Oregano is a popular herb that is used to season a wide variety of dishes. As such, it has become a staple herb in even the most basic of spice collections. When working with this herb, you may have found yourself wondering if your cooking might benefit from the use of fresh oregano as opposed to the typical dried variety your spice rack most likely holds.
Just what are the differences between fresh and dried oregano? Is one really any more desirable than the other? In this week’s SPICEography Showdown, we’ve explored the similarities and differences between the fresh and dried varieties of oregano to help you decide for yourself whether you can elevate your dishes by changing up this one simple ingredient.
Do fresh and dried oregano have the same flavor?
As you might expect, many herbs are more flavorful in one form than they are in the other. Some ingredients even take on a completely different flavor when dried.
This, however, is not the case with oregano. It is one of the few herbs that retains its flavor exceedingly well when dried. Even if you have a particularly discerning palate, you’ll find that dried oregano and fresh oregano are very similar in flavor.
Do fresh and dried oregano look alike?
The difference in appearance between fresh and dried oregano is exactly what you would expect. Fresh oregano is a bright, leafy green, while dried oregano is brown and has a consistency more similar to powder than a leaf.
This difference alone is often the primary reason many chefs prefer to use fresh oregano. It’s as simple as pure aesthetics—the vibrant green of fresh oregano can give your culinary creations a more exciting and colorful appearance.
Is dried oregano more readily available than fresh?
Yes, dried oregano is typically available at any grocery store or anywhere that basic spices are sold. Specialty supermarkets such as Whole Foods do carry fresh oregano and other herbs in their produce department. Fresh oregano can even be ordered online if you’re willing to pay a premium price for it.
This herb is also an easy one to grow and a popular choice for kitchen herb gardens, so if this is something you like to use often in your cooking, you might just consider growing your own!
Can dried oregano be used as a substitute for fresh? Can fresh oregano substitute for dried?
Dried and fresh oregano can absolutely substitute for each other. Whatever you’re cooking, it can be flavored with either. Simply adjust the amount you use by substituting three times the amount of fresh oregano as the amount of dried called for.
To look at it the other way around, here’s an example; if your recipe calls for one tablespoon of fresh oregano, you would need just one teaspoon of dried (or 1/3 the amount).
Is dried oregano as healthy as fresh oregano?
Not quite. If you’re looking to take advantage of the health benefits of this herb, you should choose fresh oregano.
Are fresh and dried oregano used in the same types of cuisine?
Oregano in any form is a strong herb and it can be overpowering if it’s not used just right. Because it is so strong, dried oregano is typically used in most types of cuisine. It’s a bit milder and complementary with less likelihood of overpowering other flavors.
Dried oregano is most often used in Italian, Mexican, Turkish and Greek cuisine. Fresh oregano is used to create flavorful oils and Greek dishes such as lamb.