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home > food & wine dictionary > oregano

Food and Wine Dictionary

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 oregano    [oh-REHG-uh-noh]

Greek for "joy of the mountain," oregano was almost unheard of in the United States until soldiers came back fromItalian World War II assignments raving about it. This herb, sometimes calledwild marjoram , belongs to the mint family and is related to bothmarjoram and THYME. Oregano issimilar to marjoram but is not as sweet and has a stronger, more pungent flavorand aroma. Because of its pungency, it requires a bit more caution in its use.Mediterranean oregano is milder than the Mexican variety, which is generally usedin highly spiced dishes. Fresh Mediterranean or European oregano is sometimesavailable in gourmet produce sections of supermarkets and in Italian or Greekmarkets. Choose bright-green, fresh-looking bunches with no sign of wilting oryellowing. Refrigerate in a plastic bag for up to 3 days. Dried Mediterraneanoregano is readily available in any supermarket in both crumbled and powderedforms. The stronger-flavored Mexican oregano can generally be found in its driedform in Latin markets. As with all dried herbs, oregano should be stored in acool, dark place for no more than 6 months. Oregano goes extremely well withtomato-based dishes and is a familiar pizza herb. See  also HERBS; HERB AND SPICE CHART; A FIELD GUIDE TO HERBS

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Material adapted from the The New Food Lover's Companion

© Copyright Barron's Educational Services, Inc. 1995 based on
THE FOOD LOVER'S COMPANION, 2nd edition, by Sharon Tyler Herbst.

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