Oregano is one of the few herbs whose aromatic flavors are intensified by drying. If you have oregano plants on the balcony or in the garden where the harvest is very abundant, you can easily dry the cut branches to use them later.
The best time to harvest
The flavor of oregano is most intense before or during flowering. If possible, cut the branches of oregano in the morning without rain, because in the evening hours and rainy days the aroma of the herbs is not very intense.
Preparation for drying
For herbs from your own garden, which are usually neither sprayed nor fertilized regularly, you should refrain from extensive washing before bundling. The moisture remaining on the leaves delays the drying process and the aroma of the herb would suffer. It is enough to shake the branches vigorously after harvesting to free them from loosely adhering dust and garden soil.
If it is necessary to wash the oregano, pre-dry the branches on absorbent household paper. Please do not crush the branches, as any breakage or cut will release the precious essential oils.
Bundle and dry the oregano
Herbs should always be air dried:
- Gather oregano sprigs into loose bundles and tie with twine.
- Hang branches upside down in a warm, wind-protected, dry place.
- Leave enough space between each bundle of herbs; this prevents mold growth.
- The room temperature should not rise above 30 – 35 degrees.
- Ideal places for drying are covered garden sheds or attics that are not too warm.
- You can also dry oregano in the apartment. Bundled with a pretty ribbon, the small bunches of herbs make an attractive room decoration.
- After four to seven days, the oregano is completely dry and can be stored.
Drying oregano in the oven or dehydrator.
Use only adjustable dehydrators that gently remove moisture from the herbs at temperatures between thirty and fifty degrees. Even with faster drying in the dehydrator, higher temperatures destroy the aromatic substances of oregano. Since the dehydrators offer less space the oregano branches must be chopped up a bit before drying.
Oregano drying in the oven
When drying in the oven, be sure to use the lowest possible temperature. Spread the oregano sprigs loosely on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. During the drying process, the oven door should remain open a crack. It has proven effective to wedge a wooden cooking spoon into the door so that it remains slightly open at the top.
When the herb is completely dry, carefully remove the small leaves and flowers from the twigs (rubbed). Store the culinary herb in tightly closing containers made of dark tinted glass or ceramic. This prevents light from reaching the herbs and protects them well from fading and loss of flavor due to oxidation.
Tips & Tricks
Make sure the oregano has seen a day or two of sun before harvesting. This makes it develop particularly many aromatic substances and taste more intense.