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Synonym: wild marjoram;

botanical name: Origanum vulgare L. ssp. vulgare

Echter Dost


In den Leitsätzen des Deutschen Lebensmittelbuches wird "Oregano" als Pflanzenteile des Küchenkrauts Origanum vulgare definiert.

Die Stammpflanze Origanum vulgare wird wiederum in 6 weiteren Unterarten unterteilt. Wird keine genauere Bezeichnung der Unterart genannt, so versteht man darunter meistens den Echten Dost (Origanum vulgare L. ssp. vulgare).

In the guidelines of the German Foodstuffs Code oregano is defined as a plant component of the culinary herb Origanum vulgare.


In turn, the family plant Origanum vulgare is subdivided into six subspecies. If no specific subspecies is designated, then it is generally oregano (Origanum vulgare L. ssp. vulgare) that is meant.


Coming from the Mediterranean region, cultivation spread over all of Europe and the temperate zones of Asia. Oregano was later also introduced to North America. In many countries of the Mediterranean wild-growing plants are also collected.


The herb is cultivated particularly in central and southern Europe, predominantly in France, Greece, Spain and Italy, but the USA and Mexico are also main producers. The countries of Scandinavia, Scotland, and some Asian countries export oregano as well; Germany plays only a minor role.



In commercial cultivation, the harvest takes place in July, at the beginning of florescence, and in September. Oregano is also well-suited for planting in one's own herb garden. The leaves and fresh shoots can then be harvested from spring into the autumn.


Oregano is sold almost exclusively in dried form.


Appearance, taste, characteristics

Oregano is closely related to marjoram and is often confused with it. Like marjoram, it belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae).


The approximately 50-cm shrub forms runners and can grow as high as 1.2 m. The plant is used for 3-5 years.


Its square stems stand upright, are branched, pilose and often reddish. The leaves are tapered and ovoid to heart-shaped, entire, and can be slightly pilose or hairless. They are about 5 cm long and 2.5 cm wide.


In the period from July to September, oregano usually develops blossoms with dark-red bracts and a pale-pink, whitish or red-violet inside, which appears only when the blossoms open.


The herb is characterized by a pleasantly tangy marjoram-like scent. It has a strong, pungent and slightly bitter taste that is a bit more robust and peppery than that of marjoram.



Oregano contains between 0.3% and 1.5% essential oil; peaks of even 4% are possible. The composition of the oil depends on the variety and the time of harvest. An important component is caracole, along with thymol, terpenes, cymene and myrcene. In some varieties thymol predominates.


Flavonoids and tannins such as rosmarinic acid are also contained in oregano.


Quality criteria, optimal storage conditions

Like most fresh herbs, oregano can be kept for several days in the refrigerator if it is wrapped in cling film (plastic wrap). Normally, however, the dried herb is used. If you store it in a place that is cool, dry and protected from light it will keep for several years without losing its aroma.


Presumed effect on health

Owing to its slightly bitter aromatic flavour, oregano stimulates the appetite and digestion. Some effects of marjoram are also attributed to oregano.


Form of consumption, use, processing, practical tips for preparation

Oregano can be used fresh as well as dried and crushed or ground. Dried oregano is the form most used in Germany and it normally contains parts of the inflorescences and pieces of the stems in addition to leaves.


It is a classical Italian seasoning and is used above all for pasta sauces, pizza and tomato dishes. It is also used widely in other Mediterranean countries and in North and South America. The seasoning is excellent with vegetables, mainly aubergine / eggplant, sweet peppers, zucchini and beans, but also with mushrooms, risotto and macaroni.


Oregano is also indispensible in Greek cuisine for souvlaki (skewered meat), fried fish and Greek salad. It also goes well with roasts, barbecued and minced meat and barbecued and fried seafood. The aroma enhances soups, marinades, vegetable stews and egg dishes. In Italy even biscuits/cookies are flavoured with oregano.


Seasoning tip

Oregano is excellent with garlic and olives. It harmonises with basil, rosemary and thyme, but not with marjoram.


For cooked dishes it is recommended to add the seasoning only 10 minutes before cooking ends.





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