Winter Savory, a Delicious and Forgotten Herb
Winter savory (Satureja montana) is a perennial herb, evergreen in many climates, and very easy to grow. With its strong, spicy flavour, this delicious herb adds zest to salads or added raw to vegetables. The flavour of this herb becomes much milder when cooked, and it then goes extremely well with all kinds of beans or meats. It is frequently used in stuffing.
Although winter savory is not grown much today, this plant has been known and used for thousands of years to add flavour to all kinds of entrees and side dishes. Grown in places that receive at least six hours of sun per day, this is an attractive, low-growing herb with tiny white flowers that needs minimal care once established. In its second year winter savory can be divided and replanted easily. Bees love winter savory, so if you are hoping to attract bees to your yard, planting some of the herb can give the bees some variety in their diets.
Although it should be avoided during pregnancy, otherwise it is safe in any reasonable quantity, and is often cooked with beans to reduce gas. Winter savory has a beneficial effect upon the entire digestive system.
Amazingly, if you take a little of the crushed leaves of the plant and place them on an insect bite or bee or wasp sting, the pain will vanish immediately!
From Prehistory to Today
Originally from the Appenine mountains in Italy, winter savory made its appearance in Great Britain in the middle of the sixteenth century. A member of the mint family, this herb blends well with other members of the mint family, and can be used in numerous ways, from flavouring liqueurs to sauces.
An easy way to try this little-known herb is to beat fresh leaves into a mayonnaise or white sauce, or to sprinkle the fresh leaves over the top of a mild casserole, a salad, or over an omelet. You can even use it to make herbal iced tea (or drink it in hot tea). Once you become accustomed to the flavour of winter savory, you'll be glad you tried it.
If you decide to grow it yourself, and want to harvest quantities to dry, the best time is to cut it in the morning right as it begins to flower. Hang the branches upside down and let dry. Keep dried winter savory away from light and air to retain its flavour. You can also freeze winter savory in ice cubes to keep it fresh.
A pound of leaves should last you a good, long time . . . but maybe not.
A great primer on using herbs in the kitchen!