Are you familiar with the flavorful Greek oregano? If not, you’re missing out.
It’s a Mediterranean herb that has a unique flavor profile from regular oregano.
With hints of lemon and balsamic vinegar, it adds complexity to dishes like grilled meats, pastas and pizza.
And while it may look very similar to its standard counterpart, there are actually some key differences between these two herbs –– so let’s dive into why Greek oregano reigns supreme in the flavour stakes.
What is Greek Oregano?
Greek oregano, also known as Origanum vulgare var.
hirtum, is a type of oregano that is native to Greece and other Mediterranean regions.
It has a more intense and aromatic flavor than regular oregano, which is why it is commonly used in Greek cuisine.
This herb belongs to the mint family and its leaves are typically used as seasoning for meat dishes, salads, sauces and marinades.
Compared to its counterpart, Greek oregano has smaller leaves with hairier texture and can grow up to 80 cm tall.
It also contains higher levels of carvacrol, a natural compound that gives the herb its strong aroma and antimicrobial properties.
Additionally, Greek oregano remains flavorful even after it dries out, making it an ideal choice for seasoning dry rubs or spice mixes.
What is Oregano?
Oregano, a perennial herb and member of the mint family, is an aromatic plant widely used in culinary settings for its flavorful leaves.
Apart from being a staple ingredient in many Mediterranean dishes, oregano also has medicinal properties that enhance its health benefits.
With its pungent and slightly bitter taste, oregano is popularly used to add depth and complexity of flavor to recipes.
Although there are various types of oregano available around the world, we will take a deeper look into Greek oregano and how it differs from other variations.
Differences Between Greek Oregano and Oregano
Greek oregano and regular oregano are a wonder to savor and enhance cooking.
While they share similar flavor profiles, the differences between them are significant.
For starters, Greek oregano tends to be more pungent and spicy compared to the subtler taste of regular oregano.
Now, let’s delve into the characteristics that set these two spices apart.
Origins and Varieties
Greek Oregano and Oregano are two varieties of herbs that differ in terms of flavor and uses.
Greek oregano, also known as Origanum vulgare hirtum, is a type of wild oregano that grows natively in Greece and other Mediterranean countries.
On the other hand, Oregano also known as Origanum vulgare ssp.
hirtum or Common oregano is widely used and cultivated around the world.
The leaves of both varieties are small and oval-shaped, but the Greek variety has a stronger and more pungent flavor than its counterpart.
Greek oregano is an essential ingredient in many Greek dishes such as souvlaki, gyros, moussaka, and tzatziki sauce.
Its strong flavor profile makes it ideal for seasoning meats, vegetables, marinades and dressings while being an excellent addition to any dish that requires a tangy taste.
In contrast, traditional oregano is commonly used in Italian cuisine to flavor tomato sauces or dishes like pizza pasta.
When it comes to appearance, Greek oregano plants tend to be shorter with their leaves being bushier compared to regular varieties which have longer stalks with sparser foliage.
As seen above, although both types of herbs belong to the same family and share some similarities, they differ primarily in their origin, taste intensity and usage in various cuisines.
It’s important to choose the right one when preparing your favorite recipes by considering these subtle differences between them.
Flavor Profile and Aroma
Greek oregano and regular oregano are different in terms of their flavor profiles and aromas.
Greek oregano features a robust, earthy flavor with notes of mint and lemon, while regular oregano has a milder, sweeter taste with hints of bitterness.
In terms of aroma, Greek oregano is more pungent and intense than regular oregano.
The two herbs are often used differently in cooking, as Greek oregano goes well with heavier dishes like lamb or beef stews, whereas regular oregano is better suited for lighter fare such as salads or sauces.
It’s important to pay attention to which type of oregano is called for in a recipe to ensure the best possible flavor outcome.
Culinary Uses and Pairings
Oregano is a widely used culinary herb that comes in two main varieties – Greek oregano (Origanum vulgare hirtum) and regular oregano (Origanum vulgare).
While both look similar and have a strong, pungent flavor, Greek oregano is considered to be more potent and flavorful than its regular counterpart.
Due to its bold taste, it is often used in Mediterranean dishes like pizza, pasta sauces, soups, and stews.
Greek oregano pairs well with other Mediterranean herbs like thyme, rosemary, marjoram and basil.
Its robustness also complements stronger flavors like garlic and chili peppers.
Regular oregano, on the other hand, is a bit milder in taste and can be paired with herbs like sage or parsley along with lighter proteins like fish or chicken.
It is also commonly used in Mexican cuisine in addition to Mediterranean dishes.
In terms of appearance, Greek oregano has smaller leaves that are hairier than those of regular oregano.
It also has a more intense aroma when dried compared to regular oregano.
When cooking with either variety of oregano, remember that dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh ones.
Therefore use just half or three-quarter teaspoonful of ground dried herb for one tablespoonful of fresh herb.
Understanding these subtle differences between Greek Oregano vs Oregano will help you pick the right variety for your dishes and lead to impressive culinary creations that would transport you straight to the Mediterranean coast.
Growing Conditions and Availability
Greek oregano and regular oregano require different growing conditions that influence their availability.
Greek oregano prefers drier and rocky soils, while regular oregano thrives in rich, moist soil.
Greek oregano is more commonly found in Mediterranean countries, whereas regular oregano can be found in many regions worldwide.
It’s worth noting that the two types of oregano have many similarities in terms of flavor and appearance.
Similarities Between Greek Oregano and Oregano
Greek oregano and oregano share many similarities.
They belong to the same plant family and have similar botanical names, Origanum vulgare and Origanum onites, respectively.
Both herbs have a strong, pungent flavor that pairs well with savory dishes.
Additionally, they are both used in traditional medicine for their antiviral and antibacterial properties.
Greek oregano and oregano also share some unique differences.
Greek oregano has a more intense flavor than regular oregano, slightly sweeter with hints of mint and lemon.
It is also known to contain higher levels of antioxidants and essential oils than regular oregano.
On the other hand, regular oregano has a milder taste with a slightly bitter aftertaste.
How to Store Greek Oregano and Oregano?
Preserving Greek Oregano and Oregano’s freshness is essential to maintain their flavors, aroma, and health benefits.
Here’s how you can Store Greek Oregano and Oregano.
- Store oregano in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
- Airtight containers keep the herbs fresh for a longer time.
- Freezing oregano is also another option that preserves flavor well.
- Examine the quality of your oregano frequently, and discard them if they appear discolored or have lost their aroma.
When storing oreganos, be mindful that heat, moisture, and air exposure are the enemies.
Moreover, it’s critical to verify that you don’t store them too long as this might result in losing their flavor and therapeutic properties.
Greek oregano and oregano may look the same, but they differ in terms of flavor and aroma.
Greek oregano has a stronger, spicy taste while regular oregano has a milder flavor.
However, both have similar health benefits such as antioxidative and antimicrobial properties.
In addition to their culinary uses, Greek oregano is commonly found in traditional medicines for treating respiratory and gastrointestinal problems while regular oregano is used for treating headaches and menstrual cramps.
Overall, both variants of oregano have unique characteristics that make them suitable for various purposes.
It’s imperative to pay attention to which variant you are using to get the desired taste and benefits.