Oregano is a wonderful herb, with many uses – culinary, medicinal, ornamental, and aesthetic. Not to mention it’s also a good pollinator plant, plus the javelina and rabbits leave it alone.
From the arid mountains of the eastern Mediterranean, including present day Greece and Turkey, oregano grows well here in the Southwest. It forms a lovely low mounding landscape plant, and needs just a little added water. In my yard, it is planted outside the fence, and the javelina, rabbits, squirrels, and other critters all leave it alone. Not all critters, butterflies and bees adore the blooms.
Like many herbs, the best time to harvest oregano is just before it blooms. Many herbs increase their production of essential oils as they go into bloom since it is a time when they really need to protect themselves from pests. When you first start growing oregano, harvest may mean pinching a few stalks back with your fingers. Once your patch gets larger, trim it with strong kitchen scissors to about two inches high, so it forms a low mat of leaves. Don’t worry, it will get tall again.
Dry Your Oregano
I created a YouTube video about havesting and drying oregano and other herbs. Be sure to sign up for the newsletter and I will let you know when it goes up. Or better yet – subscribe to our Youtube channel!
Uses of Oregano
Besides its culinary uses, oregano is used medicinally as an antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and antiparasitic.
The oil of oregano is reported to destroy bacteria and fungi that contribute to skin infections and digestive problems. Oil of oregano is also said to strengthen the immune system, increase joint and muscle flexibility, and improve respiratory health. The medicinal properties of oregano appear to be from high concentrations of thymol and carvacrol. Caution is needed since carvacrol appears to reduce the body’s ability to absorb iron. Moderation is, as always, important.
Science Nerd Shares.
When you see chemical names that end in -ol, like thymol and carvarcol, this indicates that the chemical has an alcohol component to it.
Medicinallt speaking, often herbs containing -ol compounds are made into tinctures by soaking them in alcohol.
Oregano can be used as a dye. With an iron mordant it gave me a deep grey that was almost black on wool. With alum mordant it was a paler grey on wool. In both cases, it came out much paler on cotton.
If you keep chickens, like Savorist Monica King does, then you can place cut oregano in the nesting boxes. It is said to help deter feather lice.
Thanks for Reading!
The Savor Team
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