Cooking With Summer Savory: The Dos And Don’ts

Summer savory is a versatile herb with a flavor profile that is indicated by its name — it is known for making dishes more savory. If you have experience with other strong herbs like oregano and thyme, you can think of summer savory as falling into the same category. Here are some of the dos and don’ts of working with summer savory.

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Do use summer savory in moderation.

Summer savory resembles both sage and thyme in its flavor profile and is similar to both of them in terms of its pungency. All three herbs come with a strong flavor that can easily dominate the taste of a dish if you aren’t careful. If you have never used summer savory before, start with a modest amount and increase to taste. 

Do remove sprigs of summer savory from the pot before serving the dish.

As with thyme, it is best not to leave whole sprigs of summer savory in your dish. This is for two reasons: the risk of over-flavoring your dish and the potential choking hazard presented by the woody stems. 

Do use a fork to strip summer savory leaves from the stems to add them to your dish.

Stripping the leaves is a good alternative to using whole sprigs. The leaves are not quite as easy to remove as thyme leaves, so to speed up the process, place the stem between the tines of a fork and pull down to get the leaves off. 

Do use summer savory alongside other mint-related herbs.

Summer savory works best when you combine it with other members of the Lamiaceae family. For example, you can use it in a dish that features other pungent mint relatives like rosemary or oregano. 

Do preserve summer savory correctly.

You have several options when it comes to preserving this herb. The easiest way to extend its usable life is to dry it, which you can do with a food dehydrator or by spreading the leaves on a cookie sheet and drying them in an oven. Alternatively, you can do it the old-fashioned way by tying the sprigs together and hanging them in an area with moving air.

Aside from drying, other good ways to preserve summer savory include freezing it. Freeze the sprigs on a cookie sheet then strip the leaves off into freezer bags (using the fork method) and store them in the freezer. Note also that fresh summer savory can last for a few weeks in a resealable bag in your refrigerator’s crisper drawer.

Do use summer savory in your herbes de Provence blend.

Summer savory is one of the essential ingredients in a traditional herbes de Provence. This is a mix of the traditional herbs used in the French region of Provence. 

Do use summer savory in a bouquet garni.

Summer savory is a great addition to the French bouquet garni. While there is no universal bouquet garni recipe — its a blend of herbs and sometimes spices chosen to work in a particular dish — summer savory is one of the ingredients that will work in most blends. 

Don’t confuse summer savory with winter savory.

Summer savory is similar to winter savory in that the two herbs are the best substitutes for each other; however, there are some significant differences. Winter savory has a more bitter and earthy flavor profile. Summer savory is the sweeter and milder herb, which is why it is preferred for sausages and salads.