Of all the herbs available, Oregano is the one which I find is most useful, most versatile, for most of the year and for many dishes.
It is especially useful as a dried herb although of course, it can be used fresh.
It’s wonderful aroma and essential oils add a flavor and sweetness to food. It’s makes the ordinary so much nicer! Home grown oregano has beautiful pungent oils when on mass, and the taste and freshness exceeds that which is found in small bottles in the supermarket. If you buy the unprocessed version from a continental supermarket it’s much more expensive but is the genuine article!
The good news is that this is a wonderful herb to grow in your garden, or even in a pot. It is a little slow and fussy getting going, but once established is a fantastic perennial.
Some years ago now I was watching my elderly Italian neighbor harvesting his oregano. The oregano was in full flower, with the bees buzzing merrily around. I asked him about the timing of the harvest. He paused, looked at me through narrowed eyes and replied in an incredulous manner, which implied my complete stupidity for not knowing. Nevertheless I was grateful for his tutelage. These gems of knowledge are priceless. So from that time on, I have harvested my oregano in full flower, in early summer, for drying.
I just lay the cut branches in a big basket. In a few weeks they will dry. Having said that, it will keep like that for many many months. When you are ready, get a large bowl or container and rub each stem including the flowers, over the bowl. Discard the stems. Sift through a large holed colander, to remove the small stems. Pack the oregano into airtight jars. I make sure I have several jars available to get through the winter months.
I use my oregano on roast meats, poultry and vegetables. In meatballs and gravies. In vegetarian burgers. In Mediterranean and Mexican dishes. It’s excellent for pasta dishes of any kind and for tomato sauces and spaghetti sauces. I will add it to pizza bases after the sauce and to bread toppings for focaccia and flat breads and it’s wonderful in salad dressings too.
Here are some recipe examples.
If you want to use the oregano fresh, that is best picked in early spring, when the growth is soft and new, before flowering. At this time it can be used in all the ways previously described, and will make an excellent pesto when other fresh herbs are not so plentiful and more expensive.
Having a supply of dried oregano at home will enhance your recipes. It will save a lot of time and money in the long run. And leave you free for other projects like this.
Happy New Year! May you add some oregano joy to your cooking!