Learn How to Dry Oregano at Home
Learn how to dry Oregano using one of the methods for drying herbs, which include the traditional hanging of small bunches, oven drying and solar drying. These methods are easily done at home and require no specialized equipment.
Traditional Drying Method
Gathering and Hanging Oregano to Dry
- Garden or Kitchen shears
- Basket or other container suitable for Oregano sprigs
- Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels
- Rubber Bands
- Clothes Drying Rack, Dry attic or porch
- Small Brown Paper Bags (optional)
- Gather your Oregano harvest in the morning hours after the sun has dried away the dew of the night.
- Gather the sprigs into loose bundles and secure the stems with rubber bands to assure that the bundles stay together as they dry.
- If using brown paper bags, cover each bundle loosely with the bags that have slits cut into the sides to allow for adequate air flow around the herbs. The paper bags keep dust off of the Oregano, as it dries and the sunlight from bleaching out the color. Care must be taken to make sure that enough air flows through the bag to keep the Oregano from molding, especially in times of high humidity or rain. Check occasionally to make sure, and, if need be either cut more holes in the bags or remove them. Sometimes the moisture builds up inside the bag, especially if the sun hits it, allowing fungus and mildew to form.
- Hang upside down in a warm, dry place such as an attic or porch until the leaves are brittle to the touch, approximately 2 weeks. These bundles can also be hung in the sun on a clothes line or portable rack, if the weather permits.
- Gather the dried bundles and place on a sheet of wax paper.
- Crumble the dried leaves and separate out all of the tough stems onto the wax paper.
- Gather two corners of the paper and form into a funnel. Pour the dried Oregano into a clean, dry jar or vacuum sealer pouch and seal tightly.
Oven Drying Method
Use Your Home Oven to Dry Oregano
Oregano can be dried in the oven at the lowest temperature, or, if you have a gas stove with a pilot light, spread out on cookie sheets lined with parchment paper in a single layer.
Special Note: If using cookie sheets to dry the herbs, place the herbs to be dried on parchment paper to avoid direct contact with the metal trays. Metal contact darkens the color of the herb being dried, causing the Basil to loose its bright green color.
- Salad Spinner or two clean kitchen towels
- Kitchen shears or good chopping knife
- Chopping board or block
- Parchment Paper
- Cookie Sheet
- Wash and gently spin dry the fresh Oregano sprigs or blot with kitchen towels until most moisture is soaked up.
- Pick out the discolored leaves and woody stems.
- Preheat your oven to lowest temperature setting.
- Strip the leaves off of the woody stems and chop or clip herbs into 1/4" pieces or so onto parchment lined cookie sheet. The leave can also be left whole and spread out in a single layer on the parchment paper.
- Place in the oven on evenly spaced racks for 30 minutes or so. Check the progress of the drying every 15 minutes or so afterwards until the leaves crumble easily between your fingers. Drying times may vary according climate conditions and relative humidity.
- Gather up the parchment paper into a funnel and place smallest end over the mouth of a clean, completely dry jar and seal tightly.
Solar Drying Oregano
Using the Sun to Dry Your Oregano Harvest
Using the sun to dry herbs is the time honored technique used for centuries to preserve them for use after the seasonal harvest. The easiest way is to gather loose bundles as discussed earlier and hang from portable racks or clothes line stretched between trees in a sunny spot. Trays made from wood and/or screen lined with cheesecloth, parchment paper or wax paper are also a common way to dry large amounts of leaves at a time. Do not, however, expose the Oregano to galvanized or aluminum screening, as the aluminum and galvanization chemicals can leach onto your drying herbs and pollute the outcome. If this type of screen is used, make sure you line the screen with cheese cloth first. Covering the screens is recommended with either another screen or more loosely draped cheese cloth. This helps prevent unwanted insects, birds and the wind from disturbing the herbs as they dry. The major drawback to this method is that you are completely at the mercy of the weather. In the event that the weather turns, a sheet of plastic can be draped over the trays during the rain, but must be removed as soon as possible before the sun hits the trays to keep moisture from building up under the plastic, causing mold or mildew. Add another day for every rainy day to the total drying time. If the weather turns bad for an extended period, either moving the trays to a warm, dry place or finishing the drying process in your oven are preferred.
- Wooden trays or screens
- Cheese cloth, wax or parchment paper
- Freshly harvested Oregano Sprigs
- Blocks to separate trays for air filtration
- Prepare each tray by lining with cheese cloth, wax or parchment paper.
- Spread the Oregano sprigs or groomed leaves onto the trays in an even single layer and cover. If the trays are stacked, use the blocks to separate them at least 3" apart to allow for proper air filtration.
- Place trays in a sunny location to dry. Make sure that the weather forecast predicts 3 or 4 days of dry, hot weather with daytime temperatures in the 90s f.
- Check the screens or trays at least twice a day to make sure that the leaves are getting dry. If you have stacked the trays, rotating them from top to bottom helps speed up the drying time.
- When the leaves feel dry and flake easily, the Oregano is ready to store.
- Leave the leaves whole or Crumble the dried Oregano onto wax or parchment paper. Gather two corners of the paper to form a funnel and pour the herbs into a clean, dry jar or a vacuum sealer pouch and seal tightly.
These air tight jars and pouches can be stored in a dry, dark place such as your pantry or cupboard, or even your freezer, with proper care.
Dried Oregano can be used in sauces, gravies, dressings and all other recipes that require fresh Oregano.