SAVORY, Satureja, hortensis montan

There are two savories. One is called winter savory or Satureja Montana. It is a woody perennial and will last through a mild winter. It likes drier ground and is most hardy. If the ground around this plant gets wet and freezes, it will die.

The other is called summer savory or Satureja has a more fragrant aroma, but it can’t stand any frost.

Both savories look a lot alike only the winter savory is more woody with many more leathery leaves. Both plants have narrow leaves that have no stems and grow in opposite pairs around the stalk. Both savories grow a little over a foot high, but the summer savory is the taller of the two. They have a very small, white-to-lavender, and two-lipped flower that grows out of the axil or base of the leaf. Like most other mints, the bracts or smaller leaflets growing with the flower makes the opposite pairs of leaves look like they grow in whorls around the stalks or branches. The flowers bloom from June until September. For about the last seventy-five years, savory has been used primarily for cooking. However, it wasn’t always that way. For thousands of years, savory was mainly used as a healing herb. Even when it was used as a seasoning, it would help the body to digest food and get rid of gas on the stomach.

Culpepper, who was a seventeenth century herbalist, said savory was good for the respiratory system, asthma and other afflictions of the chest. He also said savory was good for ladies who had problems with their menstruation, because it was a tonic for the reproductive system. Culpepper added that savory was also good for deafness.

The early colonists brought savory with them when they came fro Europe. They said it was the best remedy for anyone who was taken with indigestion. They recommended it be mixed with bread crumbs to “breade the meate” that was eaten. They said it would give the meat, whether fish, fowl or flesh, a quicker relish, and make it taste better. This was especially true if the meat was a little tainted or had started to spoil.

Savory is somewhat astringent, so it is good for those with diarrhea. The tea is good for a gargle for loose gums and sore throat. If the juice of the leaf is squeezed on a mosquito bite or an ant bite, it will give quick relief to the itching.

Savory is said to be healing and somewhat antiseptic. It is used as a general tonic, an expectorant, a cough remedy and even as a vermifuge for those with parasites and worms. When the leaves are crushed and mixed with flour and applied as a poultice, they will relieve the pain of sciatica and palsy.

In almost everything I’ve read, it says wherever you cook beans, you should always use savory, which will cause them to taste like peppery thyme, so I tried it. The beans tasted great. They say you can use savory on almost anything, like snap beans, peas, rutabagas, eggplant, asparagus, parsnips, onions, cabbage, salsify, eggs, Brussels sprouts, squash, garlic, lentils and soups. It’s also good to season oils, vinegars and butters. I’d like to learn to season food. Looks like here’s my chance.

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