Did you grow or buy some oregano stalks or leaves at the market but don't know what to do next? This article is here to help! Start by washing the herb in cold water and then drying it to optimize texture and flavor. The specific method depends on a few factors, such as available time. Anyway, the most important thing is to keep an eye out for the plant not to end up burnt and tasteless. Read below and find out more.
Method 1 of 5: Preparing the oregano
Step 1. Remove dry or dark leaves from the stem
Place the oregano stalks on the kitchen counter and take a good look at them for stains or dried leaves. Remove these parts with scissors (pruning or kitchen), a small knife or by hand and discard immediately afterwards.
Also remove any leaves that are a different color from the others. The oregano should be bright green when you dry the herb
Leaves that are already dry will eventually die before you finish drying the rest of the herb. They don't have a pleasant taste as they didn't absorb as much moisture when the oregano was growing.
Step 2. Rinse the oregano under cold running water
Place a colander in the sink to contain the falling leaves. Then rinse the herb in cold water for 10 to 15 seconds. If you have already removed the leaves from the stem, put them directly in the drainer and do the normal washing. You don't need to do this removal to dry the oregano.
- You don't have to wash the sheets if you bought the oregano packaged and washed. In this case, it is even better not to do this, as the drying process will take even longer.
- Wash the oregano stem if it is dirty or has pest bite marks.
Step 3. Shake the oregano and place the herb on a sheet of paper towel afterwards
Turn off the faucet and shake the oregano gently to remove the rest of the water. Then dry the herb with sheets of paper towels to absorb moisture from the surface.
Tie the oregano stalks with some string and hang it from a hanger or clothesline for the herb to dry. Wait between six and 12 hours before using another method
Method 2 of 5: Hanging the Oregano to Dry
Step 1. Gather the oregano into groups of two to four stems and place each one in a small paper bag
Punch 10 to 15 small holes in each side of this bag with a fork, knife, or pen, and place it aside on the counter. Then, gather the oregano stems in groups and store inside the bag, leaving 7, 5 to 10 cm of grass on the outside.
- This method is time-consuming, but it is also the most traditional method of drying oregano without affecting the taste.
- The paper bag will protect the sheets from dirt particles. You can skip this step if you plan to store the herb in a ventilated place.
- Some people prefer to make the holes in the base of the paper bag and run the oregano stalks through them. Thus, the sheets are exposed on the open side of the material.
Add between two and four stems of oregano to each bag, unless you want to dry a large amount of herb to use over the months. The leaves of these smaller groups are enough to season simple recipes on a daily basis.
Step 2. Tie the stems with string
Cut a 6 to 30 cm piece of string and pass it along the base of the stems and bag, just below the leaves. Make it two or three turns and pull the material well, before tying it in a tight knot.
- You can use a longer piece of string, between 90 and 110 cm, to hang a bag of oregano without having to cut more of the material.
- Use regular string, culinary string or any other such material. Even rubbers serve as a last resort!
Step 3. Hang the oregano stalks from doorknobs, hooks or even the clothesline with string
Cut a two to three feet piece of material and tie it to the end of the bag with a simple knot. Then hang everything from some raised structure in a dry, ventilated area.
- Just don't hang the oregano in the kitchen! The smell of anything you cook in the area will permeate its leaves.
- You can also use a paper clip: unfold it, pass half of it between the pieces of string, and clip the bottom half into the material. Then just use the top half to hold everything.
Step 4. Let the oregano dry for two to six weeks
The method in this section is rather time-consuming. The oregano will be dry in two to six weeks, but the period can be longer or shorter - it all depends on how wet the leaves were at the beginning, the level of humidity in the environment and the natural airflow in your home. Start looking at the herb every two or three after a week or two and see how it looks.
- Dried oregano will take on a faded green color and fade to the touch. If you want to test the herb for drying, pick a single leaf and store it in a canning jar. It will be dry if moisture does not condense inside the pot.
- Store dry oregano in an airtight container.
Method 3 of 5: Using a Traditional Dehydrator
Step 1. Buy an herbal dehydrator
This type of equipment consists of two plastic or metal trays that are one on top of the other. Buy it at any household goods store, but choose one that has a screen saver.
