The robust flavor and smell of fresh cut herbs is something we never forget. Be it cut from our own garden or offered by a friend from theirs’s. Packaged, store bought can rarely compare in color, aroma or flavor and once you have tried garden grown it is hard to use the store bought afterwards.
I have been growing most of my own herbs in our garden for many years. They are the easiest part of gardening as they require a lot less care than a lot of the vegetables we grow. One of the nice things is that most herbs grow as well in pots as in the ground and it’s nice to be able to move them around, use them for decoration on the patio or bring indoors.
Why should we grow Oregano? While it’s usually thought of as a spice to enhance the flavor of food, it is much more. It has many health benefits. Native to southwest Eurasia and the Mediterranean area, oregano has been a valuable part of both culinary and alternative medicine treatments for thousands of years. There are a number of potent active ingredients in oregano that have been greatly studied. It is said to boost immunity, detoxify the body, improve heart health, increase energy, improve bone health, aid in respiratory health and a lot more.
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I have found Oregano oil to work well as an expectorant, which loosens up or helps eliminate the buildup of mucus and phlegm. It is also very soothing for inflamed lungs and throat, which may often stimulate coughing fits.
Using oregano essential oil is a fantastic way to receive many benefits and I would not be without mine. The benefits can be attributed to its antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-parasitic, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and digestive properties.
You can also purchase Oregano oil capsules for oral consumption. I researched a few brand and this is the one I use.
Growing Oregano: Most of our local nursery’s will have oregano plants already started and generally very reasonable in price. The plants will grow 1 to 2 feet tall and spread about 18 inches so be sure to space them accordingly. However, a single plant will usually give us all we need to harvest, dry and use throughout the season.
NOTE: Greek oregano for cooking. Common oregano for decoration. Here is a recipe for grilled potato salad using Oregano..
Oregano can easily be started from seeds as well or you can also use cuttings from an established plant. Be it a started plant, cutting or seeds if you plant outdoors be sure its after the last spring frost. Oregano loves the sun and well-drained soil.
Let the Oregano plants grow to about 4 or 6 inches tall and then prune back just a little to encourage a more dense, bushy plant. This will help to avoid it getting to leggy. Oregano self seeds so they generally come back every year. Be sure and thin out the older (3 years or more) plants in early spring. Oregano is found most commonly used to flavor everything from soups, sauces, and curries to meat dishes, pizza, pasta, vegetables, and even salads.
Drying Oregano: I dry outside on the patio most of the time and it takes from a few days to a week or more depending on the weather and how much humidity is in the air. If we are having to much rain then I will dry indoors. A lot of times the house is much dryer than outdoors depending on the weather.
You can tell when its done as it will crackle into pieces between your fingers. Once that is done it’s time to store it.
I cut it long enough that I can tie a bundle at one end and hang to dry. We also pick fresh leaves to use throughout the growing season and sometimes will pick just the leaves to dry. In that case I use a herb drying rack. Or if your just drying a little you can place the leaves on a plate and set aside in a cool, dry place until dry.
It’s best to store your dried herbs in airtight containers in a cool dark place. Canning jars or jam jars work very well and they come in various sizes from 4 oz and up and are cost effective as we can use them over and over and for a great variety of things. You can even buy amber colored canning jars but they seem to be a bit spendy. It’s a good idea to label and date the jars. If you notice the slightest sign of mold — toss them because it will only spread. This should not be a problem if we dry them thoroughly.
I hope this has been helpful in learning more about Oregano. Would love to hear how you use Oregano in cooking or the oil.
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Linda Carlson – Certified Nutrition & Wellness Counselor (retired) with 25+ years background.
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