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Old 06-25-2005, 10:59 PM   #1
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Define "savory"

I used to think this term meant everything that was not sweet, as in the term: sweet and savory. AFter reading through the Joy of Cooking now I am not so sure; again the book did not define this term but the context it used it in seemed to have a specific idea in mind and not just non-sweet.

Other people I think will say it means a sort of richness of flavor, sort of like the term "unami." Is that the general accepted definition of the term savory? I'd be interested in seeing what the members think this term means to them.

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Old 06-26-2005, 12:46 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jpinmaryland
Other people I think will say it means a sort of richness of flavor, sort of like the term "unami." Is that the general accepted definition of the term savory? I'd be interested in seeing what the members think this term means to them.
Yeah that is how I always thought it meant. Celery, for instance, would not be considered savory in my opinion, but a slice of cheddar would.

I am moving this to the Terms and Techniques forum
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Old 06-26-2005, 12:46 AM   #3
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It depends ... generally sweet is something that includes sugar in the ingredients or is intended to make a sweet like a dessert - savory generally does not include sugar or is not intended for a sweet dish (although it MIGHT include some sugar to counteract the acidity of another ingredient - like in a tomato based pasta sauce), may include herbs or spices, or is intended to be used in a non-sweet application.

For example - you could use the same recipe to make a tart or pie crust (in which case it would be a sweet) or something like a Cornish Pasty (which would be a savory).
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Old 06-26-2005, 03:57 AM   #4
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So if I Understand correctly, Michael opts for the non sweet definition and GB goes with the unami type of definition. DO I understand you two correctly?

Also what was the reason for the moving the thread? It did throw me off when I came back to the site and found it was not there. No big deal I found it easy enuf but I could see a newbie getting messed up. So what's the rationale?
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Old 06-26-2005, 04:15 AM   #5
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IMO, savory describes the richness in flavor, but not pertaining to any fruit, vegetable, or sweet type dish. Savory to me describes more of a sauce rather than a piece of food.

Some examples of what I consider to be savory are:

Demi Glace
Ragout
Natural Jus
Red Wine/Stock Reduction
Porcini or similar type Mushroom Reduction
Pan Gravies

To me, a piece of steak by itself cannot be savory, but a piece of steak served with a rich peppercorn demi can be savory.
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Old 06-26-2005, 07:58 AM   #6
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I look at it both ways, and accept both definitions. "Savory", classically, means something non-sweet, and is usually applied to dishes that can go both ways, like "Sweet" and "Savory" pies, etc. However, in modern usage, "Savory" can also be applied to as a description to any well-seasoned food, like the way I make my Roast Chicken, covered in herbs.
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Old 06-26-2005, 12:52 PM   #7
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Okay but under either def'n it is still confusing to use the term in a list of the basic tastes. E.g. a list that goes: "sweet, sour, bitter, savory.." something like that. Right? Because the term savory encompasses more than one of the basic tastes and so it is different from the other terms in the list.
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Old 06-26-2005, 01:08 PM   #8
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we're getting there. Savory is very much a combination term. Rich with natural flavors juices and seasonings. often reduced or intensified. Tomato basil bruschetta can be savory, but is often described as fresh or refreshing; olive garlic anchovie tapande may be savory, roast chicken with varous root vegetables and gravy made with pan drippings, herbs etc would be savory etc. A sausage cheese biscuit and on it goes. It's more than sweet, or creamy, or sour, but may include them. I suppose even a sweet curry could be considered savory because of the complexity of the spices with the coconut milk and the other juices, vegetable or meat, involved. And that's probably the key, a complex taste experience with depth of flavor from many combined ingredients.
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Old 06-26-2005, 05:15 PM   #9
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its probably no coincidence that those ingredients that provide unami seem to get mentioned again and again. Let's see if I know them: tomatoes, mushrooms, cheese, seaweed, MSG, I think those are the main ones...Perhaps we can amend our def'n to say that savory usually associated with these types of ingredients. Anchovies too?
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Old 06-27-2005, 10:59 AM   #10
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I am guessing that the term savory is another one of those terms that has taken on different meanings over time.

I just happened to be watching the Simpsons last night and this was one of the lines. I thought it was quite appropriate to our discussion ...

Bart: Sweeeet, Fresh Meat
Millhouse: Meats not sweet, it's savory.

jpinmaryland I moved this thread because you were asking about a definition of a cooking term. Things like that belong in the Terms and Techniques forum. Once of the jobs of helpers and administrators is to keep the board in a logical order. I always reply within the post I move letting everyone know that the post has a new location. If you get email notifications of new posts then you will see the message that the thread has been moved
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