Oregano is my fourth pick for the most essential herbs you should have in your kitchen.
Oregano is a perennial with rose-purple or white flowers. It has two primary types: Mediterranean and Mexican.
Mediterranean oregano is a member of the mint family and is typically milder than Mexican oregano. It is generally grown in the European area.
Mexican oregano is a relative of lemon verbena and is typically grown in Central and South America.
Oregano has a hint of sweetness combined with some spiciness which adds warmth to just about any dish.
Oregano could be called the essential herb for any kitchen as it is one of the foundations of Greek and Italian cuisine. It has the ability to draw out the best in tomato-based sauces and dishes. Many other ingredients are also enhanced when blended with oregano. It is often used for Greek-style dishes and it also makes an excellent seasoning for meats, egg dishes, legumes, poultry, and breads.
Oregano is generally purchased and consumed as a dried herb because the dried version has a more concentrated flavor and less can be used. Finding fresh oregano can sometimes be challenging.
Mediterranean oregano is generally best for European inspired dishes such as: tomato sauces, grilled meats, pizzas, and other dishes with bold flavors.
Mexican oregano is generally best for Latin American inspired dishes and pairs well with chili-peppers, cumin, and paprika.
Health Benefits of Oregano
Oils are often created from oregano leaves and can be used to treat the following:
- respiratory issues
- digestive issues
- skin conditions such as dandruff and psoriasis
- parasitic infections
- fungal infections
- muscle aches and joint pain.
Oregano is an excellent source of:
- vitamin A (immune system and vision)
- vitamin C
- vitamin E (antioxidant for cell protection)
- vitamin K (prevent blood clotting).
- high amounts of folate (RNA and DNA building blocks)
- iron (anemia prevention)
- magnesium and calcium (for metabolizing the bones)
- healthy amounts of vitamin B6 (brain function)
- potassium (heart and blood pressure)
Oregano is excellent at neutralizing free radicals. At 42 times the antioxidant rate of apples, has one of the highest antioxidant activity ratings.
Oregano is a generally hardy plant that makes a good ground cover. Given the right conditions it can spread quickly and since it is a perennial plant it keeps coming back and tends to spread more and more each year.
If you wish to contain it to a small area it may be best to plant it in a container of some kind.
Both the leaves and the flower are edible and have similar flavors.
During cold times of the year oregano should be mulched or covered to protect roots from freezing.
Oregano germinates for 7 – 14 days and is harvestable in 11 – 13 weeks.