Oregano

Earthy and intense with hints of clove and balsam, Oregano has a sweet aromatic flavour.  Its slightly bitter overtone makes it an ideal herb in Italian and Spanish-style dishes.  Because of its pungency, oregano requires a bit of caution in its use.  Meat loaves, sauces, stews and stuffings will benefit from a touch of oregano. Oregano is also known as “wild marjoram” since it is closely related to the herb sweet marjoram.  It is a small shrub with multi-branched stems covered with small grayish-green oval leaves and small white or pink flowers.

Growing: Oregano is a hardy perennial that prefers a sunny, well-drained position.  Keep well watered and free from weeds.  Ideal for planting in tubs or large pots.  A spreading plant good as a ground cover.  Leaves can be snipped as needed.  For best flavour, harvest leaves just as flower buds form.

Storage: Fresh oregano should be stored in the refrigerator wrapped in a slightly damp paper towel.  It may also be frozen, either whole or chopped, in airtight containers. Alternatively, you can freeze the oregano in ice cube trays covered with either water or stock that can be added when preparing soups or stews.  Dried oregano should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place where it will keep fresh for about six months. 

General Use: Strip leaves from the stem and discard the stem.  Add Oregano to cooked dishes towards the end of cooking to capture the full flavour.

Oregano goes well in almost any tomato dish, pasta sauces, pizza, chilli con carne and barbecue sauce.  Excellent in egg and cheese dishes, meat or poultry stuffings, on pork, lamb, chicken and fish.  Oregano is common in Italian, Greek and Mexican dishes.

Adding a few sprigs of fresh oregano to a container of olive oil will infuse the oil with the essence of the herb.