Oregano is a herb which is used extensively in Italian and Mediterranean food. Although fresh oregano has an appealing taste, it also works very well when dried. If you have an excess of fresh oregano, you can dry it by tying the stems together and hanging it in a warm, dry, well-ventilated place. Oregano dried at its peak is likely to have more flavour than supermarket varieties, which can vary in age.
How to Select
• Even through dried herbs and spices like oregano are widely available in supermarkets, you may want to explore the local spice stores in your area. Oftentimes, these stores feature an expansive selection of dried herbs and spices that are of superior quality and freshness compared to those offered in regular markets.
• Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried oregano, try to buy that which has been organically grown since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated.
• Choose a reliable brand or store to make sure it has not been contaminated with other less expensive leaves.
• Dried oregano has an excellent flavour and aroma, and works very well with cilantro and cumin.
• Garlic, onion, thyme, basil, parsley and olive oil are other common seasoning partners for dried oregano.
• Toast dried oregano leaves lightly in a pan and add them to your favourite chili or taco recipe.
• Drizzle olive oil over a hunk of feta cheese that's been topped with oregano leaves and serve with olives.
• Oregano can become overpowering and bitter if too much is used on foods with a mild flavour. So, add little by little.
• Oregano goes well in just about any tomato dish. It also compliments vegetables with dominant flavours such as chilli, spaghetti sauce, pizza, zucchini, broccoli and cauliflower.
• When using dried oregano, crush it in the palm of your hand before adding to the food. This helps release the essential oils and revive flavour.
How to Store
• As with all dried herbs, dried oregano should be kept in a cool, dark place in a tightly-sealed container and used within six months.
• It won't spoil if kept longer, but it will deteriorate greatly with time.
• Oregano is usually thought of as a culinary herb, but it has been used medicinally for thousands of years.
• Try a tea made with oregano for indigestion, bloating, flatulence, coughs, urinary problems, bronchial problems, headaches, swollen glands, and to promote menstruation.
• It has also been used in the past to relieve fevers, diarrhoea, vomiting and jaundice.
• Externally, oregano leaves can be pounded into a paste and used to relieve painful conditions like rheumatism, swelling, itching, aching muscles and sores.
• For tired joints and muscles, put a handful of oregano leaves in a coffee filter, mesh bag, or cheesecloth bag and run steaming bath water over it. Allow it to steep in the tub with you as you relax in the warm, fragrant water.