Learn everything you need to know to dry oregano in the oven plus two other easy methods! Preserve your homegrown oregano to enjoy all year long.
Oregano is an easy and rewarding plant to grow in any herb garden. Enjoying fresh oregano sprigs in your homemade meals is a delightful way to add flavor in the kitchen! Unfortunately, oregano doesn’t typically grow year-round. That’s where preserving comes in.
Drying herbs is a great way to preserve them for future use. Dried herbs last for months and allow you to enjoy homegrown herbs throughout the winter when fresh herbs aren’t available.
There are many different methods for drying oregano, but the oven, dehydrator, and air drying produce the best results.
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How to Harvest Oregano
Harvesting oregano is very easy and doesn’t require any special knowledge or skills. Simply use scissors to cut the stems about an inch away from the soil, leaving a leaf or two to continue growing.
As a perennial herb, oregano will come back year after year. It can be harvested as soon as there is significant growth in the early summer and continually until the first frost of the fall.
Once you have harvested the oregano, I recommend giving it a quick rinse under cold water. Remove excess water from the rinsing by spinning it in a salad spinner or patting it dry with a kitchen towel. Any water left on the leaves could lead to mold or make drying the oregano more challenging.
How to Dry Oregano in the Oven (Step-by-Step Instructions)
Drying oregano in the oven is easy, effective, and doesn’t require a lot of special equipment. In less than an hour, you can have the oregano completely dry and ready for storage! While oven drying does require attentiveness to avoid burning it, it is much faster than the other methods.
- Preheat the oven to its lowest temperature setting (usually around 150° – 200°F).
- Lay the sprigs of oregano in a single layer on a baking tray lined with parchment paper, ensuring they have adequate space between them.
- Place the baking sheet of oregano on the top rack and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon to release excess moisture and promote drying.
- After the first 30 minutes, begin checking the oregano every 10-15 minutes. Once the leaves are dry and brittle, remove it from the oven.
- Allow the oregano to cool completely before stripping the leaves off of the stem and transferring them to a storage container.
How to Air Dry Oregano
Air drying oregano is another effective and easy method. The benefit of the air-drying method is how hands-off it is. Once you hang your oregano out to dry, you can forget about it without worrying about it burning. This method does require a bit of space, however, especially if you are drying a lot of herbs.
- Once oregano is washed and patted/spun dry, tie the stems into bundles of 4-8. I like to secure the bundles with a rubber band and then tie a piece of twine into the rubber band.
- Hang the bundles from a rod, drying rack, or hook. Be sure that they are away from the wall to ensure good air circulation. Try to choose a dry area out of direct sunlight for your drying location.
- Allow the oregano to air dry until the leaves are brittle and crumble when pinched. In dry climates, this could be in 1-2 weeks, and in more humid climates, it can take longer.
- Once the leaves are dry, strip them off of the stems and pack away for long-term storage. Try to avoid leaving the oregano hanging longer than necessary as it will gather dust.
How to Dry Oregano in a Food Dehydrator
Food dehydrators are great tools for drying a lot of herbs, fruits, veggies, and more. While they require a bit of a financial investment upfront, food dehydrators are a great way to dry herbs. Because they run at a lower temperature, they are less likely to burn herbs than the oven.
- Spread the oregano sprigs on a dehydrator tray in a single layer.
- Place the tray in the dehydrator set to its lowest setting (around 90-100°F).
- After a few hours, begin checking the oregano frequently. The drying time will depend on a number of factors but should take around 6 hours. Be careful not to overcook the oregano.
- Once the leaves are dry and brittle, turn off the dehydrator and allow the oregano to cool completely.
- Strip the leaves off of the stem before transferring them to a storage container.
How to Store Dried Oregano
Dried oregano is best kept in an airtight container such as a glass spice jar, a mason jar, or a zip-top bag. Store dried herbs in a cool, dark place to maximize their flavor lifespan.
Once you strip the dried oregano leaves off of the stems, you can decide how small you want to grind the leaves. You may simply crush them into small pieces with your hands or a mortar and pestle. Alternatively, you can make a fine powder by running the leaves through a blender.
Uses for Dried Oregano
Dried oregano is a delicious herb that adds flavor to many soups, pasta sauces, and more! Here are a few of my favorite uses for it:
- Add to tomato-based soups such as minestrone or tomato basil soup.
- Use in homemade tomato sauce for delicious pasta.
- Add it to simple vinaigrettes for a bit of herby flavor.
- Brew a cup of tea using it. Oregano tea may have a lot of health benefits!
- Stir into olive oil with dry basil, garlic, and red pepper flakes to make a delicious bread dip.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I use dried oregano instead of fresh oregano?
The best practice for substituting dried herbs for fresh herbs is to use a ratio of 3:1.This means that for a recipe calling for 3 tablespoons of fresh oregano, you would use 1 tablespoon of dried oregano.
It is best, however, to start with just a little and taste as you go. Herbs that have been dried recently will have a lot more flavor than herbs that were dried months or years ago.
How long is dried oregano good for?
Dried oregano is technically edible for years if it is properly dried. That said, the recommended shelf life for dried herbs is about a year. After that, they begin to lose their flavor. I like to dry herbs every fall so I have freshly dried, homegrown herbs with the best flavor all year.
Can I freeze oregano instead of drying it?
Yes, freezing oregano is a great way to preserve it. If you prefer to keep your oregano closer to its fresh form, I recommend freezing it.
This can be done by simply placing the sprigs into a freezer-safe bag or by chopping up the leaves and freezing them in an ice cube tray with oil or water. Use them straight from the freezer without thawing first.
Can I dry fresh oregano that I bought at the grocery store?
Yes, of course! Store-bought herbs can be dried just like homegrown to preserve them.
How to Dry More Fresh Herbs
Fill your spice cupboard with all of your homegrown herbs this season! Here’s how to dry more delicious herbs: