Oregano should not be missing in any herb bed and is a constant accompaniment to various dishes. Origanum vulgare shows its flowers in summer. The plant forms countless small pink-colored lipped flowers that are arranged in pseudo umbels. When the flowers are fully open, insects gather on them to collect the nectar from the individual flowers. But is oregano still edible when it’s already in bloom?
Table of Contents
If you want to use the edible flowers, you should make sure to cut the oregano at the right time. The flowering period extends from June to September, but only if the plants are pruned properly. You should always cut back the plant in sections. A part is already shortened in May, when the first delicate tips are present.
It takes until summer for these shoots to regrow and they are the ones that will bloom in early fall. Another part is cut before the first tufts are properly formed. They usually flower again until late autumn. The third part is not cut and therefore flowers normally from June. The last part with the flower is cut back. If the autumn is long and warm, with a bit of luck this part can bloom again.
Although you can do without this staggered pruning, you often only have one flower, which ends around July. Once Origanum vulgare has flowered, it sees its job as done if you don’t prune the faded inflorescences.
Like the entire herb, the flower is edible, but you should wait until a large part of the cyme has fully blossomed before eating it fresh. The taste is difficult to describe, the basic note of oregano is retained, the flowers also have a slight sweetness, making them ideal for sophisticated dishes.
Harvest in the morning
When oregano is in bloom, the best time to harvest it is in the morning after it has had a few hours of sunshine. Ideally, it should not have rained before or the day before. This way it can optimally develop its aroma. The flower can still be eaten later, the more sun the plant gets, the greater the evaporation through the leaves, which means that the content of aromatic essential oils decreases. Overnight, the plant builds up essential oils again, which have reached their highest concentration again the next morning.
Harvesting flowering oregano
In order to get the best quality flowering oregano, you should start preparing for the harvest the day before. How to harvest Origanum vulgare with the flower:
- Shrub briefly the evening before
- cut whole umbel the next morning
- Make the cut just below the first branch
- Shorten the remaining stem to 10 cm
After the inflorescences have been cut off, place the pseudo umbels on a white cloth or piece of white paper in the sun for one to two hours. This gives small insects a chance to escape. Under no circumstances should you wash the mock umbels, this should be done the evening before by rinsing them off. Individual flowers are plucked from the pseudo umbels for further use.
In principle, all Origanum species are edible, but some of them have a particularly good taste even when they are in bloom.
The best varieties:
- Greek oregano (white or pink flower)
- Siberian oregano (light pink flower)
- Supreme (pink to soft purple flower)
- Hot ans Spicy (delicate pink flower – hot taste)
The flower can be used in many ways, but it has its most intense flavor when fresh. For example, it can be used for:
- aromatic drinks
- edible decoration
The individual flowers are not only a taste experience when used in dishes, but also a visual eye-catcher. You can use entire mock umbels for decoration or sprinkle the individual flowers over ready-made dishes such as pizza or pasta.
In theory, the buds could be dried, but then they not only lose their beautiful color, but also their taste. All that remains is the aromatic taste of the oregano.
An alternative way to process the pseudo umbels is to make a herbal syrup. The flowers of Mediterranean herbs such as oregano are ideal for this, as they still have their aromatic herbal taste, but this is much more subtle when the plant is in bloom.
Leaves still edible
If you don’t want to use the flower but have a blooming oregano in your garden, you can still use the leaves. However, the entire herb can then no longer be processed, as the stems become hard with the blossom and are no longer easy to chew. However, the content of ingredients decreases with older leaves, which is why it makes sense to force new shoots.
If you only want to use the leaves of a flowering oregano, cut off the inflorescences about 10 cm above the ground. The leaves are then plucked from the stalk and processed further. When the oregano is in bloom, however, the last resort is to harvest the leaves for fresh consumption before the plant is pruned back to form new shoots.
With flowering, the plant puts its strength into reproduction, and the leaves become more and more solid with age and are therefore no longer usable when fresh. You can still collect older leaves after flowering, but then only process them into dry spices, since they have to be ground. Otherwise the leaves will have an unpleasant coarse structure.