Do you have a garden full of oregano? Learn how to dry oregano so you can enjoy that great oregano taste in dishes and meals all year long!
About 7 years ago I planted started a couple oregano plants from seed. That summer I ended up with about 3 quarts of dried oregano.
Fast forward 7 years, my oregano patch has grow exponentially- almost out of control.
I use tons of it for my roasted tomato sauce each summer, but I also dry a lot to use in soups, sauces, and other dishes all winter long while the plant is mostly dormant in the garden.
So how do you dry oregano? It’s super easy- so let’s get started!
A few tips before we begin:
When drying oregano, you want to go from harvest to dry as quickly as possible. Fresh herbs make the best dried herbs.
Harvest your herbs in the sunny part of the day, after the dew has dried.
The best time to harvest oregano for drying is JUST BEFORE it flowers. The taste will be better and you will have an easier time getting the leaves off the plants without flower heads or seeds getting in the way. Here in zone 7, my oregano is green and ready to harvest for drying in late April through May. I harvest it any time during this period, but if you can harvest JUST before it flowers, that’s when the leaves are most flavorful.
Now on to how to dry oregano!
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How to Dry Oregano for Later
There are a couple of different ways you can make dried oregano. Such as:
- In a solar dehydrator
- Hanging (air dry)
- Electric Dehydrator
- In the oven (not recommended)
They each have their pros and cons, but my favorite way to dry oregano is by using an electric dehydrator because it’s a more reliable way to get dried oregano that is uniformly dry in a quicker amount of time.
Hanging and solar dehydrating oregano will depend on the outside conditions- how much sun, humidity, etc. If the correct conditions aren’t there, you may end up with moldy oregano before the herb is completely dry. An oven usually doesn’t stay at a low enough temperature to evenly dry the oregano- and NOT cook it.
Herbs need to be dried at a fairly low temperature. 105F at the MOST or the taste will suffer- just another reason NOT to use your oven.
I have an Excalibur 9 Tray Food Dehydrator that I LOVE and use all summer long, but you can also check out my Dehydrator Buying Guide for other options. This dehydrator is perfect for drying herbs such as calendula, thyme, rosemary, basil, dill and of course oregano!
You need to start with fresh, clean herbs. Since we grow everything organic, we don’t pre-wash, but if your oregano isn’t organic or if it’s been sprayed then you will need to wash it first.
Be sure to pull out any obvious weeds, grass, bugs, or eggs that you see before drying your oregano.
You can dry the leaves individually if you wish, but since the leaves are so easy to remove after drying, this is an unnecessary step. Simply lay your stems of oregano on the dehydrator trays in as close to a single layer as you can.
I don’t bother with separating each stem, oregano dried quickly even if they are still touching. Though if you do it that way you might have to skip every other tray in your dehydrator to make room for the extra height.
Set your dehydrator to 95-105F and close it up.
It should take 4-10 hours depending on how much oregano you are drying, if you left the stems on, and the humidity in your home.
Dried oregano will be completely dry and crispy when it is done. The leaves will be shriveled and the stems completely dry and rigid (no flopping over!).
When it reaches this state, turn off your dehydrator and allow the dried oregano to cool completely.
Now it’s time to remove the stems and store your oregano!
This step of drying oregano can get a little messy! I usually just work right at my dehydrator, placing the stems on the open lid and the leaves in the jar.
Take out a stem or two of dried oregano, gently crush the leaves with your hand. Hard enough to crush the leaves and knock them off the stem but not hard enough to crush the stem.
You can also gently run your hand down the stem to remove the leaves.
I either do this over an open paper bag or a mason jar with my wide mouth canning funnel on top- allowing the leaves to fall, and discarding the stems into another pile.
Keep working until all of your dried oregano leaves have been taken off the stems. Discard the stems and store the leaves!
I store all of my herbs in glass mason jars with standard canning lids. I have found that plastic mason jar lids don’t keep the herbs as air tight as I’d like, so I stick with the metal lids and rings.
Then store your jar in your spice cabinet, cupboard, pantry or other dry, dark location and try to use within a year.
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