This year the International Herb Association had designated savory as the Herb of the Year. There are actually two herbs that bear this name. The first is winter savory (Satureja montana), a low-growing perennial herb hardy to Zone 6. Its inch long green leaves grow on woody branches that spread about two feet. It grows best with regular watering but can withstand an occasional drought. Small white to pink flowers appear in June and are much enjoyed by passing bees. The second herb is summer savory (Satureja hortensis), a tender annual that grows about twice as tall and half as dense as winter savory but with a similar –some say superior– flavor. It grows best in cooler climates and is likely to die out during hot summers in Texas.
Both winter and summer savory can happily grow with your flowering plants. Plant them where they can receive at least half a day of full sun in well-drained or rocky soil. Winter savory is evergreen year round and can be clipped for use in the kitchen anytime. Summer savory will set seed and die once temperatures move near 100 degrees so it is best planted once in February and again after Labor Day to take advantage of the cooler temperatures of spring and fall.
In the kitchen, savory has a somewhat peppery flavor so go easy when you first use it. Try adding finely chopped savory leaves to bread crumbs when coating meats. Add a sprig or two to the body cavity of trout before cooking. Use it as an alternative to oregano or thyme when these herbs are called for in a recipe. Savory is also excellent when added to bean dishes. In fact, some people call savory “the bean herb” not only for its pungent flavor but its reputed ability to curb flatulence associated with beans.
With most of us tightening our belts financially, herbs are rising in popularity in the kitchen garden. The fresh herbs grown there make home cooked meals even better. Be sure to include winter savory in your garden.