This method is much faster than the previous one, but you have to remove the leaves from the oregano stems first
Step 2. Distribute the oregano between the dehydrator trays and assemble the equipment
Cut the sheets with scissors and distribute them in the lower tray. Leave a space of 2, 5 to 5 cm between each one. When finished, place the top tray on top.
If the dehydrator doesn't have a protection screen, improvise by putting some kind of barrier under the leaves in the lower tray and also on top of the upper tray
You don't need to cut leaves if your herb dehydrator is big. The problem is that this type of equipment can be expensive.
Step 3. Leave the dehydrator in a ventilated area at room temperature
If possible, turn on a fan at the lowest power and do not place the equipment near the window or in the sun. Bright light ends up affecting the oregano's color and natural oils.
Put the oregano to dry in the pantry or other cool place
Step 4. Let the oregano dry for at least a week
Take a look and see how the leaves are every day. The process usually takes between four and seven days, but it can take longer depending on the environmental conditions. Finally, remove the leaves from the dehydrator and store in an airtight container.
- If the whole oregano has dried, just remove the leaves by hand now.
- Oregano leaves take on a faded green hue and fade to the touch when dry. You can do the following test: place a leaf in a preserving jar for 15 minutes and see if moisture condenses inside it. If it doesn't happen, it's because the grass has dried up.
Method 4 of 5: Using an Electric Dehydrator
Step 1. Arrange the oregano stalks in a single layer on the dehydrator trays
Cut the oregano leaves with scissors or knife or by hand and arrange the herb in separate trays in the dehydrator, leaving 2, 5 and 5 cm apart. The advantage of the electric dehydrator is that it has several trays and thus speeds up the process.
- This method is faster than letting the oregano dry naturally, but you'll need an electric dehydrator (which can be expensive).
- You don't need to take the leaves off the oregano stems if your dehydrator is big and spacious.
Step 2. Preheat the dehydrator to 40°C
Turn on the dehydrator and increase its temperature to between 38 and 40 °C. This takes five to ten minutes.
- Place the dehydrator at the lowest possible humidity level.
- Bring the dehydrator to 50 °C if the weather is hot and humid.
Step 3. Place trays in dehydrator
Put on kitchen gloves after preheating the dehydrator and open its door. Then put each tray with the oregano in its proper place and close the equipment again.
Do not stir the oregano leaves when replacing the trays in the dehydrator
Step 4. Wait one to four hours
That's how long it takes for the oregano to dry completely, but it all depends on a few factors. Open the dehydrator after an hour and take a look at the leaves. They will be ready if they have taken on a dark, slightly withered color and fall apart on touch. If not, close the door again and wait for one to three hours, always checking this once in a while.
- Check the oregano every 20 minutes after the first hour to see if the leaves are not burning.
- Allow the oregano to cool for 20 minutes before storing everything in an airtight container.
The oregano is probably scorching if it starts to smell of burning. In that case, turn off the dehydrator and remove the trays with the kitchen glove to cool the leaves.
Method 5 of 5: Heating Oregano in the Oven
Step 1. Preheat the oven to 75°C
Put the middle tray in the oven and close the door. Then raise the temperature to 75 °C and wait between five and ten minutes.
This is the fastest method, but the riskiest (since the oregano can end up burnt and tasteless). Still, follow the tips below when you're out of time
You do not need to place the oregano on a paper towel after washing if using this method. In this case, moisture even helps to preserve the leaves.
Step 2. Distribute the oregano on a clean, dry baking sheet
Place the oregano leaves evenly spaced on a baking sheet. Place the stems parallel to each other or, in the case of the individual leaves, distribute them all 2.5 cm apart from each other.
You can dry the oregano with the stems or just the leaves
Step 3. Bake the oregano for an hour on the middle shelf of the oven
After preparing the middle shelf of the oven, place the baking sheet on it, close the door and wait for the oregano to start to dry. This takes about an hour.
- The process can take a little over an hour, but it will be faster if you have the stems in the pan.
- Don't spend much of an hour. Otherwise, the oregano will lose most of its flavor and oils.
Step 4. Take the baking sheet out of the oven and let the oregano cool for ten to 20 minutes
Place the baking sheet on the counter and wait between ten and 20 minutes before transferring the oregano to an airtight container.
- You can use oregano in much more than pizza: season eggs, potatoes, salads, soups, pork and so on.
- The stem of oregano is inedible, but you can burn this part of the vegetable to create a natural incense.