Drying Herbs: Oregano

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.

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27 Responses to Drying Herbs: Oregano

  1. Phoebe says:

    Mmmm I love oregano. In the very mountainous Greek islands, honey is produced from wild oregano and thyme flowers (you know what I mean – the bees do it). It has an unusual taste that is very very delicious!

  2. Leanne says:

    I have so much oregano growing at the moment, I should do the same. Some one showed me recently how to do it in the microwave, I must see if I can do that.

  3. We have a small kitchen too but it makes for easier cleaning. I’ve never quite got round to drying herbs maybe one day!

    • Liz says:

      I have to say I just did it one year and haven’t looked back – remarkably low maintainence. Dry them, store them none of this standing at the stove stirring like other methods of preserving.

  4. Robin says:

    I dry a lot of herbs. Some I hang and others are done in the oven on the convection setting. I could never let them hang around the kitchen as they would get too dusty! I put mine in jars as you do and store them in the cupboard out of the light.

    Does anyone have a kitchen that’s big enough??

    • Liz says:

      You’re right I know you’re right, even if I did have a kitchen that was big enough I probably wouldn’t realise it….I suspect kitchen space is like money – I’d always use any I had.

  5. Becky says:

    I have dried them hung in the kitchen but since we live on a dirt road we have found that dusty herbs really aren’t to our liking. I dry mine in the dehydrator. Doesn’t take long.

  6. I am so, so envious of your lovely bunch of oregano-one of my favourite herbs. When I was a student and lived in Paris I used to love visiting friends who lived down near Aix en Provence. We would go out into the hills and pick huge bunches of fresh herbs which I used to cart back to Paris on the train and then hang up all around my very tiny bedsit. Frequently knocking into the drying hanging bunches resulted in heavenly smells… Your lovely photo took me straight back there…

  7. Norma Chang says:

    I do not dry my oregano, don’t know why I never thought of doing so, I do freeze but then the small package get lost in the freezer. Drying is the better way, shall do so this year.

  8. Bee Girl says:

    I, too, dream of a large kitchen with herbs drying everywhere! Someday we will both have our dream! Thanks for the oregano tips! I have been unsuccessful at growing it so far, but am trying again this year! I am determined to grow several herbs!

    • Liz says:

      I am a fan of herbs, but not a fan of the supermarket packet ones so they are usually the first things i plan for when working out the layout in the garden. I hope yours go well.

  9. Mark Willis says:

    I have tried drying home-grown Oregano a couple of times, but it always seemed too bland in comparison with the shop-bought (Mediterranean-grown) stuff. I think our climate here means that it seldom gets warm enough forthe Oregano to develop a strong taste. I bought some wonderful dried Oregano at Masterchef Live a few weeks ago, which is lovely sprinked over a Greek Salad, or simply added to some olive oil for dipping.

    • Liz says:

      I like the oregano I grow but i suspect if I bought some that was grown in the sun the experience would be different. I must actually do that and compare. Ooooh about time I made a Greek salad – I’m thinking lunch tomorrow.

  10. Lrong says:

    Compared to oregano, we use sweet marjoram more for our cooking… think the sweet marjoram has a more delicate flavour…

    • Liz says:

      That’s interesting i was thinking of putting in a plant but wasn’t sure if there would be sufficient flavour difference to justify it.

  11. kitsapFG says:

    I don’t dry my herbs much anymore as they generally are harvestable year round and I prefer them fresh. I really need to freshen up my herb pots though as the plants are looking tired. It may be time to replace the soil and/or start out with some young fresh plants.

  12. Andrea says:

    I dry my herbs in large paper shopping bags in an old dairy (nice and cool) also hung with drying lettuce plants, poppys, silverbeet, larkspurs and what ever else is going to seed. The seeds fall into the bottom of the bags, woops back to oregano yes i harvested mine last week and today i picked some fresh(recipe required)for pickles.

  13. kallie says:

    I’ve heard of putting them in the oven on broil but I prefer to leave mine on a paper plate and let them dry out on their own. It takes about 2-4 weeks to make sure they are good to go. It works just as well as hanging and plus I can cover them up. xx

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