When it comes to comparing basil vs oregano it is important to look at the health benefits and the growing conditions as well as how we may like to cook with each of these Mediterranean herbs. This way we can see how the different properties all link in with each other.
Basil Vs Oregano In The Garden
In the garden there is a marked difference between oregano and basil!
Basil will wilt and discolor in direct sunlight, whereas oregano is drought tolerant and will thrive in direct sunlight. Basil is fussy about the levels of watering and will dies with too much or too little. Both need well draining soil. Oregano can be a perennial, basil is an annual outdoors.
Don’t get me wrong oregano can die in a harsh Winter and some degree of protection from too much rain is required. Basil will only live all year if grown indoors.
You have many different varieties of basil to choose from and this is the beauty of growing your own herbs. You can really change a recipe by using Holy basil vs lemon basil for example. Oregano also comes in many different varieties and this can be great in the garden.
Pruning Basil Vs Oregano
Pruning is important, even for annuals like basil.
Oregano and basil both benefit from being harvested regularly and will produce more leaves and flourish if you do this right. With basil you pinch out above a node where two leaves are growing. Oregano you can cut entire stems to dry or pinch out the new growth from the tips.
I get a much better crop with my basil if I harvest regularly and feel the same is true of oregano but it doesn’t encourage the growth in quite the same way. With basil you can harvest and get a really substantial bushier plant, with oregano you will have that already but it tends towards leggy and woodiness if you don’t harvest often.
Cooking With Basil Vs Oregano
Both the flavor and how we cook with basil and oregano is different.
We tend to use basil as a garnish that is minty, zesty, peppery and with some intense clove like notes. Refreshing and intense in flavor a little goes a long way. Oregano is more often cooked with a dish to develop the flavor and it is earthy, herbaceous, woody and pungent with mint to citrus notes.
Oregano does produce flowers and these are edible, for more on edible flowers have a read here. These can be added to salads as an attractive garnish as well.
Can You Replace Basil With Oregano In Recipes
I think a lot of Mediterranean recipes call for both Basil and oregano so replacing one for the other works very well. If we look at using oregano in the sauce or whilst cooking, then look at how basil tends to be more of a garnish then it is possible but not without limitations.
You may wish to use oregano in the cooking rather than fresh basil as a garnish, but then use parsley to garnish in order to give a little bit of vibrancy and attraction to the dish. Using dried basil in place or oregano also works very well.
Fresh or Dried Basil Or Oregano
When we cook with fresh herbs we tend to use a greater quantity because the drying process will concentrate the flavor so much.
Basil becomes a more intense flavor when dried. With the cloves flavor still in the background but with more peppery and zesty notes to the fore. Oregano is similar in that it will intensify it’s flavor. So use 1 teaspoon dried = 1 tablespoon of fresh for basil or oregano.
Have a look at the health benefits because I was surprised and am even more motivated to use fresh or dried herbs in my cooking.
Basil Vs Oregano Health Benefits
I am looking at portion sizes here of 100g this is just so that you can compare to other leafy greens like spinach. However you are unlikely to be eating these potent herbs in those quantities. Think of this more as a guide than a goal! Values with thanks to NutritionValue.org.
|Basil –||Oregano –|
|Calcium 177.00 mg 14 %||Calcium 1597.00 mg 123 %|
|Iron 3.17 mg 18 %||Iron 36.80 mg 204 %|
|Magnesium 64.00 mg 16 %||Magnesium 270.00 mg 68 %|
|Folate 68mcg 17%||Folate 237.00 mcg 59 %|
|Vitamin A 264.00 mcg 29 %||Vitamin A 85.00 mcg 9 %|
|Vitamin B6 0.155 mg 12 %||Vitamin B 6 1.044 mg 80 %|
|Vitamin C 18.0 mg 20 %||Vitamin C 2.3 mg 3 %|
|Vitamin K 414.8 mcg 346 %||Vitamin K 621.7 mcg 518 %|
We can see basil is higher in Vitamin A and C than oregano. But oregano is very high in calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, Vitamin B6 and Vitamin K. It is also high in Manganese. Now I’m not saying that 100g of oregano is likely but adding a sprinkling into your food will all add up.
In fact 100g of either basil or oregano in one go is pretty hard to manage. So using them together and with other herbs will really give your health a boost.
What Next & Further Reading
I hope that this has inspired you to grow both basil and oregano in your garden and then look for some fabulous recipe ideas and inspiration! Health wise we know that herbs are packed with nutritional content, so the more we can grow and eat fresh from the garden the better. Good luck and let us know how you get on in the comments!
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