The Wild Origan of Calabria



Origan, an aromatic plant belonging to the Lamiaceae family, is very common in the Mediterranean basin. It seems that there are more than 50 species, but the most sought after and used in the culinary field is the wild oregano that grows spontaneously under the Calabria sun, nearby the plateau of Mount Poro, a splendid place near to the major touristic attractions of Calabria: Capo Vatican and Tropea.

Sight of Mount Poro

The word origan comes from the Greek “oros”, which means mountain and “ganos” which means splendor. Its meaning is, therefore, “mountain splendor”, and these two adjectives and qualities has been attributed to the plant for its grace and abundance of its flowers.

Fields near Tropea are full of Origan

Origan is widely used in typical Calabrian recipes and is omnipresent in the cuisine like the Tropea onion inside tomato salads,  which in summer are both one of the most common side dishes on Calabrian tables.

Sight of Tropea

Origan is an aromatic plant very common in the Mediterranean basin. It seems that harvest for culinary aims began spontaneously since times of so called Magna Graecia under the Calabria sun, nearby the plateau of Mount Poro. Now, it is easy buying Origan in bunches in little shops in the major touristic attractions of Calabria: Capo Vatican and Tropea.

Leafs of Origan

The origan comes from the mountains as the Greek “oros” tells. The plant is a sort of decoration for the mountain, this explains the term “ganos” (inside the name) which means splendor. Its meaning, “mountain splendor” recalls the grace and abundance of its flower heads.

A Bunch of Origan

Origan is omnipresent in typical Calabrian recipes, side dishes and sauces of Calabrian cuisine.


In Calabria, origan is harvested mainly in June, when the plant flourishes. The typical Calabrian use requires drying immediately after harvest: after having formed some nice bunches, the herb should be dried upside down in a dry place away from the sun and stored in paper bags.

Splendid Leafs

Unlike all other aromatic plants, origan is the only one to reach its maximum fragrance after drying.

Abundantly used in aromatherapy, its infusions are an excellent remedy for coughs and digestive disorders.

Sight of Capo Vaticano

Extra virgin olive oil, how to buy it



The purchase of olive oil is often among the most difficult quotidian activities of housewifes and of everyone who loves the good cuisine.

We do not always have the opportunity to meet and know personally a producer or have an olive oil mill in our neighborhood. This explains why many of us are forced to turn to the large-scale retail trade, with all the pitfalls and possible frauds that involve this product in particular.

Difficult to understand…

Let’s try then to understand how to defend ourselves from fraud or counterfeiting and above all to add some tools that allow us to choose a good oil, clean, fair and above all healthy.

Meanwhile, we refer you to the following technical notes that help us understand what we mean, in Calabria, with the expression “first cold pressed”.

  • “First pressed” – means the olives were crushed and pressed only one time. The olive oil extracted from the first pressing is of the highest quality and purity.
  • “Cold pressed” – means that the olives never exceed a certain temperature during the entire pressing process– around 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Only a first cold pressed olive oil can meet high standards of quality, because purity of oil increases only following such process.


This year (2019), a real 1 Lt bottle of 100%-Italian extra virgin olive oil should not cost less than 8 euros. Below this figure it is legitimate to doubt about origin and quality.

If you follow such guidance and instructions, then there are no offers, promotions and below costs, which can be included in the definition of EVO.

Therefore, watch out for the harvest year which, if present, reveals that all the olives with which the oil was made were harvested in the same year.


Olive grower receives 4.7 euros for a kilo of oil.

The wholesale price then rises to 5.5 euros.

No quality, no label

Once worked by the olive oil industry the cost rises to 6.67 euros which includes: VAT, salaries of those who work there, marketing and bottle.

Please, add also the profit of the industry which is around 4% and the GDO margin, on average 15%

The final price therefore comes to around 8 euros. Lower prices are, sadly, only Community blends, potentially frauding!!


According to a well known research of Mr. Gennaro Sicolo, president of Italia Ovicola (an organization that involves 50% of olive growers in Italy), about one bottle out of two of extra virgin olive oil contains deodorized oils that are then mixed with Italian oils to give it a bit of flavor and reach the basic chemical and organoleptic parameters to be labeled as extra virgin.

“After two months on the shelf these oils in the panel test can be considered as adulterated,” explains Gennaro Sicolo.

But how is this scam happens?

No tag, no quality

In Italy the olives are harvested between September and October at the right point of ripeness, with a yield of 10 – 13 kg of oil per quintal of olives.

In Spain and Tunisia the harvest begins in January, when the raw material is very mature, in order to have a greater yield. But from a very ripe olive an acid oil is born, so that to remedy it is mixed with a bit of 100% Italian so as to obtain a light fruity that recalls the normal smell and taste of extra Virgin olive oil.

The price of such blend?

Wholesale these deodorized oil lots cost around 2.2-2.4 euros per liter, but to the consumer a mixture of such European community oils costs at least 5 euros … And here this lower price reveal itself as an indicator (certainly not the only one) if not of quality, of the absence of quality!!