Learn how to dry oregano in the oven!
Having fresh oregano on hand is a great way to add a pop of flavor to every dish. However, even the best-tended herb plants don’t last forever, and sometimes your oregano isn’t in season. Or you have a harvest bounty and know you won’t use the oregano in time. What to do?
To ensure a year-round supply of home-grown oregano, the best thing you can do is preserve it by drying oregano in the oven. Dried oregano lasts much longer than fresh oregano but still has that earthy, herby aroma. Plus, you don’t need specialized equipment, just your oven.
SEE ALSO: Health Benefits of Dried Oregano
Here is an easy guide to drying oregano in the oven. The great news is once you master this process, you can dry almost any herb in the oven using the same method.
How To Dry Oregano in the Oven
Here is a quick overview of how to dry oregano in the oven:
- Harvest the oregano, wash the herb and let it dry.
- Preheat the oven, setting the oven at 180–200 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the lower you can set it, the better.
- Arrange your oregano on a baking sheet and leave the leaves in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
- After 10-15 minutes, turn the heat off but leave the oregano in the oven until totally cooled (wait about 30 minutes).
- Let the oregano cool to the touch.
- Store your homemade dried oregano in an airtight container.
Let’s take a look at each step.
Preparing Oregano for Drying
You can’t just chuck oregano in the oven after harvesting and check on it later. For best results, you need to carefully prepare the herbs beforehand.
- Obviously, the first step is to harvest the oregano. Remove it from the plant and keep it in stalks.
- Then, you need to clean the oregano. Most people recommend washing store-bought oregano because you don’t know if there are any chemicals on it. Run it under cold running water.
- If you wind up washing your oregano, you will need to dry it once before putting it into the oven to dry completely. You can either pat it dry with a towel, place it in a salad spinner, or let it air dry overnight. Obviously, this adds to your preparation time, but you want your oregano to be as fresh and dry as possible.
If you grew your own oregano and know you didn’t use any pesticides, or if you trust your producer, you don’t need to wash the oregano in water. In that case, just shake off any dirt and pinch off any dull or dry stems.
You don’t have to take the oregano leaves off the stems. Drying the oregano while it is still on the stems is preferable.
Drying Oregano in the Oven
Next, you will actually begin drying oregano in the oven.
- The first step is to preheat the oven. Most people recommend setting the oven at 180–200 degrees Fahrenheit. However, the lower you can set it, the better, as you don’t want to run the risk of accidentally burning your oregano.
- Then, arrange your oregano on a baking sheet. Line the baking sheet with parchment paper to prevent a mess and make cleanup easy, although you can also put the stems directly on the baking sheet if you’re trying to avoid using parchment paper.
- Then, put the baking sheets in the oven. How long the oregano will take to dry depends a lot on your oven and how high the temperature is, but low and slow is preferable to raising the temperature and accidentally burning your herbs.
- Leave the leaves in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Every 5 minutes, stir or flip the leaves for even drying. After 10-15 minutes, turn the heat off but leave the oregano in the oven until totally cooled (wait about 30 minutes).
You can do a few things to speed up the process, such as turning the fan on if you have a convection oven or cracking open the oven door if you do not. The circulating air makes the oregano dry faster.
Make sure to regularly check on your oregano and turn the trays around so the herbs dry evenly. When the leaves are dry and crumbly to the touch, you’ll know that the oregano is ready.
Storing Dried Oregano
Once your oregano is dried out in the oven, it’s time to figure out how to store it.
- First, let the oregano cool to the touch. You will be handling the herbs so that you can separate the leaves from the stem, and you don’t want to hurt yourself.
- Then, take the stems in your hand and manually strip the leaves off into a bowl. Then, crush the herbs into smaller pieces using your hands or a mortar and pestle.
An optional additional step is to cure the oregano, which helps it last longer. Put the herbs in an airtight container, then open it for an hour a day to let some air flow inside. After a week, the oregano will be cured, which prevents mold and bacteria growth.
- Store your homemade dried oregano in an airtight container, such as a spice jar, and put it in a cool, dry place. Dried oregano doesn’t go bad (especially if it’s been cured), but it does lose some of its potency within six months, so be careful with letting it sit for too long.
Drying your own oregano is a great way to have herby flavors for the rest of the year, and it doesn’t require a lot of effort. You just need to clean your oregano, arrange it on a baking sheet, and dry it at a low temperature. Then you’ll have great herbs for pasta sauces, pizza toppings, earthy stews, and so much more.