By James Henry Frazar
Savory is known as a herb in cooking, but it also makes an aromatic plant to grow. There is winter and summer savory.
Grace Emery of the San Antonio Herb Society spoke to the Forest Oaks Garden Club in Leon Valley about savory in the fall.
The winter version is a perennial and it grows like a shrub. It is a semi-evergreen and can grow to 16 inches tall. When growing, it won’t take over your garden. You could use it to border your garden. It can come back each year.
Summer savory is an annul and must be replanted.
Winter savory has white and violent flowers.
It’s a good companion plant in the garden, especially for beans and roses. It keeps bean weevils away and reduces mildew and aphids on roses.
Savory grows well in poor soil – such as sandy or even limestone soils common to the Hill Country.
Sow savory seeds one-quarter of an inch deep and lightly cover. It will germinate with little or no ground cover. About four to six weeks after the seedlings germinate, thin to about 12 to 18 inches apart. It will grow in bright sun and needs six hours a day.
Once established, it really doesn’t need watering.
Savory will survive an easy winter. It can take temperatures down to 10C (-10F).
After harvesting, store savory in a plastic bag in a refrigerator or you can dry it and keep it in an air tight container. They will retain their flavor for 4-6 months. You can crush the leaves, such as with a mortar and pestle to bring the flavor back.
Normally, when seasoning with savory, don’t use too much. It is more spicy than you think. Usually a pinch is enough. You can use savory instead of salt and pepper.
It’s a good spice for mushrooms and potato salad.
Savory will lose its flavor in prolonged cooking. So if you cook your dish for a long time, wait to put it in until the near the end of the cooking process.
You can cut back on the amount of salt and pepper you use by substituting savory.
The dried leaves of savory can be put in potpourri and tea.
Winter savory can also be used to season sausage, lamb, pork, and long-cooking meat dishes and used for oil-rich foods such as eel and mackerel. Savory is good with cabbage and root vegetables such as onion because it reduces their strong cooking smells.