What is summer savory?

How does Summer Savory work?

The chemicals in summer savory are thought to decrease muscle spasms and kill bacteria and fungus.

Are there safety concerns?

Summer savory is LIKELY SAFE in food amounts. It’s POSSIBLY SAFE for most people when taken by mouth in usual medicinal amounts or when the oil is diluted before putting on the skin.

Summer savory can cause skin problems. The concentrated, undiluted oil is very irritating and should not be used.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking summer savory if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Bleeding disorders: Summer savory might slow blood clotting and increase the risk of bleeding. There is concern that summer savory might make bleeding disorders worse.

Surgery: Summer savory might slow blood clotting. There is concern that summer savory might increase the risk for bleeding during and after surgical procedures. Stop using summer savory at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.

Are there any interactions with medications?

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Summer savory might slow blood clotting. Taking summer savory along with medications that also slow blood clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Dosing considerations for Summer Savory.

The appropriate dose of summer savory depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for summer savory. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.



Botanical Name: Satureja hortensis.

Habitat: Summer savory is probably native to the eastern Mediterranean and countries around the Black Sea. It is widely cultivated as a spice and to some extent, its medicinal properties.

Today, it is cultivated in Spain, France, former Yugoslavia and North America.

The plant grows best in sandy, loamy and well-drained soil. It does not grow in shade and should be planted in full sun. It tolerates both dry or moist soil and can survive drought.

Description: Sommer savory is an annual plant that belongs to the mint or deadnettle family (Lamiaceae). It can grow 20-30 cm high with woody and richly branched stems. The leaves are narrow, lanceolate, green or almost black green with small scent glands.

The small white or violet flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by insects. The plant is usually in bloom from June to September and the seeds ripen from August to September. Summer savory is self-fertile.

Plant Parts Used: All of the above-ground parts of the plant are used in herbal medicines.

The herb can be used both fresh or dried for later use.

Summer savory can be harvested throughout the summer but the herb’s taste is considered best before the flowering begins. The leaves are often deep-frozen to ensure fresh supply all year around.

It is possible to extract an essential oil from summer savory.

Summer Savory – Spice and Medicinal Herb

Uses and Health Benefits of Summer Savory

Active Ingredients and Substances: The plant contains tannins, mucins, phenols, resins and essential oils.

The main constituents of the oil are carvacrol, beta-pinene, beta-phellandrene, limonene, and borneol.

Medicinal Properties

Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis) – Illustration ©The Herbal Resource

When using summer savory as a medicinal herb, the entire herb is used (especially the flowering tops). The herb is very aromatic and has appetizing-enhancing, expectorant, digestive-regulating and sudorific effect.

Taken internally, the herb is viewed as a good remedy for nausea, diarrhea, flatulence, bloating and other digestive disorders.

It is also used to treat a sore throat, colic, asthma and irregular menstruation. Herbal tea made from the herb can be used as an antiseptic gargle.

Because of its astringent and anti-inflammatory effect, a liniment of the herb can be used externally to ease the pains of inflamed joints.

In the same manner as parsley (Petroselinum crispum), summer savory is used as a treatment for insect stings and bites. The fresh plant material is pressed against the affected area and helps to ease the burning sensation and reduce the swelling.

An extract of summer savory is also regarded as an invigorating tonic and was presumably highly sought after by the ancient Egyptians as an aphrodisiac.

In the past, the herb was known as the “love herb” and it was often associated with supernatural beings who radiated a special erotic force. In many monasteries, during the Middle Ages, monks were forbidden to cultivate it so it would not compromise their chastity vows.

Essential oil

The essential oil present in summer savory is extracted by steam distillation. The oil is colorless or slightly yellow and has a fresh spicy scent.

The oil is regarded to have many of the same medicinal properties as the fresh or dried herb, and it is thought to have antispasmodic, anti-infectious, aphrodisiac, astringent, and expectorant properties.

In addition, it has both antibacterial and antifungal effect and can be used to expel parasitic worms (anthelmintic).

The oil is not used in aromatherapy but is occasionally used in perfumery because of its fresh, herbaceous odor.

Summer Savory Uses as a Spice

Despite its medicinal uses, summer savory is mostly used as a culinary herb and it has been used as a food additive for over 2000 years.

It is considered milder than its close relative winter savory (Satureja montana).

In cooking, the fresh or dried leaves are used. Properly dried summer savory should be dark green with a strong spicy odor with a mild peppery flavor. The flavor can also be reminiscent of sage (Salvia officinalis) and marjoram (Origanum majorana).

