Oregano

By Katrin Koelle
Updated on 02. Jul. 2020

Everything you need to know about this healthful Italian herb.

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Oregano...

  • ...contains a ton of healthy essential oils. As with many herbs, essential oils are responsible for the aroma, taste and healing properties of oregano. Depending on the variety, these small leaves can contain up to 4 percent of these oils.
  • ...can help soothe the stomach. Oregano’s abundant essential oils, tannins and bitter substances make it an effective remedy for stomach issues like cramps and flatulence.
  • ...can help alleviate coughing. Naturopaths have long used oregano to help treat coughs and bronchitis.
  • ...has an antiseptic effect. Oregano can help fight bacteria, viruses and inhibit inflammation. Gargling with an oregano-infused tea can help alleviate sore throats, inflammation of the mouth and even freshen breath.
  • ...improves digestion. The essential oils and secondary plant substances in oregano have been proven to stimulate production of digestive juices in the stomach, bile and liver. Oregano can also help soothe diarrhea.
  • ...shouldn't be consumed in excess. As healthy and effective as oregano is, consuming too much of this herb, especially in tea form, can lead to headaches. You should drink a maximum of 3 cups a day and never consume more than 1 teaspoon of oregano per cup.

What You Should Know About Oregano

What parsley is for us, oregano is for Italians: an staple herb utilized in cooking almost daily. In the U.S. we mainy utilize dried oregano, however the fresh variety is packed with flavor and more health benefits. 

It is no coincidence that quite a few people confuse oregano with marjoram: both herbs are closely related in appearance and flavor. 

Origins

Wild oregano has been growing throughout Europe, Asia, North Africa, the USA and Iran for thousands of years. 

Season

The actual season for free-range oregano begins in early summer, but thanks to greenhouse cultivation, fresh oregano is now available any time of year.

Flavor

The taste of fresh oregano is reminiscent of a mixture of thyme and marjoram, but it tastes a bit more bitter and tart and peppery. Unlike most herbs, oregano has a more intense flavor when its dried than when its fresh. 

Our Favorite Recipes With Oregano 

Find all our recipes with oregano here.

How Healthy is Oregano?

Oregano owes its intensely spicy taste to its abundant supply of essential oils, namely thymol and carvacrol, and its strong portion of bitter and tanning agents. These substances combine to produce a relieving effect on coughs and other respiratory illnesses. In naturopathy, oregano is also considered to be antispasmodic and to help improve digestive, as well as stimulate the appetite.

OREGANO NUTRITIONAL INFO (100 g, DRIED)  
Calories 366
Protein 11 g
Grease 10.3 g
Carbohydrates 49.5 g
Fiber 15 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips

Purchasing

If you're shopping for fresh oregano, look out for fresh leaves that dont look limp. If you're buying dried oregano, it's best to go with a brand name  product, and even better an organic one. Cheaper brands and varieties of dried oregano can often contain filler herbs and spices that dilute the flavor and can even be harmful to the body.

Preparation

Fresh oregano loses much of its aroma if its washed too thoroughly, so just rinse briefly, shake weland remove the leaves. Depending on size and recipe, you can either use the leaves straight, or cut them into smaller pieces.

When it comes to dried oregano, use this trick to gain the maximum taste oregano: simply soak it in some water, broth or wine for half an hour before using.

What To Make With Oregano

Oregano is a must in classic Italian dishes such as tomato sauces, pasta on pizzaBut the herb can do so much more, and is used in Italy to flavor stews, roast pork, mussels, fish, soups, lasagna, salads and even scapi.

When it comes to dried oregano, make sure to cook for a long time to ensure maximum flavor. Fresh oregano, on the other hand, loses its aroma quickly during the cooking process and should only be added to a warm dish right before serving.

Oregano is generally compatible with other Mediterranean herbs such as thyme, rosemary and laurel. However it's important to remember that oregano's flavor doesn't mix well with its cousin, marjoram.

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