Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Oregano Blossoms

One of the best parts of gardening is being able to select your fruits, veggies, and herbs at the stage at which you like them best -- if you love green tomatoes or baby zucchini, they are there for you without the need to pay a premium price.

One of the luxuries I like is dried oregano blossoms to use as the herb oregano in lieu of just using the leaves.   The blossoms, picked just before they open into a pretty white flower, have a really intense oregano flavor and smell, even when dried.

This year is shaping up to be a great year for this sort of thing.  We had a long rainy spring, followed by a heat wave, which means that many of my young herb plants are misreading the signs and thinking it is time to bolt -- that is, shoot up and blossom so as to produce seeds.  My young oregano plants are sending up stems with blossoms on them, and I picked a bunch this morning to dry and save to use as an herb this winter.  It helps the plant be more productive, and it gives me the luxury of using almost exclusively blossoms in my cooking.  You can bet that isn't usually one of your options on the grocery spice rack!
The Analysis

Fast:  Pick a few stems, rinse, and pop them in the food dehydrator; in a few hours, you have concentrated herb goodness!

Cheap:  Drying food and herbs is one of the cheapest methods of preservation out there.  To maximize the electricity used with an electric dehydrator, I try to make sure I have at least 3 of the 5 trays full.

Good:  If you are growing oregano this year (and it isn't too late to start for most gardeners, as it grows quickly), try saving some of the blossoms.  You'll be pleasantly surprised at the intensity.
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