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Oregano (Origanum vulgare), also known as pot marjoram, is a species of Origanum. It is native to Europe, the Mediterranean region and southern and central Asia. It is a perennial herb. It can grow to 20–80 cm tall. Its leaves are opposite each other. They are 1–4 cm long. The flowers are purple. They can grow 3–4 mm long. The name of the plant comes from the Greek origanon [ὀρίγανον]: oros [ὄρος] “mountain” and the verb ganousthai [γανοῦσθαι] “delight in”.
Growing oregano for cooking[change | change source]
The subspecies of oregano Origanum vulgare hirtum is an important herb. It is used for cooking, especially in Turkish cuisine and Italian cuisines. The leaves are used for cooking.
Oregano is often used for tomato sauces, fried vegetables and grilled meat. Together with basil, it adds much to the special character of many Italian dishes.
Oregano is an ingredient needed for Turkish cuisine. It adds flavour to the Turkish choban salad. It can be used separately. It can also be added to the lemon-olive oil sauce that goes with almost every fish or meat barbecues and some casseroles.
Oregano has an aromatic, warm and slightly bitter taste. The taste varies in intensity; good quality is so strong that it almost numbs the tongue, but the cultivars adapted to colder climates have often unsatisfactory flavour. The influence of climate, season and soil on the composition of the essential oil is bigger than the difference between the various species.
The related species Origanum onites (Turkey, Asia Minor) and O. heracleoticum (Italy, Balkan peninsula, West Asia) have similar flavours. A closely related plant is marjoram from Asia Minor. That plant has a completely different taste. This is because phenolic compounds are missing in its essential oil. Some breeds show a flavour intermediate between oregano and marjoram. The Oregano plant is also commonly found in the mediterranean region, and the black sea.