Thursday, 3 July 2008
Summer savory is one of my favourite herbs, fresh or dried. It's impressively versatile, with a strong but never overwhelming sprightly flavour. Just be sure you have summer savory, and not the stronger, more bitter winter savory.
Winter savory is perennial, but summer savory is an annual, and thus must be sown every year. I bought a few fresh sprigs at a local Mennonite farm, however I usually use it dried. The easiest good-quality dried savory to be found around here is Mt. Scio Farms savory, grown in Newfoundland. It's said that the very mineral soil of Newfoundland makes for excellent savory, and I can't argue; it's head and shoulders above any other I've had. I bet it would do well in northern Ontario for the same reasons.
Savory, like parsley, is not the easiest of herbs to grow. Like parsley, it will eventually germinate, so be patient. Once it is going it is fine, but it is a slow starter, that should be seeded indoors in the late winter or early spring, and potted up before finally moving it outdoors. Because it is slow growing, it will require assiduous weeding. Once it is fully grown, it should be a spreading plant over a foot in height, with small purple flowers in July.
I was amused to see that in Bulgaria it is often used in conjunction with paprika, which is a combination I really, really like. I'm a Bulgarian cook and didn't even know it? In reality, though, I think my fondness for summer savory springs from my maritime province roots, where it is probably the most popular herb in use.
In Germany, savory is known as "the bean herb" and used to season beans both freshly green and dried. Vesey's says to use it in "teas, herb butter, flavoured vinegars, soups, and, of course, poultry stuffings." I would add casseroles, stews, to season baked poultry or fish, salad dressings, and vegetables to that list. Sounds like savory is good with just about anything... savoury.