Warm, aromatic oregano offers a bold, gutsy bite.
Credit: Photo: Oxmoor House

SEASON: Spring through fall

CHOOSING: Look for fresh, green oregano that isn’t bruised or wilted.

STORING: Keep cut oregano in a plastic produce bag in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator, or store in the freezer.

GROWING: Oregano is a perennial herb in all except the coldest areas of the United States, where it can be grown as an annual. In warm areas, it can be evergreen. No matter where you live, it is a flavorful, easy-to-grow kitchen staple.

There are many types of oregano, but the most common plants for sale are grown from seeds. Flavorful Spanish and Greek oregano are good options if you can find them. Ornamental forms such as golden oregano are lovely decorative plants in the garden but are not what you need in the kitchen. Set plants in a sunny bed with rich, well-drained soil. Although oregano is drought-tolerant, an established plant will be more productive when watered about once a week.

The aromatic, dime-sized leaves grow on stems that can reach as long as 3 feet. The stems are likely to droop, especially as flower buds begin to form, which signals that the foliage is at its peak flavor. This is also the ideal time to cut the plant back to 6 to 8 inches—do so once or twice each growing season to keep it full and thriving. Fertilize with timed-release granules or a liquid fertilizer as needed to maintain healthy growth.