Savory was already known in ancient times and was cultivated in the Middle Ages as a medicinal plant in the monasteries and gardens of Charlemagne. Known since the beginning of our era, it crossed civilizations with a reputation for being an aphrodisiac and regulating the eagerness. Perhaps this is due primarily to its Latin etymology “satureja” which means herb of satyr (a mythological half-man, half-goat creature).
Romans and Greeks also liked it a lot because it was one of the tastiest culinary condiments long before the arrival of peppers. People of Provence, in whose cooking it became indispensable, also called it “donkey’s pepper.” Gradually, it was also found to have digestive, stimulant and sedative properties, so it was as popular in cooking as in pharmacies.
Savory is particularly at ease on light and calcareous soils and likes sun. To cultivate it, seedlings should be planted in April and May. We distinguish two different species:
- Summer savory or garden savory (Satureja hortensis): an annual herb. Its hairy stems have long, narrow leaves of bright green color. In summer, white to pale pink flowers appear. This variety has a delicate and somewhat sweet taste. Member of the labiaceae family (labiate), the annual savory (Satureja hortensis) forms a small bush whose size can reach 30-40cm. The leaves are linear-oblanceolate (as spearheads, top wider than bottom), up to 3cm in length. The smell of the plant is strong but pleasant, very reminiscent of camphor and lightly of mint. Native to southern Europe, this hardy plant prefers a well-drained light soil. It is easy to grow and of rapid growth.
- Winter savory or mountain savory (Satureja montana): a perennial, semi-persistent. Its woody stems form a compact bush with dark green foliage. Its flowers, located only at the tip of the branches, are purple. It has a strong and spicy aroma. Harvest and storage: pick the stems as needed, harvest in full bloom. The plant keeps well dried. Leaves and flowers (fresh and dried) are used.
Summer savory is part of the “Herbes de Provence” mix. Although it is mostly used in cooking, it also has medicinal properties: it is stimulating, tonic, general antiseptic, anthelmintic, carminative, antispasmodic and aphrodisiac; helps with digestion; increases perspiration and stimulates the uterus and the nervous system.
Summer savory is the pre-eminent aromatic of Acadians, French people living in Acadie. Acadie before the deportation of 1755, was geographically identified as the Maritime Provinces of Canada, of today: Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and New -Brunswick. Acadians deported and dispersed, are living in several countries of the world today. The most commonly accepted definition of Acadie is a North American region with approximately 500,000 inhabitants. Today, Acadie is also defined as “in the heart” (a sense of belonging to a group, descendants of Acadians). Summer savory Ancienne d’Acadie has adapted to the soil and climate of eastern Canada. It is more resistant than the variety commonly grown; its growth habit is also distinct, shorter and stockier. It is less productive (having fewer leaves) but has a stronger taste.
Savory is essential to Acadian cooking:
- in Acadian ’fricot’ (made with hen, chicken, turkey, hare …)
- in potato stuffing (served with roasted chicken or turkey)
- in meat pies
- in soups
- in Herbes de Provence mix
- in barley and snap bean soup