Sunday, March 22, 2009

Summer Savory (Satureja hortensis)

Summer savory (Satureja hortensis), also known as bean herb, is an anual herb which grow to 1 to 1.5 feet tall. It has small, aromatic leaves that are shiny and green; about 1/2 inch long, are entire, oblong-linear, acute, shortly narrowed at the base into petioles, often fascicled. The hairs on the stem are short and decurved. It flowers in July, having small, pale lilac labiate flowers, axillary, on short pedicels, the common peduncle sometimes three-flowered. It attracts to bees and causes them to make flavorsome honey.

How to grow
Broadcast seeds in early to mid spring, in rows 1 foot apart. Allow 2 to 3 weeks for germination at 18-20 degree Celsius. Thin established seedlings to 6 to 9 inches apart. The plant prefers full sun, in rich, light, well-drained soil. Pinch mature plants often to discourage flowering. If plants get floppy, mound soil slightly around their bases. Leaves are most flavorful before flowers form in midsummer. Cut plant partially back for second crop. You can begin harvesting leaves when plants are 6 inches high.

The leaves have a peppery, somewhat mintlike flavor. Traditionally, it is used to season beans. It can also be used in sausages, stuffings, meat pies, soups, stews, rice and sauces for pork, lamb, veal and poultry. Add fresh leaves to salads, fish dishes and omelets. Brew into fragrant, tangy tea; or add to vinegar for use in salad dressing.

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