I cut my oregano for drying today. I’ve always imagined myself cooking in a large kitchen with bunches of home grown dried herbs and garlic hanging from the ceiling. Sadly this has yet to eventuate, I seem to have inhabited houses where the kitchen is one of the smallest rooms, a punctuation mark between the bedrooms and living room, or in one case between the living area and bathroom. I do still harbour fantasies that one day this dream kitchen will be mine, and instead of storing my herbs in jars in the cupboard they will hang gloriously from the ceiling. In the meantime I’ll settle for home grown herbs in old Moccona coffee jars nestling up against the other ingloriously stored spices that inhabit my shelves.
My oregano plant is growing in semi-shade (not ideal as it tends to prefer lots of sun) which has put it a good two weeks behind that of a friends who lives in an adjoining suburb. Sun makes such a difference, to flavour as well as speed of ripening. Growing in partial shade means my oregano isn’t as strong as if it was grown in full sun but I am used to it and have adapted quantities when cooking to suit my plant.
In my part of Melbourne oregano is harvest-able year round but I find the best flavour is when they are about to flower in summer, a time when my plant is drastically in need of a trim, hence a readily available source of stalks to dry. I also find I prefer the flavour of dried oregano over fresh in many of dishes I use oregano in.
Drying oregano is as simple as cutting stems from the plant, making a bunch and hanging it in a warm (but not moist) place with good air circulation. Oregano is best when dried as quickly as possible – taking up to about 10 days depending on the weather. Once dry I simply remove the leaves from the stalks and place them in an air tight jar in the pantry. If you have my dream kitchen though feel free to hang them where ever you please, as long as its away from the steam of the stove of course.