The flavor of savory is best described as peppery with a hint of oregano. This herb packs a delightful flavor punch and is easy-to-grow. Summer savory has a fine, feathery texture. An annual, summer savory (Satureja hortensis) foliage turns a striking shade of bronze-purple in late summer. Use it as an ornamental and culinary plant in the landscape. It’s a delightful addition to cottage gardens and flower beds. Winter savory (Satureja montana) is a perennial plant with stiff foliage and a stronger flavor than summer savory.
Gather leaves as needed throughout the growing season to sprinkle on salads or garnish dishes. Just before plants bloom, cut entire stems (with flower buds). Air dry stems by spreading on screens or by bundling a few stems and hanging them upside down in a dark place with good air circulation. When leaves dry completely, strip them from stems and store in airtight containers. Chop dried leaves before using.
Another option to preserve summer savory's fresh flavor is to stuff the leaves into a jar with vinegar. Use this seasoned vinegar as a marinade base for meats, such as ribs, chicken, and fish. Chopped fresh savory perks up steamed or roasted vegetables, and it also blends nicely with sour cream to create a fresh dip.
Start From Seed
Summer savory is easy to grow from seed planted directly in the garden or started indoors about 6 weeks before the last anticipated frost. Choose a planting location that receives full sun and has moist, well-drained soil. Savory grows well in containers and raised beds. Light helps seed germinate, so sow seeds shallowly—1/8 inch deep. To ensure a continuous supply of fresh foliage, sow a new crop of savory every 3 to 4 weeks.
Summer savory requires regular moisture in summer. If plants are drought-stressed they will quickly bolt and send up seedheads. As soon as plants bolt, they are not well-suited for culinary use. Water the plant deeply each week.
Semi-evergreen in some areas, winter savory is closely related to summer savory. Winter savory has a pronounced stiff, upright growing habit and shiny, dark green foliage. Its flavor is much more pungent than summer savory.
It grows best in full sun and well-drained soil. It doesn't tolerate poorly drained soil and will quickly rot in wet soil in winter. As winter savory gets older, it develops woody growth that often produces foliage with poor flavor. Prune away the woody stems to encourage young, vigorous stems to develop. Winter savory is hardy in Zones 5 to 11.
More Varieties of Savory
Satureja hortensis is an annual that has narrow green leaves and spikes of white or pink flowers in summer. It grows 10 inches tall and 12 inches wide.
Satureja montana is a perennial that provides a strong, spicy flavor to meats. It bears pinkish flowers in summer and grows 16 inches tall and 8 inches wide. Zones 5-8