Oregano’s earthy flavor makes it suitable for use in a variety of savory applications. It is traditionally used in sauces, salad, vegetable seasoning, kebabs, and fish dishes.
Also known as the ‘pizza herb,’ this is the perfect herb for drying since the flavor is actually enhanced when dried.
Here is a full guide to drying oregano naturally and successfully.
Types of Oregano
Oregano is sometimes referred to as wild marjoram, although it has a much stronger flavor than marjoram. The plant has purple flowers with olive-green color leaves.
Oregano is a popular herb in the Mediterranean, especially Italian, cuisine. Climate, season, and soil composition can all play a part in the strength of the aromatic flavor.
Although used worldwide, oregano’s most renowned use is in pizza and pasta sauces. It is also popularly used with roasted, and grilled vegetables, as well as meat, and fish dishes. Oregano is a staple in Greek and Mediterranean salads with olive oil dressings.
Can You Dry Oregano?
Yes, oregano leaves can be dried, and actually have a more pronounced flavor when dried. There are several ways to dry the herb including air-drying, using a dehydrator, and oven drying.
Although slower methods using low heat are better for flavor preservation, oregano can also be dried quickly in the microwave.
When drying oregano, it is important to make sure that the leaves are completely free of moisture before packing as mold will develop if moisture is present.
How To Dry Oregano
Rinse the oregano leaves lightly to remove dirt, chemicals, and small insects. Place the leaves on a clean paper towel and pat them dry. If the leaves are still a little wet, leave them to dry completely. Do not start the drying process until the leaves are completely dried after washing.
Option 1: Hanging
Step 1: Tie Bundles
Tie a few oregano sprigs together with a piece of string or twist tie. Don’t make the bundles too big to ensure even drying.
Step 2: Hang
Hang the bundles of oregano sprigs to dry from a hook or wall tack. To protect the herbs from dust, cover each bundle with a perforated paper bag or muslin cloth. Punch holes in the bag and leave the bottom open. Do not use plastic as this will prevent airflow and cause mold.
Choose a light area with good air circulation to hang the sprigs. After 2 weeks, the leaves should be dry, shriveled, and brittle. Completely dry leaves should break easily when you handle them.
Step 3: Pack
Working over a bowl, run your fingers down the sprig stem to remove the leaves. Crumble the dried leaves into small pieces. They should break with little effort.
You can store the leaves whole, however, the smaller pieces are easier to use in dressings and more palatable when incorporated into dishes.
Store the dried, crushed herbs in a jar or container with a lid and label it with the date and contents.
Option 2: Oven-Dry
Step 1: Preheat the Oven
Set your oven to its lowest temperature setting around 170 °F to 200 °F (93 °C) to heat up.
Step 2: Prepare Leaves
Take the cleaned oregano sprigs and lay them out on a lined baking tray in a single layer so that they do not overlap each other.
Step 3: Bake
Place the tray of sprigs in the oven and prop the door open slightly to allow for airflow. Turn the leaves after 20 minutes to allow even drying on both sides. Return the tray to the oven with the door propped open a little.
After a further 20 minutes, check on the leaves. If they are not dry yet, turn again and place them back in the oven, checking on them every 5 minutes. Depending on how many leaves you are drying, it will take up to an hour.
Remove the baking tray from the oven. When completely dry, the leaves should crumble when pinched between your fingers.
Step 4: Pack
Run your fingers down the sprig stem to remove the leaves and crumble them into smaller pieces. Store the oregano in resealable plastic bags, spice bottles, or containers. Label with the date and contents.
Option 3: Microwave
To dry oregano in the microwave, lay the sprigs or leaves on a paper towel in a single layer so that they do not overlap. Place another paper towel on top to cover the leaves. Microwave for 60 seconds on a high-power setting.
Thereafter, microwave in 15-second intervals until the leaves are dry and crunchy.
Remove the leaves from the sprigs and crumble them. Package the dried herbs in a labeled airtight container.
Add dried oregano leaves to your pizza and pasta for an authentic Italian flavor. The method you choose to dry oregano will depend on the time and equipment you have available. If you live in a very humid climate it is best to avoid hanging it to dry.
Regardless of which method you choose, ensure the herbs are completely dry before packing. This way you will be able to enjoy your naturally dried herbs for over a year.
Up next: how to dry basil
*image by Nikolay_Donetsk/depositphotos