Oh how I love oregano!
A hero in the garden, a hero in the kitchen and a hero in the medicine cabinet! Oregano really is an all ‘round hero herb!
Oregano, the culinary variety, is a low spreading perennial herb with small leaves and spikes of white flowers. I think the Greeks got it right when they described oregano as “joy of the mountain”. While it originated in the hilly Greek countryside, this aromatic ancient culinary herb is now grown all over the world.
In the garden:
This is a great herb to start with as a first-time gardener. From the Mediterranean, oregano likes a warm, free draining position. Great for your garden hot spots, grow it in a north facing raised bed or in a container and take it inside when the weather gets frosty. A pot of oregano will be happy on a cool, sunny window until it warms up again outside.
In my frost free, north facing courtyard in Melbourne the oregano dies back a bit in winter and then takes off again in spring. It is a very low maintenance addition to the garden.
You can of course buy a little pot at a nursery or try propagating it yourself. Oregano will grow from seed in spring or from a divided root clump or cutting in spring or autumn.
Oregano leaves and flowers can be harvested fresh whenever you need it and dried in bunches in summer to get you through the winter months. In fact, oregano’s flavour is better as a dried herb than fresh and like most spices, loses its flavour and benefits over time.
In the kitchen:
Oregano is a must-have in any kitchen. You can brighten up any meal with a few leaves and oregano works well with most Mediterranean dishes, from fish to chicken to risotto to vegetables.
There is nothing quite like harvesting just the right amount of herb from your garden, no waste and always fresh! Throw it into your pasta sauce or on a pizza, its pungent, spicy, slightly bitter flavour pairs especially well with tomatoes.
Sprigs of the herb look beautiful in a bottle and make a useful gift. Just put a couple of sprigs of oregano in olive oil and the essence and flavour will give new life to cooking creations.
In the medicine cabinet:
Oregano is loaded with antioxidants and is an excellent source of fiber, vitamins and minerals. Herbs really pack a nutritional punch!
It is an antiseptic and a calmative. It can be used as an infusion (tea) to help with colds and a sore throat, to ease a headache and settle the digestive system. It also makes a handy gargle for mouth ulsers and infections.