Taste wise in cooking, the herb can essentially replace both salt and pepper, which can be of great use to those who are on a salt-free diet. It is a relatively powerful herb and takes some time to get used to so it should be used with some caution.

As a spice, the herb is used especially for fatty meat, in bean or pea soup, with red and white cabbage (often with thyme), in different types of salads, in tomato sauce and tomato soup, as well many soup recipes.

The herb is often used as an addition in various spice mixtures intended for soups, meat and vegetable dishes. Furthermore, it is well known as an important spice in sausage making.

Dosage and Administration

As an herbal tea: Add 2 or 3 teaspoons of the dried herb in a cup of boiling water. Common therapeutic dosage is one cup daily.

Possible Side Effects and Interactions of Summer Savory

The summer savory’s essential oil should not be used during pregnancy. The oil can cause irritation to the skin and mucous membranes. The herb should not be used therapeutically as a long-term remedy.

Supporting References

Bown, Deni: The Royal Horticultural Society New Encyclopedia of Herbs & Their Uses. London, Dorling Kindersley 2002.
Lawless, Julia: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Shaftesbury, Element Books 1995.
Lee, William H. & Lynn Lee: Herbal Love Potions. New Canaan, Keats Publishing Inc. 1991.

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Thordur Sturluson

Thor Sturluson has a BS in Biology, majoring in Botany, from the University of Maine and a masters degree in Zoology from the Open University in London. He’s an experienced Biologist with a history of working in the environmental services industry. A trained scuba diver and researcher, Thor’s has a keen interest in nature conservation and animal/plant protection. His work and botany passion has made The Herbal Resource what it is.

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Everything You Wanted to Know About Summer Savory and Then Some©

by Arlene Wright-Correll
Home Farm Herbery

Summer Savory is better known than its cousin Winter Savory and it is an annual, but similar in use and flavor to the perennial winter savory. It is used more often than winter savory, as winter savory is thought to have a slightly bitterer flavor. Summer savory is preferred over winter savory for use in sausages because of the sweeter, more delicate aroma. A member of the mint family of herbs, summer savory originates in southern Europe and has been used in food preparation for over 2,000 years.

This herb grows to 12 to 24 inches in height and has lilac tubular flowers which bloom from July to September. When the plants are in flower, they may be pulled up and dried for winter use.

Summer Savory is raised from seeds, sown early in April, in shallow drills, 9 inches or a foot apart. Select a sunny situation and thin out the seedlings, when large enough, to 6 inches apart in the rows. It likes a rich, light soil.
At Home Farm Herbery the seeds are broadcast after the last frost and then they are thinned out with the thinned out seedlings being planted in another bed at 6 inches distance from each other and well watered. The seeds are very slow in germinating.
The early spring seedlings may be first topped for fresh use in June. Woody stems are removed from summer savory leaves, which are then dried and pulverized to create a dense, leafy green powder.

Summer savory plays an important role in Bulgarian cuisine (the herb is called chubritsa, in Cyrllic ???????, in Bulgarian), providing a strong and pungent flavor to the most simple and the most extravagant of dishes. On a Bulgarian kitchen or restaurant table you will find three condiments: salt, paprika and savory and when these are mixed it is called sharena sol or colorful salt.
Many people believe it is a helpful expectorant for lungs and head, a useful digestive aid for flatulence and colic, a general tonic and for the prevention of diarrhea. Rubbing a sprig of Summer Savory on a bee or wasp sting is said to give instant relief.
Summer Savory bespeaks flavor, and in fact, summer savory (Satureja hortensis) imparts a delicious taste to almost any dish the gourmet prepares. However, I recommend you test your summer savory’s potency level before using it in your food, as the level of flavor tends to vary.
Though we do not use it as it was used in medieval times to enhance pies and cakes for a touch of spiciness; we do use it today primarily in soups, stews, and marinades, and with meats and vegetables. Germans refer to it as “the bean herb” because it is especially good with string beans, limas, navy beans, soybeans, all types of broad beans and it is used in many traditional Bavarian stewed bean recipes.

However, Summer Savory goes well with many other vegetables, such as cabbage, tomatoes, green peppers, asparagus, cauliflower, mixed greens, and rice. This versatile herb is also tasty in stuffing or dressing, sausages, and pork pie, and with chicken, fish, game meats, beef, lamb, and eggs and at Home Farm Herbery we like it in scrambled eggs, omelets, quiche and frittatas. When boiled with strong smelling foods like broccoli or sauerkraut, it helps prevent cooking odors and when it is steeped in vinegar or salad dressing, it lends an aromatic flavor. Summer savory can also be tossed into a salad or over vegetables and you will get a zesty, citrus flavor with every bite. It is a must when making gazpacho. People on low-sodium diets often find it an agreeable salt substitute.

