Oregano vs Mexican Oregano – What’s the Difference?

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When it comes to cooking with herbs, few are as versatile and widely used as oregano. But did you know that there are actually two different types of oregano?

While the most commonly used type is the Mediterranean oregano that’s found in most grocery stores, there’s also a variety known as Mexican oregano that’s used extensively in Latin American and Tex-Mex cuisine.

In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and differences between these two types of oregano, and share some tips on how to use each one to enhance your cooking.

Similarities between Oregano and Mexican Oregano

At their core, both Mediterranean and Mexican oregano are herbs that come from the same family of plants, Lamiaceae. Both types of oregano have a pungent, slightly bitter flavor that’s often described as being slightly minty or citrusy.

Both types of oregano also have a long history of use in traditional medicine, with various cultures using them to treat everything from respiratory ailments to digestive issues.

Differences between Oregano and Mexican Oregano

While there are many similarities between the two types of oregano, there are also some key differences that set them apart. One of the most notable differences is in their flavor profiles. While Mediterranean oregano is known for its slightly bitter and citrusy flavor, Mexican oregano has a more complex flavor that’s often described as being earthy, spicy, and slightly floral.

This is due in part to the fact that Mexican oregano is actually a different species of plant than Mediterranean oregano, and has a slightly different chemical makeup.

Another key difference between the two types of oregano is in the way they’re used in cooking. While Mediterranean oregano is a staple of many classic Italian and Greek dishes, Mexican oregano is most often used in Latin American and Tex-Mex cuisine.

Mexican oregano is often used to add flavor and complexity to dishes like chili, salsa, and mole, while Mediterranean oregano is more commonly used to flavor tomato-based sauces, meats, and vegetables.

Tips for Cooking with Oregano and Mexican Oregano

Whether you’re using Mediterranean or Mexican oregano in your cooking, there are a few tips to keep in mind to get the most out of these flavorful herbs.

When using Mediterranean oregano, it’s important to remember that a little goes a long way. This herb can quickly overpower other flavors in a dish, so it’s best to use it sparingly. Mediterranean oregano is often used to add depth and complexity to tomato-based sauces, and can also be used to flavor meats, vegetables, and breads.

When using Mexican oregano, it’s important to choose high-quality, fresh herbs. Mexican oregano is often sold in dried form, and can lose its flavor over time if not stored properly. To get the most out of your Mexican oregano, look for herbs that are fresh and fragrant, and store them in an airtight container away from heat and light.

Mexican oregano is also a great herb to use when making spice blends like chili powder or taco seasoning. It pairs well with other spicy and earthy flavors, and can help to create a complex and nuanced blend of spices that will take your dishes to the next level.

Final Thoughts

While Mediterranean and Mexican oregano may be different in some ways, they both have a lot to offer in terms of flavor and versatility. Whether you’re making a classic Italian pasta sauce or a spicy Mexican salsa, these two herbs can add depth, complexity, and flavor to your dishes.

So the next time you’re cooking with oregano, consider experimenting with both types to discover all the amazing ways these herbs can enhance your cooking and take your dishes to the next level.