Oregano is a prolific and popular herb in the kitchen garden, thankfully it’s tasty fresh and dried. Learning how to dry oregano is a simple skill to master and one you’ll be grateful to have under your belt.
The best way to dry oregano is going to depend on your patience level and general humidity level but any of the different methods are fairly easy and hands-off.
Oregano is, of course, tasty in many meals but it also has some medicinal properties and can be used in a number of different ways meaning you won’t regret having it dried in the pantry for the future.
How to Harvest Oregano
Cut oregano from the garden when the stems are long but before it flowers for best flavor. It’s always best to cut after the morning dew has dried off.
The flower buds do have some light flavor and can be dried and used if you happen to miss harvesting before it flowers. However, the leaves will have the most intense flavor if harvested before the plant flowers.
Snip the oregano plants about an inch above the ground. Gather those stems in a basket or container and bring them into the kitchen.
Rinse & Dry the Stems
Remove any surface dirt or insects by giving the oregano a quick rinse under running cold water.
Give the stems a good shake over the sink to remove excess water. Running the stems through a salad spinner is also a great way to remove excess moisture.
Spread the stems out onto a towel to let any other moisture evaporate. This should take just a couple of hours at most. Once the stems and leaves are dry of surface water, it is time to proceed with the dehydration process.
How to Dry Fresh Oregano by Hanging
One of the easiest ways to dry herbs is simply to tie them in bunches and hang.
Grab a handful of stems, about 20 total, so that the cut ends all line up at one end of the small bunches.
Tie some twine or leftover yarn around the end of the stem. You can even use a rubber band to hold the bunches together. Tie it very tightly, as the stems will shrink as they dry and can slip out.
Hang the bunches on a hook or over a hanger in a space that is out of direct sunlight and has good air circulation.
Let hang until crispy and dry. Just exactly how long this air-drying method will take depends on your climate. Warmer and dryer will dry more quickly than humid and cool for example.
If you live in a particularly humid climate, it may take too long to dry this way and the herbs may actually mold instead. Consider using the oven or dehydrator instead.
How to Dry Oregano in the Oven
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Spread the oregano stems out onto the baking sheet in a single layer.
Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour. Check the leaves and make sure they are crispy dry. If the leaves aren’t completely dry, continue the drying process in the oven and check every 10 minutes. Remove from the oven when they are completely dry.
Let cool completely on the baking sheets.
How to Dry Oregano in the Dehydrator
If you have a food dehydrator with a fan, like an Excalibur, just know that once the oregano dries it may blow around the dehydrator. Not necessarily bad, just a little messy.
Cut the stems of oregano to fit onto dehydrator trays. Spread the stems out on the trays in a single layer and place trays in the dehydrator.
Turn the dehydrator to the lowest temperature and close the lid. Let the dehydrator run until oregano leaves are crispy and dry. Check after 1 hour and then every 15 minutes after, the amount of time until fully dry will again depend on your dehydrator and climate.
Removing the Leaves
If the stems were tied together to dry, cut them loose.
Over a large bowl, hold the dried stems a couple at time and make a loose fist around the stem. Take your fingers and slide them down the entire stem stripping the leaves and collecting them in the bowl.
Repeat this step until all the stems have been stripped.
How to Store Dried Oregano
Place the dry oregano leaves into airtight containers. A Mason jar works just fine. Store the herbs in a cool, dark, dry place.
For best flavor, use up dried oregano within a year. Simply toss outdated dried oregano into the compost heap.
How to Use Dried Oregano
Simply use 1 teaspoon of dried oregano for every 1 Tablespoon of fresh oregano called for in a recipe.
Crumble the dried leaves between your palms to add to soups and sauces.
Make a tasty and healing cup of oregano tea.
If you have a large herb garden and abundant harvest, be sure to dry extra and put them into small jars to share homegrown herbs with all your foodie friends and family.