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oregano

oregano
oregano
a.k.a.

wild marjoram

what is it?

Oregano is a warm, aromatic herb used widely in Italian, Greek, and Latin American cooking. It's closely related to marjoram, but it lacks marjoram's sweetness and has a stronger, more pungent flavor. It's readily available both fresh and dried. Fresh oregano has a milder, more delicate flavor, but both forms pair extremely well with tomato-based dishes, like pasta and pizza.

how to choose:

Supermarkets package fresh herbs in various ways: loose in small plastic boxes, fastened in bunches with rubber bands, or sometimes still growing in a pot. No matter the packaging, look for herbs with vibrant color and aroma (open up those boxes for a sniff), and avoid those that are limp or yellowing, have black spots, or don't smell totally fresh and appetizing.

how to prep:

Wash herbs only when you're ready to use them, because excess moisture shortens their shelf life in the refrigerator. Greenhouse herbs will be cleaner than field-grown and may not need washing. But if the herbs look or feel sandy, wash them no matter what their origin.

To wash fresh herbs, put them in a large bowl of cool water and swish them to release grit. Lift the herbs out of the water with your hands, a sieve, or a skimmer. If you see a lot of grit on the bottom of the bowl, wash the herbs again in a fresh bowl of water. Spin them dry in a salad spinner or gently blot them dry by rolling them up in a clean towel.

Chop fresh oregano with a sharp knife or snip with scissors. A sharp knife is imperative for chopping herbs. A dull one will crush and bruise tender leaves, giving you blackened rather than green results. Try using scissors to snip off small amounts.

how to store:

You can refrigerate fresh oregano in a plastic bag for up to 3 days. Dried oregano should be stored in a cool, dark place for no more than 6 months.

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