Friday, January 22, 2010

Fertilizer Friday Jan 22 2010 Savory

It's Friday, and that means a visit to Fertilizer Friday over at Tootsie Time . Check out her blog party and see what people have blooming in their gardens.

My Fertilizer Friday post this week is about Savory. It was originally published on my blog June 12, 2009.

Since that time the question has come up as to how one tells the difference between Summer Savory and Winter Savory.

My research when I wrote this article addressed this a little, but I m still somewhat confused.

We have two plants that are growing in our garden, that were both sold to us as "Winter Savory". They are two distinct separate plants. One is, tall twiggy and spindly, with long thin leaves, similar to the plant that my research described as Summer Savory. The other is a shorter, with a strong central stem and broader leaves like the plant described as Winter Savory.

But they are both perennials. We live in the southeast corner of Michigan, and our witers get very cold, yet our savory returns in the spring.

So, The question I have is this: Does anyone know if there are more than one variety of inter Savory? Or, Does anyone have an experience with Summer Savory coming back every year?

I have contacted a couple of different nurseries, and have not received any satisfactory answer. If I don't have an answer by the time the garden comes to life this spring, I will probably have to take a sprig of each to the county extension office and see if anyone there can help.

In the meantime, here is my article, as it appeared on my blog in June of 2009:

The herb of the week is Savory. There are two main varieties of Savory.

Summer Savory (satureja hortensis), is an annual, that must be replanted every year.

Winter Savory (satureja montana) is a perennial, that creates a ground cover and will return year after year.

We have been trying to build a solid base of perennials, so that we could just tuck a few annuals in around them, so we have Winter Savory in our garden. In this picture, Winter had just ended, and the spring growth was just starting.

For the rest of this article, I will just use the term Savory, when referring to the Winter Savory that we grow.

Whether used for its medicinal properties or to flavor food, Savory has been around since the days of the Romans, and before. The English word Savory means “Pleasing in taste or smell” and was derived from the Old French word savoure meaning to taste, which came from the Latin word satureia.
There is an argument made that this meant “herb of the satyrs“, as it was known to be an aphrodisiac, but I have been unable to positively confirm either this history of the word, or this particular property of the plant. Nevertheless, I like the story.

Easy to grow, Savory, a close relative of Thyme, and a distant relative to Mint, makes an attractive border plant for any culinary herb garden. According to plant experts, it requires around six hours of sun a day in soil that drains well. Savory does not grow in full shade.

Having said that, let me just say that ours has been growing in full shade for several years now, and is a thriving healthy happy and flavorful plant.

In spring, sow seeds 1/8" deep in dry, well-drained soil. Winter savory is slower to sprout than summer savory and requires less water. Too much moisture in the soil can cause winterkill. This savory should be replaced with new plants every 2-3 years. It can be pruned to form a loose, low aromatic hedge. Cut as needed prior to or immediately after flowering for culinary or medicinal use. Hang in bundles upside down in an airy place. Savory does not lend itself well to freezing in a paste form, as the leaves are very small, and dry, but they can be frozen individually on a cookie sheet and then transferred into ziplock bags, or other airtight containers, once they are frozen.

Medicinally, it is reported to be a stimulant, and an aphrodisiac. It is said to have many health benefits, particularly upon the whole digestive system. the whole herb, (and more specifically the flowering shoots), is mildly antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, digestive and mildly expectorant
It is said to be a remedy for colic and a cure for flatulence, it is also used to treat gastro-enteritis, cystitis, nausea, diarrhea, bronchial congestion, sore throat and menstrual disorders. It should, therefore not be prescribed for pregnant women. The essential oil forms an ingredient in lotions for the scalp in cases of incipient baldness. An ointment made from the plant is used externally to relieve arthritic joints.

A sprig of the plant, rubbed onto bee or wasp stings, brings instant relief. Being especially sensitive to mosquito bites, I tried this myself this week on a particularly irritating bite and was mildly surprised to find the swelling and itching disappear within minutes.

