Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Oregano (Origanum vulgare)

Oregano, also known as Pot Marjoram is a species of Origanum, native to Europe, the Mediterranean region and southern and central Asia. It is a perennial herb, growing to 20-80 cm tall, with opposite leaves 1-4 cm long. The flowers are purple, 3-4 mm long, produced in erect spikes. It is an important culinary herb. It is particularly widely used in Greek and in South Italy cuisine. It is the leaves that are used in cooking, and the dried herb is often more flavorful than the fresh. It has an aromatic, warm and slightly bitter taste.

How to grow
Oregano need well-drained, neutral to alkaline soil (pH 6-8), Full sun, and water sparingly. In cold climates, grow in a pot and bring indoors in winter. USDA Hardiness zone 5-9. It is easy to grow from seed. Sow the seed on the soil and not to cover the seed. Keep the soil moist and temperature needed is 22 to 27 degree Celsius. Germination time is 7 to 14 days. Sprigs can be cut once the plant has reached 6 inches in height.

Cooking info
Oregano is commonly used in pizza and tomato sauce for its hot peppery flavor. It is also used in egg and cheese dishes as well as breads.

Oregano is high in antioxidant activity, due to a high content of phenolic acids and flavonoids. Additionally, oregano has demonstrated antimicrobial activity against food-borne pathogens such as Listeria monocytogenes. Both of these characteristics may be useful in both health and food preservation. The leaves and flowers are strongly antiseptic and the oil extract taken by mouth is treatment for cold and mild fevers.

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