Thursday, 10 August 2017


“To win the people, always cook them some savoury that pleases them..” – Aristophanes 

Winter savoury (Satureja montana) is a perennial herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to warm temperate regions of southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It is a perennial plant growing to 40 cm tall. The leaves are opposite, oval-lanceolate, 1–2 cm long and 5 mm broad. The herb has spike-like clusters of tubular 2-lipped, white flowers in summer. Superficially, this herb resembles a blooming rosemary bush with very pale flowers.

Winter savoury  is easy to grow, and it makes an attractive border plant for any culinary herb garden. It requires six hours of sun a day in soil that drains well. S. montana ‘Nana’ is a dwarf cultivar, which can be grown in well-drained pots. In temperate climates it goes dormant in winter, putting out leaves on the bare stems again in the spring. It is important to not cut the plant back, as all those stems which appear dead will leaf out again. It is hardy and has a low bunching habit. It is used as a companion plant for beans, keeping bean weevils away, and also roses, reducing mildew and aphids.

 Winter savoury has been used in the garden, kitchen and apothecary’s shop for hundreds of years. Both this herb and summer savoury (Satureja hortensis) have been grown and used, virtually side by side. Both have strong, spicy flavours. It goes particularly well with any type of mushroom, or in white sauces, and is very good in potato salads. Small amounts spice a regular salad well. We add the herb to beans and meats, especially lighter meats such as chicken or turkey, and can be used in stuffings. It has a rich herbaceous aroma when crushed, however, it should be noted that the intense flavour is lost when the herb is cooked.

Winter savoury has been purported to have antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, and digestive properties. It has also been used as an expectorant and in the treatment of stings. The plant has a stronger action than the closely related summer savoury. Taken internally, it is said to be a remedy for colic and a cure for flatulence, whilst it is also used to treat gastroenteritis, cystitis, nausea, diarrhoea, bronchial congestion, sore throat and menstrual disorders. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women.

A sprig of the plant, rubbed onto bee or wasp stings, is said to bring instant relief. Therapeutic-grade oil has been shown to inhibit the growth of Candida albicans. The plant is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be used fresh or dried. The essential oil forms an ingredient in lotions for the scalp in cases of incipient baldness. An ointment made from the plant is used externally to relieve arthritic joints. In traditional herbal medicine, summer savoury was believed to be an aphrodisiac, while winter savoury was believed to inhibit sexual desire.

The herb in the language of flowers has meanings that relate to curbing of carnal desire. A sprig of the non-flowering herb means: “My intentions are honourable”. A sprig of the flowering herb says: “My interest in you is purely platonic.” 

This post is part of the Floral Friday Fotos meme.

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