Savory is a flavor category, often applied as a contrast to sweet dishes. For example, dumplings is a savory dish, while cake is not. It implies a tart or a spicy taste, typically used in appetizers or main courses.
However, there are some dishes that fall under both the savory and the sweet categories. For example, sweet potatoes may be cooked with lamb as a savory, or simmered in a sugar sauce as a sweet. Pies can hold savory meat, or sweet fruit. This also applies to tartes, quiches, polentas, crepes, cous cous, shortbreads and soups.
The term savory is also used to describe herbs found in the mint family, Labiatae. Two of the most common savories are the spring (sometimes called winter) savory, and the summer savory.
Spring or winter savory is called Satureja Montana. It has beautiful pink and white flowers, and tends to have a strong flavor and a leathery texture. Summer savory is Satureja hortensis. Though it is endemic to southeast Europe it is now cultivated all over the world. It is often used in foccacia (a type of bread); bean, fish and egg dishes; marinades and stuffing’s; and even in making Italian seasoning blends. Spring or winter savory and summer savory can be used interchangeably. Dried varieties are found in the spice sections of all supermarkets.
Savory also has industrial applications, and is an ingredient in toothpaste and soup. It can also be used as a medicinal herb for helping digestion and disinfecting wounds. Some believe that gargling with savory can help prevent tooth decay and throat infections.