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Love using oregano in recipes? Learn how to dry oregano to preserve the fresh flavor of this classic garden herb.
Fresh herbs are one of the best ways to liven up dishes. But when the temperatures start to dip into freezing it can be harder to find fresh herbs.
Thankfully, I have a big herb garden at my house every summer, so at the end of the season I harvest as much as I can for drying.
Oregano is a great herb to grow and save because it is used in so many dishes. In fact, you probably use dried oregano more than fresh oregano!
If you want to preserve your homegrown oregano or use every last bit of store bought oregano, dry it!
Drying herbs like oregano is incredibly easy and economical.
How to harvest oregano
If you are harvesting oregano from your garden, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Make sure to harvest before the plant flowers. The flavor of oregano is in the leaves, but once it flowers the plant focuses its energy on the flowers, and the leaves can become bitter.
Harvest once the plant reaches at least 4 inches. Use a small pair of scissors to cut just above a set of leaves.
If you are harvesting in the middle of the season, make sure to leave plenty of stems so that it can reshoot and continue to grow.
If you’re at the end of the season, it’s OK to harvest further down the stem, as the plant will die off for the winter.
How to dry oregano
You can dry your oregano either by air drying or oven drying.
To air dry, gently wash any dirt from the oregano stems. Discard any slimy leaves and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
Gather the oregano stems into a bundle.
Cut a length of kitchen string and tie a knot around one end.
Tie a loop into the other end of the string, or cut off the excess.
Hang the oregano in a cool, dry place. A hanging rack that provides air flow is best, but if you need to hang it against the wall, that will work too.
Depending on the size of your bundle and the level of moisture in your house, it can take anywhere from 3 days to 3 weeks to fully dry the oregano.
Check the bundle every day or every other day for dryness. The oregano should easily crush between your fingers when dried.
Once dry, remove oregano from the hook and untie the bundle. Strip leaves from stems and store in a spice jar.
How to dry oregano in the oven
If you want to dry your herbs faster, the oven is the way to go.
Set your oven to the lowest temperature it can go. This is usually 170°F or 175°F.
Wash and pat dry the oregano, then spread the stems in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Place in the oven and leave the oven door slightly ajar. Bake for about 1 hour, checking every 20 minutes or so for dryness.
Let cool, then strip the leaves from the stems and store.
Keep your dried oregano in an airtight container, such as a glass spice jar or mason jar.
You can also store dried herbs in plastic containers or bags, but they will not stay fresh quite as long.
Store the jar in a cool, dry place. Heat from ovens or stovetops can make spices lose their flavor more quickly, so don’t keep them right next to your stove.
Dried oregano should last for a year or more. If the oregano no longer has an aroma, it’s time to replace it.
Recipes for using dried oregano
Drying oregano is a great way to reduce kitchen waste, so give it a try.
How to Dry Oregano
- 1 bunch fresh oregano
- Rinse oregano gently, removing any dirt or slimy leaves. Pat dry with a towel.
To hang dry
- Gather the thyme together into a bundle. Cut a length of kitchen twine and tie a knot around one end of the oregano. Tie a loop around the other end and hang in a cool, dry place.
- It will take between 3 days and 3 weeks for the oregano to fully dry.
To oven dry
- Turn your oven as low as it can go. (For my oven this is 170°F.)
- Spread the oregano in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in the oven and leave the door ajar.
- Check the oregano every 15-20 minutes for dryness, pinching a leaf or two between your fingers to see if it crumbles. The oregano should be fully dry within 1 hour.
- When oregano is dry, strip the leaves and place in a glass jar. Label and store in a cool, dry place for up to 1 year. Once the oregano loses its aroma, it's time for a new batch.