Satureja hortensis L.
Family : Labiatae
Other names : Bean herb
Summer savory (Satureja hortensis),
an annual plant belonging to the mint family, is native to Southern
Europe and the Mediterranean region. Savory was utilized by the
ancient Romans as a culinary spice and also as a medicinal herb.
Summer savory is a hairy, aromatic
annual with tough straggly or erect stems reaching a height of 45
cm. It grows well under a wide range of soil and climatic conditions.
The dark green leaves are long, narrow, elliptical, leathery and
about 0.5 - 1.0 cm long. The flowers are lilac-pink or white and
are produced in small spikes from the leaf axils in late summer.
It is grown easily from seeds sown
early in spring in rows 3 feet apart. Drill the seeds to a depth
of half an inch at the rate of 10 to 12 to the foot. The plants
will form a solid row if spaced 3 to 4 inches apart in the row.
In good soil plants grow 16 to 18 inches high and require little
cultivation. The tender leaves and stems may be used any time during
the season, but for drying 6 to 8 inches of the top growth should
be cut when blooming begins. Sometimes two or more crops can be
harvested in one season. The top growth as cut from the plants may
be tied in small bunches or spread on screens or paper to dry. When
thoroughly dry, the leaves should be stripped from the stems and
stored in closed containers. Care should be taken to remove all
small pieces of woody stems, as they interfere with the use of the
leaves in flavouring foods.
The volatile oil of savory is less
than 1% of the herb. The major component is carvacrol, at about
25 - 45%. Appreciable amounts of thymol (12-13%) and p-cymene (9-12%)
are also present.
Culinary, medicinal and other
Savory is seldom used in the processed
food industry. The leaves, fresh or dry, may be added to water for
cooking string beans or used in soups, stuffings, and sauces for
veal and poultry, and also in egg dishes and salads. This herb is
one of the most satisfactory mixers. Infusion of leaves is good
for treating gastric upsets, indigestion and loss of appetite. Spreading
flowering shoots between clothing repels moths.