Oregano

(Question)

I bought this oregano plant 4 years ago and was wondering if it is in fact an oregano plant. I tried drying it last year and again this year and it has no oregano smell or taste. It just smells like a weed. Last year I harvested when it was starting to flower so tried earlier this year and the result was the same. I want oregano that smells/tastes like the dried oregano you buy in the store. What variety should I look for? Thank you!

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(Answer)

Hi there,

There are many many different species (44), subspecies and varieties of oregano out there.  The one you should look for is Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare var. hirtum). It is considered to be a true oregano with a strong flavour. This variety of oregano has a high concentration of the chemical Carvatol which gives the plant the strong flavour and fragrance. It also is reported to have antifungal and antibacterial properties. That’s a nice bonus to add to the flavour!

It sounds as if you are harvesting at the peek time, just before the flowers bloom so you should be getting a strong flavour if you have the right plant. After the plant flowers the plant stops growing and the leaves are not as flavourful. For drying, stems can be cut and hung in a dark, cool and dry place with ventilation.  After the leaves have dried they should be stored in an air tight container, also in a cool, dark place. This will help to keep the strength of the herb from dissipating.

Happy cooking!