Oregano - Herbs And Spices Lexicon

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Oregano - Herbs And Spices Lexicon
Oregano - Herbs And Spices Lexicon

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oregano

The trade name oregano is a collective name for an aromatic leaf spice, which mostly comes from the genus Origanum from the mint family (Lamiaceae), which also includes mint and marjoram. However, oregano can also be the herb of around 60 other stem plants belonging to 17 different other genera and a total of six plant families…

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  • Botany
  • Ingredients, smell and taste
  • Use and preparation

Botany

The food books of the various European countries handle the composition of oregano differently, in the Austrian food code the following types of Origanum are specified:

  • Common Dost (Origanum vulgare)
  • Cretan or Greek Dost (Origanum onites)

Oregano available in Austrian stores mainly consists of the common dost, Origanum vulgare. Further information is available from the online grocery book.

Origanum vulgare is a perennial that grows wild in our country, up to one meter high with light pink to pale purple, rarely white flowers that have a bell-shaped calyx. The round to egg-shaped leaves are slightly hairy and up to four inches long.

Tip Origanum vulgare can easily be grown in the garden. If you want to dry it, you should wait until it blooms before harvesting, as the herb is then at its most flavorful. The plant likes it sunny, the soil shouldn't be too moist. It is hardy and sprouts again in spring.

Ingredients, smell and taste

Oregano has an intensely spicy, smoky, peppery to hot aroma with a slight bitter note. The most important components and therefore odor-determining are two phenols, carvacrol and thymol. Usually carvacrol is the main ingredient. In addition, γ-terpinene and ρ-cymene can be contained in the essential oil.

Use and preparation

Along with basil, oregano is a classic Italian spice and is very popular throughout the Mediterranean region, particularly in Greece. Various dishes with meat, fish and vegetables (especially tomatoes) as well as pasta, pizza and salads are rounded off with oregano. Mexican oregano is often used in Latin American cuisine, for example in chili con carne.

The leaves of the Origanum species are used fresh, but mostly in a dried, stripped form. Drying will make the aroma more intense. The different Origanum species can also be part of various herbal mixtures, e.g. Mediterranean mixture. Oregano should not be cooked too long and it is best to add it to the food at the end of preparation.

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