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Savory, Summer

(Satureja hortensis)


This is a compact, bushy annual growing to 18" tall. The 1" long leaves are aromatic and become tinged reddish purple in late summer. White to pink flowers are borne in whorls in leaf axils from midsummer to frost. This herb self sows easily.


Summer savory prefers a rich, well-drained soil in full sun. It is easily grown from seed, but plants can also be purchased. Space the plants 8" — 10" apart. They tend to become top-heavy; therefore, stake or brace them. Harvest the tops at any time and dry them in a warm place.


This herb is usually preferred over winter savory for cooking because of its milder flavor. It tastes like mild peppery thyme and blends well with most flavors. It is used to flavor beans, meats, fish, poultry, soups, stews, stuffing's, beans, potatoes, eggs, and sausage.

Savory, Winter

(Satureja montana)


A perennial that grows 8" — 12" tall. The leaves are narrow and stiffer than those of summer savory, and they have a spicy but pine-like scent. Small, purplish-pink flowers are borne along the stems from midsummer to fall.


Winter savory can be grown from seed sown directly into a moist, sunny location. Because germination is slow, it is best to start with stem cuttings or established plants from a garden center. Space the plants 10" apart. The soil must be well-drained because the plants are susceptible to rot. Harvest the leaves anytime during the growing season. Extend the harvest by regularly cutting back the plants.


This type of savory is stronger than summer savory and is primarily used to flavor meats, though it can also be used in the same way as described for summer savory.


Savory, with its peppery flavor, was known to the Romans before the first lots of true pepper were imported from India. In the first century B.C., Virgil grew savory as ambrosia for his bees, believing that it made their honey taste better. In the Middle Ages, savory was used as a flavoring for cakes, pies, and puddings.