Native to the Mediterranean region and western Asia, oregano is a perennial herb related to the mint family. It is also known as wild marjoram or Spanish thyme.
Named for Greek words meaning “joy of the mountains,” oregano has long been a flavoring for Mediterranean cuisine. It was readily adopted by the Romans, who spread it throughout the world, including Europe, North Africa, and Asia.
Along with being an excellent source of vitamins E and K, manganese, iron, and calcium, fresh oregano is highly antibacterial and contains many antioxidants and phytonutrients that help infection and cell damage.
Stand fresh oregano sprigs upright in a container of water for up to 3 weeks. Alternatively, roll in a damp paper towel, seal in a plastic bag or jar, and keep in the refrigerator crisper for up to 1 week.
Often used in Greek, Italian and Mexican cuisine, oregano has a spicy, pungent flavor. It is a key ingredient in tomato sauces, marinades, and vinaigrettes. It is excellent for adding flavor to grilled meat; you can also add a sprig or two to the inner cavity of chicken or fish before cooking. Oregano is also used as a cure for indigestion and respiratory illness.
If not using a whole sprig of oregano, separate leaves from the stem and chop finely to use. 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano substitutes for 1 teaspoon dried.