Organic Mediterranean Oregano
Organic Mediterranean Oregano, Origanum vulgare is a member of the Lamiaceae, or mint, family. Other members of this family include basil, lavender, marjoram, mint, rosemary, sage, savory and thyme. It is a robust herb that is both complex and strongly aromatic (a bit camphoraceous). There are so many plants that are called oregano, some have suggested that it should be considered a flavor instead of a specific species. Oregano is closely related to marjoram (Origanum majorana), and for many years it was frequently called "wild marjoram." There are a handful of botanists who are of the opinion that Marjoram and Oregano are practically indistinguishable, but this sentiment is not shared by most chefs who feel that these two herbs have quite unique flavor profiles.
Oregano grows throughout Europe, Asia, Turkey, Egypt, the United States, and in very limited quantities in Greece.
Mediterranean Oregano has an essential oil composition of about 1.0% to 2%, and that is mostly phenols and monoterpene hydrocarbons. The color of the oil ranges from yellowish red to a dark, muddy brown.
Other names for oregano include: tawabul (Arabic), Niú zhì (Mandarin), Origan (French), Oregano (German), ajavaayan kee pattee (Hindi), origano (Italian), Oregano (Japanese), orégano (Portuguese), oregano (Russian) and orégano (Spanish). Mexican oregano is also known as Mexican marjoram, Mexican wild sage, oregano Cimmaron, redbrush lippia, scented lippia and scented matgrass.
The word oregano is derived from the Greek "origanon", which comes from combination of the word "oros" meaning "mountain" and "ganos" which means "brightness" or "joy". The Greeks believed that the Goddess Aphrodite created oregano, as she wanted it to represent a symbol of joy growing in her garden. Ancient Greeks were certain that when cows grazed on this herb they produced tastier meat. When oregano grew on graves, the Greeks would take it as a sign from the dead that they were happy in the afterlife.
The Romans who conquered Greece assimilated much of the Greek culture into their own. Not only did they take the stories of Greek Gods and Goddesses, but they also took some Greek foods. They quickly came to enjoy oregano's flavor, and coupled with its ease of cultivation, it quickly spread through their vast empire from Europe and into North Africa. It was used to flavor fish, meats and even added to several varieties of wine. Fish was more common than meats, which were considered a food of the rich. Vegetables seasoned with various herbs, oregano included, were much more readily available and enjoyed.
Oregano made its way east into China via the fabled Silk Road, where it gained popularity in Chinese medicine and was used as a medicinal herb to relieve diarrhea, fever, jaundice, itchy skin and vomiting. The fresh leaves were brewed in teas that were used to strengthen the immune system or treat infections, as it was thought by the Chinese to be a very powerful antibiotic. In a case of fungus growth, oil of oregano could be applied topically to the afflicted area to provide relief and encourage healing.
Witches of all cultures throughout time have used oregano in fortune and love spells. During the middle ages, people carried it around to ward off bad spirits, a rudimentary form of magic itself.
The early European settlers brought it with them to America, although it was rarely used. It was barely referenced in early American cookbooks and did not become popular here until after World War II, when returning GIs from Europe brought with them a craving for pizza topped with oregano. Oregano's distinct flavor became something Americans could appreciate. Soon pizza's popularity in the United States exploded because it was both a fast and especially delicious food.
There are not a huge number of uses for oregano that are not culinary, but a somewhat popular use is furniture polish, weirdly enough. The leaves give a nice shine and leave a pleasant scent on the wood of tables and chairs. It can also be used as a household disinfectant. There are instances of diluting oil of oregano with water in a spray bottle to produce a natural alternative to the chemical laden cleaners that gleam a mildly florescent yellow green from the shelves of the local grocery store. Also not unheard of is adding oil of oregano to your laundry soap to take advantage of the same disinfectant qualities that would be found in a homemade cleaner. Some people also claim that oil of oregano has stain removal qualities.
The oregano plant will grow up to two feet tall with a spread of 12"-18". It is a perennial, but in colder climates it is considered an annual as it often does not survive colder winters. It grows well in most climates in full sun, but in zone 7 and farther south, it will do better with a little bit of afternoon shade. The plants have relatively small leaves, approximately 1" long, and little white, pink, or purple flowers that may also be eaten. Regular trimming causes the plant to be bushier, while also preventing legginess.