In the days of the ancient Egyptians Summer Savory stirred the powdered herb into their love potions and they used it as a remedy for sore throats, dim vision, sciatica, palsy, intestinal disorders of various kinds, and the stings of wasps and bees. Nicholas Culpeper, the famous seventeenth century apothecary and author, valued it as a virtual cure-all and recommended that it always be kept on hand.

At our Home Farm Herbery on-line store we have noticed a considerable resurgence of the sale of not only our dried Summer Savory, but of our Heirloom Summer Savory seeds. You do not have to grow a big bed of it like we do as you can grow it in small pots as long as they have holes in the bottom and harvest the herb by snipping off the longest stems and then pinch off all the leaves.

Here is Home Farm Herbery’s famous Quiche Lorraine Recipe
1 recipe pie dough or a prepared frozen pie crust
1/2 pound of bacon (you can use more or less to your taste)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black pepper to taste (we used about 1/2 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup grated gruyere or other cheese (cheddar works too)
1 heaping tablespoon chopped chives
1 teaspoon dried Summer Savory or 2 heaping tsps. Freshly minced
If you are making your own pie crust, roll out the pie dough into a 12-inch round. Place it in a 10-inch wide, 1 1/2-inch high tart pan, pressing the dough into the corners. Use a rolling pin to roll over the surface of the tart pan to cleanly cut off the excess dough from the edges. Freeze for at least half an hour before blind-baking.
Pre-bake the frozen crust. Pre-baking is also called “blind” baking. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line the frozen crust with heavy duty aluminum foil or with parchment paper. Allow for a couple inches to extend beyond the sides of the tart or pie pan. Fill two-thirds with dry beans or other pie weights or poke many holes in it using a fork tine. If you are using a pan with a removable bottom, place the pan on a rimmed baking sheet in the oven to catch any spillage. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and remove the pie weights (the easiest way to do this is to lift up the foil by the edges) and the foil. Using the tines of a fork, poke little holes all around the base of the crust. Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes, until lightly browned all over. Remove from oven and set aside.
Cook the bacon. Heat a large frying pan on medium heat. Arrange strips of bacon in a single layer on the bottom of the pan (you may need to work in batches or do two pans at once). Slowly cook the bacon, turning the strips over occasionally until they are nicely browned and much of the fat has rendered out. Lay the cooked strips of bacon on a paper towel to absorb the excess fat. Chop the cooked bacon crosswise into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch pieces.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the nutmeg, salt, black pepper, Summer Savory and chives and whisk a little more. Add the milk and cream and whisk vigorously to incorporate and introduce a little air into the mix – this keeps the texture of the quiche light and fluffy.
Arrange the bacon and cheese in the bottom of the pie crust.
Whisk the egg-milk mixture hard again for a few seconds, then pour it gently into the pie crust. You want the bacon and cheese to be suspended in the mix, so you might need to gently stir it around just a little. You also want the chives, which will float, to be evenly arranged on top, so move them around with a spoon until you like where they are.

Put the quiche into the preheated oven and bake for 30-40 minutes. (If using pan with removable bottom, be sure to place a rimmed baking sheet underneath.) Check for doneness after 30 minutes by gently jiggling the quiche. It should still have just a little wiggle. (It will finish setting while it cools.) Cool on a wire rack.
Eat at room temperature, cold (a quiche will keep for several days in the fridge), or reheated gently in a 200-degree oven.
Yield: Serves 6.
May the Creative Force be with you
Arlene Wright-Correll
Home Farm Herbery
http://www.localharvest.org/store/M48630 Posted by Arlene @ 08:37 AM CDT

What’s A Good Summer Savory Substitute?

Summer savory is popular in the Mediterranean region for seasoning meat and bean dishes. Its piney, peppery flavor makes it perfect for pairing with milder flavored foods without overwhelming them. The flavor of summer savory is not as potent as the winter variety, which is stronger and bitterer. Do your best to find this herb if you want to cook lentils, make a stuffing or make a summer savory vinegar. If you are unable to find it or need it in a hurry, consider one of the summer savory alternatives below. You are likely to have at least one of them in your spice cabinet.

