Thursday, 7 August 2008

WHB - The Oregano that took over Ontario

I am guilty.

I start the season with the best of intentions. Planting new herbs, getting excited when last year's herbs start to leaf.

For the bullies; the oregano, mint and lemon balm - I make a solemn promise to stay on top of them. I vow to cut them regularly. To make teas and herb blends for friends and family. To never, ever, let them take over the garden and strangle those around them. Not like last year.

Now it is August, my oregano is three feet high and a tangled mess. My lemon balm has spread all over the right side of my garden and I can't find the peppers I planted there. My mint has flowered. Flowered!

I am shamed.

Yesterday I decided to harvest one herb every 1-2 days and dry them in the dehydrator. I started with the sage as - well, it seemed easier.

Today I tackled the oregano. It fought back. The mosquitoes were on it's side. No fair.

Finally I got it all inside and stuffed as much as I could into the sink. I washed it, defoliated it, washed it again and spun it dry. Four large batches. It took me 3 hours and my fingers turned into prunes. About three quarters of it fit into the dehydrator. The rest I decided to use up.

Hmm... what to do with extra fresh oregano? Michael?

Fortunately Michael Chiarello came to the rescue. I thumbed through his book "Flavored Oils and Vinegars" and found a suitable choice.

I started with his simple recipe for flavoured olive oil. I heated up one cup of extra virgin olive oil and a huge handful of oregano on medium/high until it started to boil. Removed it from the heat for a moment or two and strained into a clean mason jar. This will keep in the fridge for one week.

From there I made his recipe for oregano marinade. To my oil, I added 4 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and a half teaspoon red pepper flakes. Keep in the fridge for up to 4 days. This marinade is good for meat, poultry, fish or vegetables and perfect for grilling season.

Thank you Michael. I will be better at taking care of my herbs next year. I promise!

This is my submission for Weekend Herb Blogging, an event started by Kalyn of Kalyn's Kitchen. This week's host is Divya from Dil Se. Click here for the round-up.