Our Organic Mediterranean Oregano is grown in Turkey.
There are three primary species of oregano, the most important is the Origanum vulgare species, which is native to western and southwestern Eurasia and the Mediterranean region. Origanum onites is indigenous to Greece and Asia Minor. Origanum heracleoticum originated in Italy and the Balkan Peninsula.
There are other subspecies of the herb, with some of these possessing a flavor this is a cross between oregano and marjoram. Some of the lesser known varieties include Origanum glandulosum (from Tunisia and Algeria) and Origanum gracile (central Asia, Iran, India and Afghanistan).
When discussing the various varieties, we would be remiss if we didn't specifically talk about Greek oregano. Some people have heard over the years that oregano from Greece is the finest in the world. We don't exactly share that opinion, as in any given year, any of the various cultivars can be outstanding. In addition, finding a reputable supplier of true Greece grown oregano is basically impossible, as there is little to no commercial production on the island. What little amount of Greek oregano you may find marketed is most often an adulterated version, and is not going to be 100% pure Greek grown and will command a stiff price.
Oregano plays a starring role in Egyptian, Greek, Italian, Lebanese, Mediterranean, Palestinian, Philippine, Portuguese, Spanish, Syrian and Turkish cuisines.
In Greek cooking, oregano is found in meat dishes (especially lamb), baked vegetables, sauces and of course on Greek salads. In Mediterranean and Italian cooking, it is often combined with basil, and the two of them make for an unbeatable combination in pasta, on roasted vegetables and most definitely with pizza. In Spanish cuisine, you will frequently find oregano in vinegar marinades, meat casseroles, pickled vegetables and sometimes in salads.
The Greeks have this lovely bread called a Kalamata Olive Bread with Oregano. It is exactly as the name implies, a bread featuring this tasty herb and Kalamata olives. Some recipes recommend the use of chopped onion in the dough as well. This bread can be served by itself with a slice of butter, or alongside a meal of pork chops or a hearty Greek salad.
In Turkish cooking, it is primarily used to flavor meat, most notably lamb and mutton. Spicy Turkish lamb is a dish that can be found if one is browsing for "Turkish oregano recipes" online.
In the winter time, this herb is a great addition to Irish lamb stew. Put this sort of recipe in the slow cooker before work and when you get home you will find an aromatic, warm welcome waiting for you at the door. Add oregano just before serving to ensure maximum flavor distribution.
Use Mediterranean Oregano with cream sauces, vinegars, salad dressings, soups, and herb butters. It is also outstanding in egg and cheese dishes (such as omelets, frittatas, and quiches). Combine olive oil with oregano and brush on foods for the grill. It is also commonly mixed with other herbs and spices to create a flavorful salt-free seasoning.
Mediterranean Oregano works well in combination with basil, garlic, thyme, and parsley.
It may be used in salads, chicken based dishes, seafood dishes, or in wine. It's also good with onions, pork, potatoes, poultry, spinach, squash, sweet peppers, tomatoes, veal, and venison.
Cooks are pretty set in stone in their opinions on what's better - fresh or dried herbs. We believe that some herbs are better fresh, while others are better dried. Herbs that are best fresh include cilantro, curry leaves, dill weed, lemon grass and tarragon.
Other herbs, in our opinion, have more flavor when used dried. For these herbs, the drying process causes the structures of the plant tissue to collapse, which increases the amount of the herb's essential oil. The result is that the flavor of these herbs is more easily absorbed in foods. Oregano is one such herb. Marjoram, rosemary and thyme are some other herbs that are better dried.
Mediterranean Oregano tends to be quite robust with a bit of sweetness and some lemony notes. This is a familiar taste and smell, as it is found frequently in Italian dishes and especially swirling around in the air of old style pizza shops.
If any recipe calls for Greek, Italian or Spanish oregano, this Organic Mediterranean Oregano can be substituted. If your recipe calls for Mexican oregano, this will provide a very different flavor profile.
A suitable substitution for Mediterranean Oregano is marjoram, basil or thyme. If substituting with marjoram use a bit more, basil do an even swap and thyme use a bit less.
** This product is certified kosher.
Serving Size1 tsp
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value*