Your best bet: Thyme

Thyme is another herb from the Mediterranean and is similar to savory in that it too can stand up to long cooking times. This is why the French fines herbes mix often contains both herbs. Another benefit is that you may have an easier time finding fresh or dried thyme than summer savory.

Like summer savory, thyme has a pungent and minty characteristic. The two herbs also look like each other to the extent that if both are finely chopped, it is hard to tell the difference between them. When using thyme as a summer savory substitute, you can use it in exactly the same amount and in the same ways that you would use summer savory.

A decent second choice: Sage

Sage is yet another herb from the Mediterranean region. While it does not look much like savory, it’s quite similar in flavor. The leaves of the sage plant are much larger and wider than those of thyme and savory, but they provide the same pungent pine notes. Note that while thyme can be used fresh or dried, it is suggested that you only use fresh sage when seeking a summer savory replacement. Use it in the same amount that your recipe requires for summer savory. Slice the leaves finely if you need them to look more like savory.

In a pinch: Marjoram

Marjoram is a relative of oregano and has been described as having a flavor reminiscent of thyme and basil combined. It’s sweet and herbaceous with some of the same pine notes that you find in summer savory. Marjoram is considerably more delicate than savory, however. It cannot stand up to long cooking times; therefore, it is best to add toward the end. Use the same amount of marjoram that your recipe requires for summer savory.

Other alternatives

One effective way to find a good summer savory substitute is to experiment with herb combinations. Consider combining thyme and sage or thyme and mint to more accurately replicate the flavor of summer savory. You should also keep in mind the family to which summer savory belongs. It is a member of the labiatae family, which includes all of the substitutes above. It also contains a number of other good alternatives like oregano and basil. Both of those herbs should work well in dishes that require summer savory as can other labitae members like savory and hyssop.

Summer Savory

Summer Savory has a peppery bite with a light, herby flavor and aroma and the taste is a subtle cross between marjoram, mint and thyme. Also frequently called Savory Herb, Savory Spice, Garden Savory or the Bean Herb it is indigenous to the Mediterranean region and is a member of the mint family. More common and slightly milder than winter savory it possesses a strong flavor until it is cooked where it mellows considerably.
As with many spices and herbs it is best to add toward the end of the cooking process as it quickly loses it flavor when cooked too long.
Summer Savory is popular in flavored vinegars, herb butters, stuffing and meat pies and is frequently used with beans, beets, cabbage, chicken, fish, eggs, salads, chutneys, potatoes, cheese, sweet peppers, vinaigrette dressings and in soups (particularly beef, chicken and just about any creamy soup).
Works well in combination with basil, bay, cumin, garlic, marjoram, mint, oregano, parsley, rosemary and thyme.
Some of our favorite recipes using Summer Savory are Sweet and Spicy Herb Roasted Mixed Nuts, Citrus Salad, Low Sodium Roasted Chicken and Lemon and Herb Chicken Marinade.

Summer Savory Plant Care – Tips On Growing Summer Savory Herbs

Summer savory (Satureja hortensis) may not be as well known as some of its herb counterparts, but it’s a serious asset to any herb garden. Keep reading to learn more about growing summer savory herbs, including summer savory plant care.

Summer Savory Uses in the Garden

What is summer savory? It’s the annual equivalent of its close perennial cousin winter savory. While summer savory lasts for only one growing season, it’s thought to have the most superior flavor. It’s a popular ingredient in meat recipes, as well as oil, butter and vinegar infusions. Its flavor shines the most in bean dishes, however, earning it the name “the bean herb.”

Summer savory plants grow in a mound-like formation and tend to reach a foot in height. The plant has many thin, branching stems with a purple cast that are covered in fine hairs. The inch long leaves are much longer than they are wide and have a gray green color to them.

How to Grow Summer Savory Plants

Growing summer savory herbs is very easy. The plant likes rich, moist, well-drained soil and full sun. It also grows quickly and easily enough that it’s not at all a hassle to start a new crop each spring.

Summer savory plants can be sown as seed directly into the ground after all danger of frost has passed. The seeds can also be started indoors about 4 weeks before the last frost, then transplanted out in warmer weather. It can even be grown indoors during the winter.

Little summer savory plant care is necessary, other than watering. Harvest your summer savory by cutting off the tops when buds are just beginning to form. In order to have summer savory all summer long, sow new seeds once per week. This will allow you to have a constant supply of plants that are ready to harvest.

Savory herb plants, both summer and winter types, can provide your garden (and food dishes) with that extra pizazz.

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