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OREGANO

Origanum vulgare

Family : Labiatae

Other names : Wild marjoram; Joy of the mountain; Mexican sage

Description

Oregano, also called origanum, are the flavourful dried leaves and flowering tops of any of various perennial herbs of the mint family. Among these the true origano is Origanum vulgare, called wild marjoram in northern and central Europe and is widely used to season many foods. The name is derived from the Greek oros, "mountain," and ganos, "joy." The Spanish word orégano means marjoram, and the herbs are sometimes used interchangeably and often been confused with marjoram. Native to the hills of the Mediterranean countries and western Asia, the herbs were brought to the Western Hemisphere in early times and are naturalized in parts of Mexico and the United States. .

Botany

Oregano is a bushy (of about 75 cm), spicily aromatic perennial with horizontal woody rootstock and stems. The leaves are downy grey-green, oval pointed and toothed and the pink or violet flowers with darker bracts are in clusters.

Cultivation

Oregano is a bushy (of about 75 cm), spicily aromatic perennial with horizontal woody rootstock and stems. The leaves are downy grey-green, oval pointed and toothed and the pink or violet flowers with darker bracts are in clusters.

All varieties contain essential oil of about 2%. In some, the principal component of the oil is thymol, in others carvacrol.

Aroma and flavour

Oregano has long been an essential ingredient of Mediterranean cooking. The aroma, strong and aromatic, and the taste, warm, pungent, and bitter are prominent in Italian cooking and in robust dishes of certain other cuisines, such as the Mexican chili con carne.

Culinary, medicinal and other use

In the United States the use of oregano rose sharply in the late 20th century, owing largely to the popularity of pizza. Italians call it the mushroom herb but use it with many other foods as well. The leaves are also made into tea and beer, or distilled into an oil for perfumes and cosmetics. Oregano is a tonic, digestive and expectorant used to treat coughs and sore throats, indigestion and gastric upsets. Antiseptic leaves are chewed for toothache and added to baths and poultices.

 

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