In cooking, winter savory goes very well with both beans and meats, very often lighter meats such as poultry or fish

Winter Savory is a great mixing herb. It blends well with different culinary oreganos, thymes and basils and can be added to meat, poultry or fish. Its small leaves are the perfect compliment to herb cheeses or as last-minute additions to saut├ęs. Even though it has a strong flavor when fresh, it does not hold up well to prolonged stewing. Famous for making its mark on beans, dried Savory also perks up stuffings and can be mixed with Sage, Thyme, and Bay. Add to ground Turkey or Pork with Fennel Seed, Cayenne Pepper, and Thyme. Or, add a pinch to Chicken, Seafood, or Tuna salad or to a hearty soup. There are very few dishes that a little Winter Savory won't make better.

Here is a "can't fail" recipe for a universal marinade, using fresh herbs from your garden.

Savory Herbal Marinade

For use on Red Meat:
2 1/2 Cups Red Wine
3/4 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 Small Onion or Several Shallots, chopped
2 Cloves Garlic, sliced
2 Fresh Greek Bay Leaves, broken into pieces
2 teaspoons each Fresh Thyme, Oregano and Winter Savory, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons Salt

Allow meat to marinate overnight or for at least 12 hours.

To use on Chicken, exchange the red wine for white wine and the red wine vinegar for white wine vinegar. The herbs may also include French Tarragon, Lemon Thyme or Rosemary or any combination of those listed.

For Pork, add fresh mint to the White Wine Marinade.
For Fish, use lemon juice in the place of the vinegar and the Winter Savory chopped fine and be conservative with any other herbs.

If you prefer to cook without alcohol, you may substitute as follows:
For 2 ½ C red wine, Use 2 C apple juice 1/3 c cranberry juice and 1T Lemon Juice
For 2 ½ C white wine, Use 2 C white grape juice & juice from 1 can of mushrooms

Or you can try this one, simple, but healthy.

Herbed Rice:

1 cup white rice
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 teaspoons each, Finely Chopped Savory, Thyme and Rosemary
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch pepper

Stir all ingredients together well, in a medium saucepan. Set over high heat, and bring to a simmer; cover, and cook 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and serve.

There's not much in mythology or modern magic about this herb that I can find, other than you can carry it, eat it, burn it, or wear it for intellect, creativity, and to maintain the good life.

Is it any wonder, then, that Savory has always been one of my favorite herbs in our garden? Subconsciously, I must have known that I was seriously in need of all of those things.

Let me know your favorite recipe using savory.

The following sources were very helpful in my research this week and may provide additional useful information:

Herbal Beauty
Mountain Valley Growers


  1. HELLOOOOOOO Troy!!!!
    I love it that you join my meme!!!
    Now...I don't know squat about savory...but when I do have questions about plants...I ask the folks at one of the seed places...
    I have asked the people at
    and the ones at
    they seem to know more than the nurseries do...heck I seem to know more than the nurseries do! lol
    thanks for joining in! and did you were first this week!

  2. I am going to try your rice recipe. It sounds delicious!

  3. Ooo Love a good marinade!! Savory is such a pretty unassuming little plant.
    Have a great weekend!

  4. What an interesting post. I've heard of Savory but have never tried growing it, I had no idea it had so many uses.

  5. Welcome to Fertilizer Friday. They do look different don't they. I'm not familiar with Savory so can't be of help but someone will.

  6. Troy, what a treasure you are. And by the sounds of it, you've realized your wife is also : ). Just went and saw the rolling can rack you made and I'm blown away! thanks for sharing your knowledge - it's wonderful!

  7. just stopping back to say hi and to let you know about a give away on my blog next week. I hope you have a wonderful weekend...oh...and don't forget to stop by this week...starting right now to enter and learn about the great give away that is being held on my blog this week! I know you will love the prize!

  8. Hi Troy,
    I left out the photo of my winter savory in the snow today, because I plan on doing a post about it at different times of the year, when I get a chance to do it. I have summer savory reseed, but it doesn't come up until the soil is good and warm. I don't know if there are different kinds of winter savory.

    Thanks for your nice comment on my last week's Camera Critters post. I was late getting today's CC post up, but posted some more squirrel photos for your granddaughter.