Savory (Satureja hortensis) is an old-fashioned, mild culinary herb that cooks have used for centuries. Savory is used medicinally to treat digestive problems. Savory has a rich taste but contains very little sodium, so it is useful as a flavoring for those trying to lose weight or adhere to a low-sodium diet. It aids digestion, replaces salt, pepper and spices for seasoning vegetables, and enhances salads.
Sixteenth-century herbalist Gerard believed savories made people thin and prevented flatulence, so cooks boiled it and served it with beans, peas and other legumes. To ancient Egyptians, the herb was an aphrodisiac. The Romans were quick to pick up on the love connection and named the plant satureia, dedicating the herb to the satyr (the half-man, half-goat deity that roamed the woodlands of mythology). The Romans brought savory with them to England, where they mixed the herb with beeswax and used it as a women’s massage salve. The French, meanwhile, sipped a potion of savory mixed with wine. Savory’s romantic reputation came to a halt when colonists brought savory from England to North America and used the herb in a tea to cure diarrhea. Herbalists recommend drinking 1 cup of tea per day, made from 2 teaspoons fresh savory steeped in 1 cup boiling water, covered, for four minutes.