Oregano is a culinary work
horse popular in Greek, Italian
and Mexican cuisine. Mexican
oregano is not from the same
botanical family as the Greek
and Italian varieties, however.
It is stronger in flavor and is not
an ideal substitute for the other
types in recipes.
Some types of oregano are more
prized for their ornamental
qualities than for their culinary
appeal, however. ‘Kent Beauty’
is one notable non-culinary
variety worth inviting into your garden. This show stopper is grown primarily
for its gorgeous hop-like flowers and
eye-catching trailing foliage.
Growing Tips & Facts:
Greek and Italian oregano are part
of the mint family, along with basil, rosemary, thyme and many other popular culinary herbs. Like its siblings, these perennial varieties prefer full
sun, with some afternoon shade in hot climates. Plants will perform best in
In warm climates, Oregano is
evergreen. In colder areas, the plants
will need some protection in the form
of mulch or cold frames to survive the winter. Oregano grown in portable containers can be brought indoors for fresh flavor all year long.
Tips for Using & Storing Oregano
Oregano is one of the most popular culinary herbs for a reason. It is hard to imagine many classic Italian dishes, especially those featuring succulent tomato sauces, without its distinctive flavor.
There are a lot of ways to use fresh oregano, as well. It is delicious in baked breads or in herb butter. You can also sprinkle the leaves over mixed salad greens or add them to homemade vinaigrettes or marinades. Crush the leaves with your fingers a bit first to release more flavor.
Fresh oregano doesn’t stand up well to heat, however. Add it in the last 5 to 10 minutes of cooking instead. Use dried oregano in tomato sauces, soups or stews that require longer cooking times. Keep in mind, however, that oregano is one of the few herbs that is stronger when dried than fresh, so adjust the amount you use accordingly.
Oregano can be frozen alone or in ice cube trays with water or olive oil. It can also be dried and stored in an airtight container or preserved in butter for future use.