Thursday, June 23, 2011
In the past two years we have been experimenting with growing our own herbs. We have had peppermint and spearmint for several years and have enjoyed hot mint teas and iced tea. Last year we added many more herbs to our garden: sage, thyme, lemon balm and oregano. This year we have gone even further with chives, stevia, rosemary, apple mint, chocolate mint, sweet mint and another mint that I can't recall right now! One great benefit to these herbs is that they are all perennials!! Only one purchase last for years and years!
I thought I would share how we are using some of these herbs in the next few weeks. Today we'll look at oregano. We all know oregano is terrific for Italian dishes like spaghetti, lasagna and pizzas, but it is also good used fresh in green salads. It can also be added to bread doughs for a wonderful herbed bread or pizza crust.
Oregano also has a few medicinal uses that we hope to test as needed. You can use the fresh leaves to make an infusion (think tea) that is claimed to help headaches, menstrual cramps, insomnia and aid in digestion. Adding leaves to bathwater may ease aching muscles and hot compresses made with a very strong infusion can help clean and reduce the swelling of cuts and wounds. In medieval times, oregano was strewn on the floor along with the rushes to help mask the smells of rotting food and unsanitary living conditions.
This week I began harvesting some of our oregano that was growing like crazy and dehydrated it. I washed the cut stems and let dry on a towel then placed on the racks of the dehydrator. After it was dry I was easily able to pull the dried leaves from the stems and gently crush them into a bowl. I now have about 1/2 a cup of home-grown dried oregano to store for winter use. I will be drying lots more in the future...it's a simple way to preserve for year 'round use.