Satureja is a genus of aromatic plants of the family Lamiaceae, related to rosemary and thyme. There are about 30 species called savories, of which summer savory and winter savory are the most important in cultivation.
Satureja species are native to warm temperate regions and may be annual or perennial. They are low-growing herbs and subshrubs, reaching heights of 15–50 cm.
The leaves are 1 to 3 cm long, with flowers forming in whorls on the stem, white to pale pink-violet.
Satureja species are food plants for the larva of some Lepidoptera. Caterpillars of the moth Coleophora bifrondella feed exclusively on winter savory. Savory may be grown purely for ornamental purposes; members of the genus need sun and well-drained soil.
Both summer savory and winter savory are used to flavor food. The former is preferred by cooks but as an annual is only available in summer; winter savory is an evergreen perennial.
Savory plays an important part in Bulgarian and Italian cuisine, particularly when cooking beans. It is also used to season the traditional Acadian stew known as fricot. Savory is also a key ingredient in sarmale, a stuffed cabbage dish in traditional Romanian cuisine. The modern spice mixture Herbes de Provence has savory as one of the principal ingredients.
Yerba buena is used to make a herbal tea in the western United States.
he plant bears dark green colored smooth leaves and small purple color flowers. Winter savory has similar growth characters; however, it features more branching; hard and woody stems.
Several wild cultivars exist apart from the garden savory. Satureja douglasii or yerba buena is one of the herbs has been in use by the indigenous Americans of California and Alaskan regions as an herbal tea. Satureja thymbra, is another wild herb that grows in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern countries and is known for its high carvacrol or thymol content.
Dry savory herb has amazingly high levels of vitamins and minerals. Just 100 g of ground dry herb provides (% of Recommended daily allowance):- 120% of dietary fiber, 25% of niacin, 130% of vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), 83% of vitamin C, 177% of vitamin A, 474% of iron, 210% of calcium, 94% of magnesium, and 265% of manganese but no cholesterol.
Savory leaves and tender shoots contain incredibly high-quality chemical compounds that are known to have been anti-oxidant, disease preventing and health promoting properties. In addition, dietary fiber in this herb helps reduce LDL or bad cholesterol while increasing HDL or good cholesterol levels.
Savory leaves contain many essential volatile-oil phenols such as thymol and carvacrol, as well as linalool, camphene, caryophyllene, terpineol, myrcene, and other terpenoids.
Thymol, one of the important essential oils, has scientifically been found to have antiseptic, anti-fungal characteristics.
In addition, another phenolic compound, carvacrol in savory inhibits the growth of several bacteria strains like E. coli, and Bacillus cereus. Carvacrol, therefore, has been used as healthy food additive for its anti-bacterial properties, besides it gives pleasant tangy taste and marjoram like a smell to the food.
Savory herb is an excellent source of minerals and vitamins that are essential for optimum health. Its leaves and tender shoots are one of the richest sources of potasium, iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and selenium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. Iron is required for red blood cell formation.
The herb is also a rich source of many important vitamins such as B-complex group vitamins, vitamin-A, vitamin-C, niacin, thiamin and pyridoxine.
Dry savory provides 1.810 mg of vitamin B-6 or pyridoxine; furnishing about 130% of RDA. Pyridoxine keeps up GABA (soothing neurotransmitter) levels in the brain, which has stress buster function.
Vitamin C helps the body develop resistance against infectious agents and scavenge harmful, pro-inflammatory free radicals.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin and antioxidant that are required maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin and is also essential for good eye-sight. Consumption of natural fruits rich in flavonoids like vitamin A, carotenes helps protect from lung and oral cavity cancers.
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