty or spicy flavors) is an herb native to the Mediterranean and used popularly in cooking. 

Though confusing at first, given its peculiar name, savory isn’t just your regular herb. And when you finally get to the bottom of our discussion today, you’ll realize how fantastic it is.

Savory is an aromatic herb plant that features a bright green color and unique flavor. Scientifically, it’s called “Satureja.” The herb belongs to the mint family called “Lamiaceae” and is related to other popular herbs, such as rosemary and thyme.

Native to the sunny slopes of European and North African countries, the savory herb has many medicinal properties. It works as an antiseptic and is also used to treat bacterial infections and sore throats. It also provides relief from insect stings and bites.

Savory can also help provide relief from digestive issues, such as stomach gas, which is why it’s often consumed with gassy foods such as beans. It can treat ailments in the lungs, such as asthma and other respiratory tract conditions. 

Savory is known as “The Love Herb” because ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians considered it an aphrodisiac associated with supernatural beings. In many cultures, the savory herb was used to celebrate the fertility of the summer season. 

The Roman army can be accredited for familiarizing Europe and Britain with the flavorful savory herb. It was one of the few seasonings available till the spice route was inaugurated and transported items like black pepper to new areas of the world.

What does savory spice taste like?

Savory spice boasts a piney and peppery flavor with subtle hints of mint, thyme, and marjoram. It has an herbaceous aroma and a strong tang to it. The savory flavor is mostly considered sweet and spicy with an enjoyable touch of hotness. However, much of this strength gets lost during prolonged cooking.

Types of savory spice

There are two main kinds of savory spices:

1. Summer savory

Also known as “Satureja hortensis,” summer savory is a sweet-tasting and smelling peppery herb. It has a milder taste than winter savory. Summer savory is a delicate annual plant with small, bright green leaves that grows in June. It is used for holiday cooking along the Atlantic coast of Canada.

2. Winter Savory

Winter savory, also known as “Satureja montana,” is a perennial, semi-evergreen herb belonging to the warm temperate regions of southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa. It has pink, white, or lavender flowers and dark green leaves. It grows in rocky regions and has an earthy taste with notes of sage and pine.

Cooking with savory

There are many exciting ways of cooking with savory herbs. Fresh or dried savory leaves complement many dishes fairly well. Here are three ways in which you can use the savory spice in your meals:

1. Savory stuffing

To make the savory stuffing, add half a stick of butter in a pan. Add a generous amount of savory herb, rosemary, and thyme to the melting butter. Toss in onions, celery, fennel, and mushrooms and cook until tender. 

Next, stir in three cups of chicken broth and simmer. In a separate pan, combine two eggs and breadcrumbs. Toss the broth into this mixture and cook for one hour.

2. Savory lentils

You can use summer or winter savory to cook delicious savory lentils. Here what you need to do:

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onions and garlic. In another pot, boil chicken or vegetables for broth and add it to the butter-onion-garlic mixture. Pour in uncooked lentils, carrots, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and savory spice. Simmer for 45 minutes or until lentils are soft.

3. Savory green beans

To make green beans with savory, you’ll need butter, green beans, savory spice, and lemon juice. Trim green beans and boil them for five minutes. Melt butter in a saucepan. Let it melt. Add green beans, half a teaspoon of savory, and one teaspoon of lemon juice. Cook until beans are tender.

Savory spice substitutes

If you ever run out of savory spice, you can use the following substitutes in the same quantity:

  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Marjoram
  • Poultry seasoning
  • Rosemary
  • Herb mixture (two parts thyme and one part sage)

The bottom line

Put on your chef hat because now you know what savory is and are ready to use it in your meals! 

Add a delectable aroma to your dishes and become a better cook today using this wonderful, fragrant and peppery spice with a piquant flavor.