Aromatic plants

Oregano

Production program

The ideal soil for growing the oregano plant must be well drained, gravelly or sandy, not too fertile and not very rich in organic matter, but well exposed to the sun. Due to these characteristics, it is well suited to adorn the borders of flower beds or stony spaces that are not very suitable for the most common vegetable plants. If you want to grow it in pots or planters, it will be advisable to use a mixture that contains no more than 20% of peat or organic substance, 50% of sand and 30% of soil. Before planting, the soil can be sprinkled with a modest amount of granular chemical fertilizer. Do not use organic fertilizer. How many plants to grow? In general, thinking about food use, eight or ten seedlings, which occupy approximately one square meter of land, they are more than enough to guarantee us a fragrant supply of spice throughout the year. Let us remember, however, that in the regions of northern Italy it is difficult for oregano to produce buds as fragrant as those of plants grown in the southern sun.

Cultivation and harvesting of oregano


It is not always easy to find the seeds of the oregano plant. It often happens that marjoram seeds are marketed as oregano. Therefore, it is much more practical to buy some seedlings in a garden center or nursery and then multiply them by rhizome cuttings in February. To do this, flare the seedlings and cut the rhizomes (the thick reddish roots) into pieces that are five to ten centimeters long. Replant them in a pot with a soil mixture that has the characteristics we have already seen in the previous paragraph. The pots should be kept sheltered at least until April, in a cold bed or in a little heated greenhouse. In April, or in any case, in the colder regions, when the risk of frost is totally averted, repot the rhizomes three at a time in pots of twenty centimeters in diameter and arrange them in the sunniest corner of the garden. In July, cut off the inflorescences before full bloom. Choose a warm and dry day for harvesting the best time is in the morning, after the dew has evaporated, but before the sun has dried the leaves.

Collection and conservation


Oregano is preserved by drying: the procedure is simple. First, carefully examine each clump, eliminating yellowed or worn leaves. Then tie a few twigs together, so as to make small bunches. dip them for a few seconds in boiling water, drain them and put them to dry on tea towels or kitchen paper; blanching is not essential, but serves to clean the herbs and better preserve their color. When the bunches are dry, you can wrap the top in paper bags and hang them upside down in a dry and ventilated place. Never use plastic bags! The drying time varies, but on average 7/10 days are sufficient. Alternatively, you can dissolve the bunches and arrange the inflorescences on large trays and put everything in a well-ventilated place. A few times a day, lift the herbs with your hands to turn them over. Our oregano is ready to be stored when it is dry enough to break between your fingers. At this point crumble it by passing it between your fingertips, remove the stalks and hard stems and pour the crumbled inflorescences into ceramic or dark glass jars.

Oregano in the kitchen


Like basil and parsley, oregano is one of the most used aromatic herbs in Mediterranean cuisine. It is used as a condiment as an alternative to marjoram, another species belonging to the same genus. Contains essential oils with aromatic, antiseptic and antispasmodic properties. As for the culinary use, oregano is the irreplaceable flavoring of Neapolitan pizza, of meats called alla pizzaiola and of meat skewers prepared according to the Greek and Balkan tradition. It is also an ingredient in fresh tomato and mozzarella salads. However, sautéed or stewed vegetables, grilled fish, baked fish, green or mixed salads, tomatoes, rice salads can also be sprinkled with oregano. It can also be combined with marinades and fillings, especially for fish.

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