The Oregano in the herb garden is enjoying the dry weather and doing extremely well. This has inspired me to learn more about it’s uses.

How and where to Grow: Oregano is a hardy perennial herb often used in Italian and Mexican dishes. It clearly likes the sun and dry, hot weather and requires less water than other herbs. Due to the shallow roots, however, be sure to give it consistent watering in the hot, dry summer months. Don’t water too much in Winter though as they are shallow rooted, and the plant may rot.

Care and Maintenance: Oregano is often used as a ground cover and you can pinch spent flowers and trim the plant to prevent it bolting from seed and to encourage denser growth. We have found it most beneficial to keep this plant in a pot at Booyong as it spread considerably in the herb garden.

Companion Planting: Bees love the nectar of oregano flowers and it’s a good companion plant which is beneficial to most plants due to its pests repelling qualities.

Propagation: Oregano can be grown from either seed (in Spring) or propagated by divisions or cuttings from an established plant (September – December). If you are propagating from cuttings do so after the last frost.
Pest and Diseases: Oregano has few issues with pests and diseases. The two most common pests of this plant are aphids and two-spotted spider mites.

Harvest: It is a small shrub with purple or white flowers and is best harvested mid-summer when the flavour is stronger. Oregano leaves can be tied and dried in a bunch or on a drying rack.

Uses: When cooking, oregano leaves are stronger when dried rather than fresh. Fresh leaves can be used as required and stored in the fridge wrapped in a damp towel. They can also be frozen for use during winter and stored in an airtight container when dried. Add dried leaves at the beginning of cooking and fresh herbs towards the end so you can retain the flavour.

Other ideas for enjoying Oregano are to add fresh oregano on Pizza, add it to sautéed mushrooms and onions, frittatas or quiche, make oregano pesto, add to homemade hamburger patties, bread dough or sprinkle on garlic bread.

Health Benefits: Oregano has a variety of health benefits which are said to include:
• Relaxes nerves and settles an upset stomach when taken as a tea
• Boosts immunity
• Aids in digestion
• A natural anti-inflammatory
• Pain killer good for migraines and headaches
• Extracts toxins from the body therefore neutralizing insect stings and bug bites
• Improves Heart Health
• Can be used as a treatment for typical burns (apply oil lightly to get instant pain relief and so blisters will not form)
• Detoxifies the body
• Powerful remedy for ache once applied on the skin
• Improves bone health

Recipes: Here are some other recipes to try:

Oregano Oil – Add fresh rinsed chopped or crushed oregano to a sanitized glass jar of olive oil, grape seed or almond oil with a ratio of 1:1 to infuse the oil with the essence of the herb. To avoid the growth of mould, ensure the oregano is dry. Seal with a lid and shake regularly, straining leaves after two weeks. Store in a cool, dark place.

Oregano salt – Place dried oregano and salt in a small food processor and process until finely chopped. Transfer to a small bowl or sealed glass jar – lovely served with roast potatoes.

Lemon oregano dressing
• 1 medium organic lemon washed well and dried
• 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon sugar
• 2 medium cloves garlic minced
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil
• ¼ cup fresh oregano leaves packed

Parmesan, Oregano and Pine Nut Melts – 2 cups fresh Parmesan cheese finely grated, 1 tbsp flour, 1/2 tsp dried oregano, 1 tbsp pine nuts. Preheat oven to 185 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with baking paper. In a large bowl, combine Parmesan, flour and oregano. Place a round cookie cutter on the prepared baking sheet. Carefully sprinkle a tablespoon of cheese mixture into the cutter and smooth the surface. Remove the cutter. Repeat with the remaining mixture, leaving a 1-inch gap between each melt. Sprinkle with pine nuts and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes or until light golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool and store in a cool dark place.

Oregano chips
• 2.5kg/5½lb potatoes
• 80ml/5tbsp olive oil
• 80ml/5tbsp water
• handful fresh oregano (or ½ tsp dried oregano)
• 1 lemon, juiced.
Thins slice, coat and roast in oven at 200 degrees until golden brown.