Oregano is also known as wild marjoram, since the two are related, and it grows widely across Europe. Unlike basil, oregano can be more flavourful when dried rather than fresh. This probably helped its popularity as a must-have herb in pizza sauce and roasted dishes.
Oregano contains several specific essential oils that have anti-bacterial and anti-parasitic properties. Oregano extract has been shown to be more effective against the parasitic microorganism Giardia than a prescription drug! Adding oregano to your dishes helps to protect you against some common bacteria, such as salmonella or listeria, and when it’s added to sauces, it extends their shelf-life.
Just like basil, oregano also packs a vast number of antioxidants and a good amount of vitamin K. The antioxidants protect your tissues from damage and help maintain healthy blood vessels, while vitamin K ensures healthy blood function and helps to maintain bone health.
Storing and preserving herbs
When choosing fresh herbs, always pick those that have supple green leaves, without any brown or discoloured spots. It’s best to then wrap them in a slightly damp cloth and keep in the fridge. That way, they will have enough but not too much water, and will be protected from drying out.
If you buy or grow larger quantities, freezing will preserve their nutritional value. Chop them and pack into ice cube trays, covering each portion with vegetable stock. Or use a food processor to coarsely chop the leaves, add a drizzle of virgin olive oil to lightly coat them, divide into ice cube trays and freeze. You can then use these frozen portions for anything from soups, stews, to pasta sauce and baked dishes.
Dried herbs are best kept in tightly sealed glass containers out of direct sunlight. Even though they keep for a long time, they only keep their full flavour for about six months.