Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hello there, we have been collecting oregano, Origanum vulgare during the last few days in the hills above Argyroupoli.. The finest plants are slender and have a multitude of white inflorescenses, the stems are cut one by one...

Its a beautiful place here, old olivetrees and abandoned fields... Its quiet, only the constant chirping sound of the cicadas, called tzitzikas in Greek, fill the air in those hot days now... Cicadas shed their skins as they become adults, and these delicate abandoned skins are found on many a oregano plant these days.
We do not distill essential oil of oregano, since the amount of herb required is large, and oregano is widely collected locally by the people for culinary use, so we just share with everybody else. That is, we collect only for 'herb', and a few days of collection gives us the amount we need and can offer for a year.
As with all our culinary herbs, we discard whatever might be left of last years herbs, when the new collection is in, has dried and is ready for packing. We believe, that herbs are best within a year after their collection, they loose most of their aroma and colour if kept longer, just as we can see with most commercial herbs, which mostly are given a shelf-life or 'best before' date of five

Now the oregano is drying up in Kallikratis, hanging in bunches, and we went down to the sea near Frangokastello, to have a look at our Vitex agnus castus, chastetree population. The plants are in full bloom now, so beautiful.. Vitex usually flowers a beautiful mauve-lilac, but there are some rare plants, that flower white as well.. Already Dioscurides in his Materia Medica, 79 BC, describes a white flowering and a lilac flowering kind of chastetree.. Here you can see one of each, flowering by the beach...

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