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What are other CH's calling "Savory"?

OK, time to throw Jfood under the bus a little.

The word "savory" comes up often in threads. I've seen it on latkes, quiches, etc. and was wondering what the heck people are talking about. So I'll pull a thread together. I can understand a savory stew with deep, intense flavors, but what's a savory quiche, how can latkes with sour cream be savory?

Help please.

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  1. I think that savory generally refers to foods that aren't sweet - so a savory cheese cake would be not a strawberry cheese cake, but a gorgonzola cheese cake, if that makes sense.

    1. I agree with MMRuth (that seems to happen rather a lot!) I am making 'savoury' biscuits at the moment - those that aren't sweet that I will eat with cheese/pate. (ok some are a little sweet but not enough to call tham 'sweet' biscuits). Also savoury muffins with bran. In my eyes, if it isn't sweet it must be savoury.

      1. Salty, not sweet.

        It's just a way to distinguish from something sweet, like a sweet custard pie you may have for dessert, as opposed to a quiche with seafood, for instance (which normally doesn't call for sugar). There are the usual (sweet) muffins, quick breads or scones, & then there are savory ones which could have cheese, ham, sundried tomatoes, olives, etc in them (little or no sugar).

        1. I have associated the term "savory" with meat dishes like stews.

          Once I looked it up I found the word to be interesting.


          1. Sometimes I use the word savory to describe a mouth feel. Preference over sugary texture, layer of sweetness etc.

            Example: This holiday, some 40 dozen Rugelach later, I broke sweet (jams, sugars) and savory (cheese, nuts, herbed) in half and wrapped a mix.

            1. I agree that savory means "not sweet".
              Jfood, if you are an American, as am I, therein lies the problem.
              It has been my experience that the English (and Aussies) use the term savory frequently and we Americans do not.
              I once lived in Austraila and remember well my first grocery experience pondering a package of savory biscuits.....

              6 Replies
              1. re: Tee

                I'm thoroughly interested - if you (Americans) don't use savoury to mean 'not sweet' 1)what do you use it for? 2)What do you use to mean 'not sweet'?

                1. re: ali patts

                  1) I've heard it used as a synonym for delicious. 2)I can't think of an exact match.

                  1. re: ali patts

                    I am american and use it to mean not sweet.

                    1. re: ali patts

                      Well I think people just generally say, "not sweet". I'm Canadian, I didn't say savoury growing up, but picked it up from a roommate. When I met my DH he had no idea why I kept saying "savoury" (usually at breakfast time looking for something at the coffee shop that wasn't sweet). He eventually concluded that 'savoury' meant "with cheese or spinach" because that's what I usually ended up with.

                      1. re: ali patts

                        1) Used negatively more as a character reference, like "unsavory personality" 2) "not sweet"

                    2. Not to be confused with Savory the seasoning.

                      1. For breakfast, my husband likes sweets while I prefer savory. That means his biscuits/scones/toast will have jam or cinammon sugar while mine will include parsley, chives, smoked salmon or cheese instead.

                        For sweet, think sugar and spice.
                        For savory, think herbs and tart.
                        His breakfast cheese choice would be cream cheese sweetened with something while my cheese of choice would be Cheddar, Monterey Jack and unsweetened.

                        1. There are two ways I use the adjective:

                          Full of flavor.

                          Salt-based as opposed to sugar-based. It alway gets me when a new place opens up serving crepes, and they have only one batter, whether it be for dessert or the main course. So if you order banana and fudge or ham and cheese, it's the same crepe. My god, can't these people take even the tiniest effort? If their specialty is crepes, they should at least be able to offer both sweet crepes and savory crepes.

                          1. Though generally used to refer to something that is not sweet, savory is also a descriptive term for our fifth sensation of taste, which is called UMAMI.

                            UMAMI is not sweet/salty/sour/bitter but a different sensation altogether having to do with our perception of glutimates on the palate.

                            Read more about it http://www.umamiinfo.com/

                            Or google Umami or go to Amazon and look at some of the new Umami cookbooks.

                            1. OK GUYS.

                              Three cheers for helping me out. I now have a great idea on what Savory means or should I say I understand what it's anti-definition is.

                              Thanks to all.

                              1. My tastes run to savory over sweet. In practical terms, this means that given the choice between a piece of pie or cake for dessert and a third helping of mashed potatoes and gravy, I would probably choose the latter.

                                1. The term "savory" is usually used to describe dished that are not sweet. "Savory" is also an herb, and a term used to mean tasty.