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Oregano

Name: Greek Oregano
Latin Name: Origanum Vulgare subsp. hirtum
Family: Labiatae
Life Cycle: Perennial
Hardy to: Zone 5
Height: 1½ to 2 feet
Pruning: Cut back hard after flowering
Number to plant for average kitchen: 3
Special Growing Requirements: Likes sun and well-drained soil. Rapid spreader.
Pests & Diseases: None of note

Cooking with Greek Oregano
Parts used: leaves
flavor characteristics: fierce peppery bite underscored with mint, thyme, and camphor flavors

average amount of chopped leaf for 6 servings: 2 tablespoons
Goes well with: tomatoes, summer squashes, eggplants, peppers, beef, lamb, oily fish, squid, garlic, citrus, olives, capers, anchovies
best herbal partners: basil?, chives?, mint?, parsley?, rosemary?, sage?, savory?, thyme


There are other types of oregano, and most widely grown is a wild variety that is often called common oregano, O. vulgare subsp. vulgare. It looks almost the same as the Greek, but it's a more vigorous grower and, instead of all-white flowers, its blossoms range from blush white to deep pink. It may take a trained eye to tell them apart by sight, but a sniff will instantly reveal the difference. Common oregano has a very weak, almost negligible, flavor.

One simple rule: Before you buy it, smell it. It should smell strongly and taste even hotter.

The flavor is bold, so it's a foreground flavor that can overpower, and is quite durable through most cooking proceses, and is well-paired with other strong Mediterranean herbs.

The flavor we connect with oregano comes from the essential oil cavracol. Plants lbabeled Syrian, Turkish, or Turkistan oregano will generally have a flavor somewhere between Greek oregano and sweet marjoram. Dittany of Crete is a low grower with thick fuzzy leaves, a strong flavor, and little sweetness. Pot marjoram is another very strong-tasting oregano. It will not withstand frost, but it's the best choice for growing indoors.

There are completely unrelated plants that contain cavracol and lend the same flavor in cooking, including Oregano thyme, Mexican oregano(related to lemon verbena), and Cuban oregano.

Growing:
Like most Mediterranean herbs, oregano likes well-drained soil and lots of sun. These two simple requirements can please it so much that it will invade your entire herb bed. Also, don't grow common oregano anywhere near other oregano varieties — it may replace them.

You can harvest oregano sprigs as far down the plant as you like. After the plant flowers, cut the stems back by at least two-thirds to encourage fresh growth from the base. The plants can go through several flowering cycles each season, depending on your climate.

Source:
The Herbfarm cookbook by Jerry Traunfield - ISBN 0684839768
Pest and Disease info from the new Northern Gardener - ISBN 1552090124

Created by admin. Last Modification: Thursday 24 of August, 2006 16:44:53 PDT by admin.