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Different Types of Oregano: A Guide to Varieties and Uses 

Different Types of Oregano

Oregano is a staple spice in many kitchens around the world, and for good reason. Not only does it add flavor to a variety of dishes, but it also has numerous health benefits. In this article, the different types of oregano will be explored, including Cuban, Greek, Italian, Mexican Bush, and Ornamental Oregano, as well as the reasons why oregano is a great spice to cook with.

In addition to being a delicious spice, oregano also has medicinal properties. Oregano oil, in particular, has been shown to have antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.

You will also learn where to buy oregano oil and what it can be used for. Whether you are a seasoned cook or just starting out, this article will provide valuable information about the different types of oregano and why it should be a staple in every kitchen.

What are the different types of oregano?

Common Oregano

The most common type of oregano is the Origanum vulgare, also known as common oregano. It grows well in zones 5 to 10 and in a sunny spot with well-draining soil.

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The Greek oregano, also known as true oregano, is the most well-known variety of common oregano. It has a mild and slightly spicy taste that makes it perfect for tomato sauces and pizzas. Italian oregano is also called true oregano, but it has a milder flavor compared to Greek oregano.

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Other types of common oregano include:

  • Golden oregano: This variety of oregano has edible foliage that is a beautiful shade of gold. It has a milder flavor compared to Greek oregano and is perfect for use in salads and dressings.
  • Marjoram: This oregano variety has a taste similar to Greek oregano, but it is less mild and less spicy. It is perfect for use in soups, stews, and sauces.
  • Syrian oregano: This oregano variety is mostly used in a Middle Eastern spice mixture called za’atar, which also contains sesame seeds and ground sumac. It has a slightly bitter taste and is perfect for use in meat dishes.

Overall, there are various types of oregano plants that are edible and have different flavors.

Cuban Oregano

Cuban oregano, also known as Spanish thyme or Puerto Rican oregano, is a member of the mint family. It has thick, fuzzy leaves with saw-toothed edges and can grow up to 18 inches tall. The flowers of Cuban oregano can be pink, lavender, or white.

It is recommended to use lower quantities of this herb than other types of oregano due to its strong flavor. Cuban oregano is delicious when used to flavor pizzas and other Mediterranean dishes. It should not be left in full sun as it may burn.

Greek Oregano

Greek oregano is a popular herb used in Mediterranean cuisine and is native to Turkey. It has a pungent flavor that is perfect for dozens of dishes.

This type of oregano has white flowers and fuzzy leaves, and it doesn’t grow as aggressively as the standard, common oregano. It does best in zones 5-11 and is relatively easy to grow.

Greek oregano can be found in many households without even realizing it, as it is one of the most common types of oregano. It is a useful herb that is perfect for spicing up your favorite dishes.

Italian Oregano is a popular herb that is used in various Italian dishes. It is a hybrid of sweet marjoram and common oregano and has a flavor that resembles both.

This herb does very well in zones six through nine and has off-white flower spikes and delicate, light-green leaves. Italian oregano is commonly used in dishes such as fried vegetables, tomato sauces, and grilled meats.

In fact, along with basil, nearly all Italian dishes have Italian oregano in them, giving these dishes a distinct taste.

Mexican Bush Oregano

Mexican Bush oregano, also known as Mexican sage or rosemary mint, is native to Mexico and can grow in hot, dry areas such as Texas. It is a member of the mint family and has beautiful purple flowers that smell terrific.

Mexican Bush oregano grows differently in different areas of the country, but it does best in growing zones 7b through 8a, as well as zone 11. It is a hardy plant that can survive in harsh conditions.

What is Mexican Oregano?

Mexican oregano, scientifically known as Lippia graveolens, is a member of the verbena family and is not closely related to other oregano types. This herb is a popular addition to herb gardens and is known for its strong flavor and aroma, especially when crushed.

It is a tender perennial plant that grows well in warm climates and is hardy in zones 9b through 11. In zones 8b to 9a, it dies out in winter but grows back in spring. Its ornamental flowers make a beautiful addition to any herb garden.

Mexican oregano is sometimes referred to as Mexican mint due to its mint-like appearance.

Ornamental Oregano

Ornamental oregano is a beautiful addition to any herb garden or outdoor space. These plants are used for their ornamental uses only and not for cooking.

They are drought-tolerant and require well-drained soil. Ornamental oregano is an evergreen plant that is low maintenance and easy to propagate. They are perfect for cooler climates and can be grown in zones 5 to 10.

Some popular varieties of ornamental oregano include Compactum oregano, which is perfect for use as groundcovers, and Kent Beauty, which has beautiful, large bracts that overlap and look similar to crepe paper designs.

Pilgrim oregano and Amethyst Falls oregano are also great options with their rosy-pink flowers and purple bracts, respectively. These plants produce pink, purple, or white flowers and have oval leaves.

Reasons to Cook with Oregano

Oregano is a versatile herb that can add a spicy and strong flavor to many dishes. It is commonly used in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine, as well as in tomato-based dishes, soups, casseroles, and spice mixtures.

In addition to its culinary uses, oregano offers various health benefits. Here are some reasons why you should consider cooking with oregano:

It Can Help You Stay Healthier

Oregano has been shown to be effective against 23 different types of bacteria, making it a powerful antibacterial agent.

Regular consumption of oregano can help eliminate harmful bacteria from the body, reducing the risk of infections. Its antibacterial properties can also help preserve food and extend its shelf life.

It Can Help Reduce Inflammation

Oregano contains antioxidants and other compounds that can help reduce inflammation in the body. This makes it a useful herb for people with diabetes, heart conditions, and certain autoimmune conditions.

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Its anti-inflammatory properties can also help alleviate symptoms of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

It Is Very High in Vitamins

Oregano is a rich source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, B6, C, E, and K, as well as iron, fiber, magnesium, folate, potassium, and calcium. Regular consumption of oregano can help improve overall health and prevent nutrient deficiencies.

In summary, oregano is a flavorful and healthy herb that can be a valuable addition to any kitchen. Its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as its high nutrient content, make it a versatile and beneficial ingredient in many dishes.

What is Oregano Oil Good For?

You Can Also Use it Topically

Oregano oil is a versatile essential oil that can be used topically to relieve a variety of ailments. It is particularly useful for treating swollen lymph nodes, ear infections, and muscle pain.

Additionally, oregano oil can help with viral and fungal infections such as warts and nail fungus. You can even find toothpaste containing oregano oil, which can help with mouth sores or toothaches.

Hair Problems, Anyone?

Oregano oil is also beneficial for hair health. It can help get rid of dandruff, soothe irritated scalps, stimulate hair growth, and make hair softer and shinier.

To use oregano oil, simply apply it directly to your scalp before washing your hair. If you prefer, you can also take it in capsule form.

Oregano oil is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it a popular essential oil for health and wellness. Whether used topically or ingested, oregano oil can help with a variety of ailments, from colds and flu to digestive problems and upper respiratory ailments.

Where to Buy Oregano Oil?

Oregano essential oil can be purchased in most health food stores and online. Additionally, specialty grocery and spice stores may carry oregano oil.

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