Most traditional Greek cooks will tell you that the herb they use the most in their dishes is oregano, called “rigani” in the Greek language. Greek cooking would not be the same if it weren’t for the unique, slightly pungent aroma of oregano.
In fact, although many herbs and spices make their way into the food of Greece, oregano is by far the most popular. It is used either dried or fresh, and it is pretty common for Greeks to grow their own oregano at home. Here’s more information about it:
Greek Oregano is Different
There are a few varieties of oregano but there is only one that is found in Greece. It can also be found in some of the surrounding countries, like the Balkans. The scientific name for Greek oregano is Origanum vulgare hirtum, where “hirtum” describes its subspecies. This type of oregano thrives in the semiarid climate of Greece. It is hardy and strong and doesn’t require a lot of water since Greece could go long periods of time without rain. It also grows wild throughout the country, which means that even if the people don’t grow it themselves, it can easily be found throughout the countryside.
Flavor of Greek Oregano
These conditions also give the herb a different flavor. It is strong and slightly pungent, compared to other varieties of oregano that are a little milder. Of course, the flavor changes slightly depending on whether you use the fresh version of the herb or the dried version. It is used to flavor meats, soups, vegetable dishes, and more and even if a recipe doesn’t call for oregano, you might find that most Greek cooks include it anyway! Greek cooking simply wouldn’t be the same without it.
Medicinal Uses for Greek Oregano
Did you know that the Ancient Greeks used oregano as a medicine? The physician, Hippocrates, is well known for using it as an antiseptic. Today, the plant is used for its antibacterial properties, for respiratory illnesses, and for gastrointestinal disorders. The herb is also considered to be useful for its anti-inflammatory properties. In Greece, people often make a tea out of the leaves and sweeten it with Greek honey, and this is usually given to people when they are sick with a cold or the flu.
Buying Real Greek Oregano
No matter where you are living in the world, if you’re cooking Greek food, it’s worth it to take the extra step to buy authentic Greek oregano. Growing it outside won’t work unless you live in a climate similar to that of Greece. However, you could try growing it indoors no matter where you live. Aside from that, it is possible to buy dried Greek oregano online from Greek sellers. It really does change the flavor of the dish cooking with the authentic herb.
Greek oregano is one of the most important herbs in the cuisine. It’s worth it to take the extra step to use the real thing!