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Description - Research and Analysis
Oregano is a very close relative of marjoram, so much so there is some confusion in the cross-pollination of their names. This is the pungently aromatic herb of southern Italy, the one that is used, mainly in its dried form, to flavor pizzas and tomato sauces. Indeed, Greek cooks are convinced that oregano - origani - is best used dried.
The plant originates from the Mediterranean region, where its pungency is in direct proportion with its quota of sun. It is a tradditional ingredient of Mexican chili powder, and has long been used as a flavoring for chili sauces and chili beans.
This hardy annual grows to a height of about 8 inches, with woody stems and dark green leaves around ¾ inch long. The flowers, borne on long spikes, are small and white in color.
The plant demands a well-drained soil in full sun, though a poor, stony soil will be adequate. Plant seed in warm soil in late spring, or in mid-spring, in pots or seed trays under glass. Oregano does especially well in indoor mini-propagators placed on the windowsill.
How to Use
The fresh leaves, which are sold in bundles in Italian and Greek markets, are useful additions to salads, soups, sauces, pâtés, and poultry dishes. Dried oregano is especially good with tomatoes, beans, eggplant, zucchini, and rice, and in dishes such as pilaf and risotto.
The leaves and flowers may be used in much the same way as sweet marjoram but are far less aromatic. The essential oil is hotter and spicy but it is very antiseptic and can be used to advantage in soaps and medicated bath oils.
Medicinally, wild marjoram has been used to relieve a variety of health problems such as coughs and chest infections as well as colic and indigestion.
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Stir 1/4 of a teaspoon into a glass of water and consume 3 times daily, with meals.
Not recommended if you are pregnant or lactating.
Do not use if you are allergic to any member of the labiatae family, such as thyme, basil or marjoram.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Products are intended to support general well being and are not intended to treat, diagnose, mitigate, prevent, or cure any condition or disease.