Satureja - Savoury - December 2017 Plant of the Month
We grow three savourys in the Friends nursery; Satureja Montana, Satureja Montana ‘Procumbens’ and Satureja rupestris. They are semi-decidious perennials of the Lamiaceae family, native to the warm temperate regions of Europe. They have been used as a flavouring and as medicine by both the Greeks and Romans who introduced them to Britain 2000 years ago.
Savourys are easy to grow, requiring sunshine and any well drained soil. They become semi-dormant in Winter. We wait until the new growth appears in late Spring to cut back any old wood, and to take soft wood cuttings, which strike easily. Satureja rupestris is a taller and more sparce growing plant with soft blue-green foliage and pinky-mauve flowers in Spring, compared with the montanas which have dark green leaves and white flowers in Summer. Both Montana and Montana ‘Procumbens’ make good tough edging or container plants.
Claims of its usefulness as traditional medicine for the usual impossibly wide range of conditions may be overstated , but it is rich in essential carvacrol and thymol oils, which have antiseptic properties. The leaves of them all have a strong spicy flavour, along with a strong herbaceous smell, However, the flavour tends to diminish in longer cooked dishes. Harvest for use and drying in Summer when the oil content is highest.
* A popular strewing herb in Elizabethan times.
*Used to flavour salami and good for salt-free diets.
*Used as a companion plant to deter bean weevils and aphids and mildew in roses.
*Good flavouring for all legumes, as it is said to counteract flatulence
*The three we grow were thought to inhibit sexual desire. We tried to grow the Summer savoury, Satureja hortensis, which is said to be an aphrodisiac, with no success!