Monday, September 15, 2008

Oil of Oregano

One of my neighbors gave me a slip of oregano a few months ago, and it has grown wilder than my wildest expectations!

The other day I realized that it is time to do something with it. But what?

I clipped off all the trailing ends that looked prepared to take over the yard, and ended up with a huge aromatic pile of "oregano tips", shown here in front of the remaining garden that doesn't look at all trimmed.

Visions of pizzas and guacamoles swam through my head as I carried my bundle back to the house. I want to use several of the cuttings to dry and store, but wanted to try some other interesting things ... experiment around a bit ... so I decided to start with an Oregano Oil, which has lots of medicinal, as well as (hopefully) culinary, uses.

Medicinal Uses:

Numerous university studies (Georgetown, Cornell, Tennessee, etc.) and independent research have shown Oregano Oil to be a potent antimicrobial. The ever growing body of evidence is showing Oregano Oil to be useful as an antiviral, antibacterial, and antifungal agent rivaling even pharmaceutical antibiotics in it's ability to eliminate microbes. Remarkably it accomplishes this without promoting the development of drug resistant strains and other problems often attributed to the use of standard antibiotics. In addition to this already impressive list of abilities Oregano Oil is also a powerful parasitic expellant, is valuable as a food preservative, and has been used to decontaminate foods from potentially harmful pathogen's. Carvacrol has been identified as the chief constituent behind Oregano Oil's extraordinary properties.

Culinary Uses:

This is where I'm hoping to get some help!!!

How might one use oregano oil in cooking?
Is there anything interesting that I can do with fresh oregano?
Anybody have any ideas?

Oregano Oil

(N.B. Essential oils are usually obtained from plants through the process of steam distillation, for which I do not have the proper equipment. The following method will not result in a pure essential oil, but in an oil that contains the essential oil of the plant.)

First, I filled a large bottle with torn fresh oregano leaves.

Then topped it up with vegetable oil.

And now I've left the covered bottle in a sunny spot for ... well ... I've read about lots of different times ... from 6 days to 20 days ... so I figure I will just check it regularly until it is the strength I want.

The Verdict:

You'll have to stay tuned for the final verdict as well as any interesting ways I find to use it ... I will provide regular updates in the blog ... however, I did check it a few minutes ago, after about 24 hours of sitting in a warm sunny place. I found that you smell very little of the aroma of oregano just by smelling the open bottle, but when I put a dab on my wrist, it had a definite but gentle aroma.


How lucky you are to have fresh oregano so quickly! I'm getting ready to start an herb pot, but won't be able to harvest as quickly! I use flavored oils on grilled meats, seafood, and vegetables to toss in pasta or with rice. They're so tasty! Have fun experimenting.

Thanks for the ideas, Kelly. I will definitely be experimenting with it and hope to make others, especially some for the soap making business that the women of this jungle village hope to begin (but that is another story). I really like the name of your blog and I do believe that we grew up with the exact same cookbook ... as a matter of fact, it is one of the dozen or so that are still in Mom's much downsized pantry.

Great idea, Anne!

It's funny (maybe not) that a good friend and I were discussing the same topic as his father grows some excellent Greek oregano. My friend makes a kind of face mask with it along with some other ingredients, and calls it his secret recipe - it makes my face glow!

There are many varieties of oregano and some are 'stronger' than others. I've read that the best time to collect the leaves is when the plant is in flower bud, but just before they open. It's also best to collect the plants just after the morning dew has evaporated and before the hot sun starts to dissipate some of their essential oils. When you decide to 'decante'it, mashing the leaves before straining it will probably add to the aroma and color too. Maybe some oregano oil soap??

Best of luck with it and do let us know the results...


Hi MR, Too bad that recipe is secret ... I would love to have that one!! Thanks for the tips on the picking and decanting ... and yes, i love the idea of an oregano soap!

Re results: I noticed yesterday that it is bubbling ... do you think that is normal? The smell also has a bit of an under-aroma that is not noticeable when you put it on your skin. Is it possible for this mixture to go bad? If so, how does one prevent it? I guess I need more research.

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