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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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A delicately bitter herb that enhances many dishes

Don't think that oregano only tastes good on a pizza or in a tomato sauce. The delicately bitter herb is good in soups, antipasti, roasted vegetables, meat and fish. Heat makes the flavour even more powerful, so add it at least 15 minutes before the end of cooking. 

 

 

Despite its inherently powerful flavour – the characteristic aroma comes from essential oils such as thymol and carvacrol – oregano blends well with other Mediterranean herbs like thyme and rosemary. It's one of the ingredients in the French "Herbes d'Provence". But don't try to mix it with marjoram; although the plants are closely related, their flavours are antagonistic.

Oregano likes a dry and sunny site

Oregano (Origanum vulgare) is a bushy, perennial plant, a member of the labiate family. The oval leaves are slightly hairy, and pointed. Oregano plants can grow up to around 60 cm high and it grows especially well around the Mediterranean. The plant flourishes on hot, sunny and stony mountain slopes, which also explains the name "jewel of the mountains (from the Greek, oros = mountain, gonos = jewel). Oregano has been used as a medicinal plant since the Middle Ages. It is antibacterial, it stimulates the appetite and helps with digestive problems and breathing problems.

Grow your own oregano

Find a warm and sunny spot to grow your oregano. The warmer and sunnier, the more intensive the aroma will be. Light, well-drained and rather dry soil is best. You can cut a handful of oregano anytime you need it during the growing season. 

 

Oregano dries very successfully for use during the winter. While many herbs lose some of their intensive aroma when they are dried, the contrary is true for oregano. Its flavour intensifies by as much as ten times. A good time to harvest oregano is just before it flowers when the flavour is most intense. Use a pair of scissors to cut handfuls about 10 cm from the ground. Tie the stalks in bunches and hang them upside down in a cool and airy place to dry. 

 

 

Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de