Spotlight Spice: Oregano
Picture this… you run into the shop to grab a few things, and Oregano is on your shopping list. You reach the herbs aisle only to discover there are two oreganos on the shelf – Mediterranean Oregano and Mexican Oregano. Which one should you grab? Well, it depends on what you’re making.
Mediterranean Oregano is mild, minty, and a bit sweet. It has a bit of bitterness, which can vary in intensity. It’s a member of the Origanum family of plants native to the Mediterranean region and is sometimes referred to as wild marjoram.
It’s a staple in Italian food, but you’ll also find it in other regional recipes – especially Turkish, Moroccan, and Spanish cuisine. Use it with fish, lamb, veggies, and tomato sauces. Mediterranean Oregano is one of the few herbs which packs as much punch dried as fresh.
Side note: Mediterranean Oregano (also called wild marjoram) is completely different than Marjoram Leaf (or sweet marjoram) which also belongs to the Origanum family of plants. They are similar in flavor; however, marjoram tends to be sweeter and a bit more floral. Super clear, right?
Mexican Oregano, on the other hand, is earthy and woodsy with a hint of citrus. It comes from the same family of plants as verbena and is native to Mexico. It pairs well with savory Mexican and Tex-Mex dishes with cumin and smokey flavors. You’ll sometimes see it used as a substitute for epazote leaves, which can be harder to track down here. Give Mexican Oregano a try it in your chili, stews, tacos, and beans.
We’re commonly asked if they are interchangeable, and our answer is no – at least not to achieve the same flavor profile. In your kitchen, you’re the boss, so use what suits you. We prefer to stick to the Mediterranean variety for dishes from the region and the Mexican variety for our Southwestern and Mexican cooking. For those reasons we keep a jar of each in the spice rack.
If you’ve not tried Mexican Oregano, pick up a jar in the shop or online and give it a try in your next savory southwest-inspired dish.