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Cooking with Savory

By Cook's Illustrated Published May 2009

What is savory and what does it taste like? If it's not available at the supermarket, what would be a good substitute?

Native to the Mediterranean region, savory is an aromatic herb found in two varieties: winter and summer. The types are quite similar, though the flavor of the latter is slightly more delicate, and the former has a coarser texture. To find a substitute, we started by asking a panel of tasters to release the scent of the herb (we chose the more widely available summer savory) by rubbing the leaves between their fingers to draw out essential oils. Then they tasted the herb. Although savory is in the mint family, most tasters detected a stronger resemblance to thyme and sage.

To find out if a combination of thyme and sage could substitute for savory, we made batches of sausage stuffing and chicken soup with that combination and with the real thing. We replaced the 3 teaspoons of chopped fresh summer savory leaves in each recipe with 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh thyme leaves and 1 teaspoon of chopped fresh sage leaves. Sampled side by side, tasters approved of the substitution, claiming that the thyme-sage combination was nearly identical to savory.

SAVORY SUBSTITUTE

Replace summer savory with 2 parts fresh thyme to 1 part fresh sage.