Savory has been chosen “Herb of the Year” for 2015 by the International Herb Association. The IHA is a professional trade association providing educational, service and development opportunities for those involved in herbal endeavors. The Herb of the Year is chosen based on being outstanding in at least two of the three major categories: medicinal, culinary, or decorative.
Savory, known as the bean herb or the pepper herb, has been used to flavor cooking for over 2,000 years and was one of the strongest culinary herbs before the introduction of stronger species such as black pepper. Indigenous to southern Europe and the Mediterranean, the Romans used it as medicine, a bee sting treatment and an aphrodisiac in addition to a seasoning. The Egyptians and the French used it in a popular love potion. The Germans used it in cooking beans and as a substitute for pepper. The English considered it an essential ingredient in stuffing and savory was even mentioned in the writings of Shakespeare.
There are two types of savory, summer (Satureja hortensis) and winter (Satureja montana), and both were enjoyed for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Closely related to the mint family, the savories have a somewhat peppery flavor with a minty thyme background. The winter version is stronger and is a semi-woody, herbaceous perennial forming a 12” mat of dark green leaves and white flowers, while summer savory is a milder small, bushy annual easily grown from seed. Both are loved by bees and savory honey is delicious on hot biscuits or muffins. Plus, if stung by a bee, crushing and rubbing a sprig of savory on the site will provide instant relief.
Summer savory is the most well-known of the savories and can be used fresh or dried for adding a pleasant sweet, spicy flavor to vegetables, meats, pastas and rice. It is also a favorite for tossing with fresh beans and adding to salads. The leaves are also commonly used in dried herb mixtures for use in stuffing, pates and meat dishes as savory combines well with other herbs, bringing out each flavor without overwhelming. You can also use the leaves in tea.
Winter savory is useful for those on a salt-restricted diet because the leaves have a robust flavor that is a salt and pepper alternative. Famous for making its mark on dried beans, it also blends well with different culinary herbs and can be added to soups or stews which have a long cooking time. In addition it perfectly complements herb cheeses, fish, chicken and egg dishes and is a great last minute addition to sautés.
USES FOR SAVORY
· general tonic to the digestive tract
· powerful antiseptic
· aromatic disinfectant tossed on a fire
· pungent oil commonly used in toothpaste and soaps
· reputation as an aphrodisiac
· herbal vinegar
· a massage lotion mixed with beeswax
· ointment for minor rashes and skin irritations
· companion plant with beans and onions
to improve growth and flavor
BUTTERED CORN WITH SUMMER SAVORY
1 package of frozen sweet corn
or cooked fresh corn removed from the cob
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 teaspoon fresh summer savory leaves
Cook fresh or frozen corn, place hot in a serving bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.
SAVORY WHITE BEAN PUREE
1Tbs olive oil, divided
1/2 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1Tbs fresh parsley
1 tsp dried winter savory
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1 can (15.5 ounces) white beans, rinsed and drained
1/4 cup beef stock (or use chicken or vegetable stock)
Heat olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring often, for 3 minutes. Add parsley with the dried savory and thyme. Cook and stir a few more minutes until the onion begins to brown. Add the beans and stock; cook and stir to heat through. Puree the bean mixture, adding more stock if needed, to make a smooth paste. Taste for seasonings. Stir in the 2 teaspoons of extra-virgin olive oil and transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with diced tomato. Serve warm or at room temperature with pita chips.