Oregano is a member of Lamiaceae, the nectar-producing mint family that includes marjoram, thyme, and lavender as relatives. There are many different species of oregano but Gangi Dante’s dry rocky soil was planted with the spicy, slightly bitter Wild Oregano (Origanum vulgare).
Oregano is a perennial plant which grows up to 20 inches tall, and produces spear branches with purple flowers and round shape, dark green leaves. Oregano prefers a hot, dry climate, dry soils and full sun.
The green to gray foliage and upright stacks are harvested in September just as the small oregano blossoms start to open. Carefully gathered by hand, the branches of oregano are laid on coarse fiber mats protected by canopies to shade them from the direct sunlight and allowing for air circulation. The oregano is gently turned a few times to ensure even drying throughout the drying process until dry to the touch but not brittle. The vibrant color remains and the essential oils are locked in and intensified. The oregano is then tied in bouquet bunches. After drying the oregano has bright flavors with hints of mint, marjoram and lemon scents.
Using your fingertips, gently crush the oregano blossoms over sliced tomatoes, grilled vegetables and potato salad. Wonderful to sprinkle on grilled fish, chicken and roast lamb. Use as a brush with olive oil for added flavor when grilling.