When it comes to tasty and practical herbs, few can match the quality of oregano. Called the “joy of the mountain” by the Greeks, it is undoubtedly one of the world’s most popular herbs.
It is tasty with its bitter yet spicy flavor that you can match with almost any preparation. This includes anything from meats to salads and even soups – it works wonders on anything.
But despite being so popular and so practical, oregano is not easy to find. That’s why we recommend learning how to harvest oregano and dry it up.
Why Grow Oregano?
Not many people know why oregano is such an exciting plant to grow. Here, we want to teach you exactly that. Here are a few reasons to consider:
- Sturdy & Fast Growing
When it comes to low-maintenance herbs, few can match oregano’s ability to grow in almost any place if the conditions are decent. And what’s even better, it grows in less than a year to a full-grown plant you can use.
- Easy to Use & Practical
On top of that, it is a fantastic herb. It works with any food and requires little to no preparation. Just dry it up or use fresh, and it will work wonders either way.
Some people use it with their meats. Others prefer using oregano with soups and creams. However you use it, you won’t have to make any effort to make it work.
- Tasty & Versatile
There are two types of oregano to consider. One is the Mediterranean oregano. It is the most common one, part of the mint family. In contrast, the Mexican oregano is more of a lemon verbena plant. As such, one has more of a minty flavor, and the other is slightly more acidic.
- Durable & Resilient
Both types of oregano are perennial. Either way, it lasts a long time, often up to a decade. If you trim it down, oregano grows back every year without problems.
It is important to note that after 4 to 5 years, oregano leaves start losing their potency. While the flavor is still there, it won’t be strong as when the plant is young.
Benefits of Drying Oregano
Now that you know the importance of growing oregano, why should you dry it up? Well, there are many reasons to do so – here are some:
- Stronger Fragrance & Taste
If oregano smells and tastes fantastic when fresh, it all multiplies exponentially when dry. If stored properly, the leaves will grow tangy and spicy to the point of being impossible to dismiss.
- Easier to Use
While fresh oregano works better with creams, soups, and salads, dry oregano works with almost anything. You can use it with meats as a seasoning, with pizzas, over sandwiches, and just whatever.
- Higher Durability
Want your oregano to last? Then dry it up. Fresh oregano will eventually turn gray and unusable if you don’t dry it up. This will ultimately eliminate its desirable properties, making it a no-no for food usage in weeks.
As you can see, there’s a lot to get from oregano, either fresh or dry. As so, let’s give you a heads up on how to grow it!
How to Grow Oregano?
Growing oregano is a no-brainer. But even then, you’ll have to follow a few steps to do it properly. Otherwise, you may end up with an herb that doesn’t grow to the tasty and pungent plant you want. Here’s how to do it right:
- Plant It in the Right Season
Oregano comes back every spring. Starting to grow it in a way that it sprouts by fall is always the best idea. It is typically recommended to plant the seeds one month before the last frost in winter.
- Use a Container First
Apart from that, you can make it work in spaces as little as 10 inches in diameter. And if that wasn’t enough, it is a worthwhile companion plant, so it grows healthily alongside other herbs, veggies, or fruit plants.
- Ensure Proper Conditions
Even though oregano is pretty tough, it needs ideal sun exposure (full day if possible), warmth, and constant water in well-drained soil. It is not a dry or cold herb. You should make sure it grows in soils of no less than 70 degrees and no more than 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Oregano is nothing of a problem as long as you plant it right. Then, you only need to wait a few weeks until it starts to sprout into a beautiful smelly and tasty herb.
How to Cut Oregano?
If you planted and grew oregano right, sooner or later, it will be time to harvest it. Below, we tell you how to do it without fuss:
- Cut at Right Time
It is advised to cut oregano when it is 4 inches tall, at least. You only need to cut about 2/3 of the leaves. But it is essential to do it before flowers start to grow, as flowers begin to consume some of the nutrients and take away the herb’s smell & taste.
Typically, harvesting oregano by June is the way to go. It will be ready to be used fresh or put to dry later on.
- Trim the Oregano
Once you cut the oregano, you may need to trim it down to keep growing well. We typically advise people to prune until there are no less than 2 inches of the plant. Otherwise, you may end up killing it.
This is especially true if the oregano is young. You won’t like to kill it up when there are so many years left to enjoy the plant.
- Only Harvest the Leaves
When cutting the oregano, it’s heavily recommended only to cut the leaves off. Don’t cut the whole plant from the bottom unless necessary. The leaves are what you’ll later use for drying or cooking. Leave the stems behind.
How to Dry Oregano?
Once you’ve harvested the herb, then you can proceed to leave it to dry. This process is reasonably straightforward, as well. However, there are two methods to follow. Below, we explain to them both.
- Hanging Method
As simple as it sounds, you only need to leave the oregano to dry. But first, you’ll have to prepare it, so the herb dries up perfectly. Here’s a brief guide on how to do so:
1. You can only air-dry oregano that’s cut from the stem. For the job, you should cut about 5 inches of oregano stems.
2. Once you have the stems ready, you can pass them through the water. Submerge the stems for a few seconds in the water, so the dirtiness and dead leaves fall off.
3. Patch the bunch dry for a bit. Then leave it to dry for about 2 hours. This will prevent any mold from growing later on.
4. Here, we recommend making a small bunch and tie it up with wool thread or strand. You should use about 4 to 8 stems per bunch. This will help you hang them more easily.
5. Then proceed to tie up the other end of the wool in a place where it receives a sufficient amount of sun and little humidity.
6. Now, you should leave them to dry for weeks. If the place is too humid, then leave them to dry for 3 weeks. Otherwise, 2 weeks is more than enough.
7. When the oregano is ready, you should feel crisp on the leaves. They also start crumbling into pieces.
- Dehydrator Method
If you don’t have stems to use or don’t want to waste any time, then using a food dehydrator can be an excellent idea. This is even easier than air-drying the oregano. Follow these steps:
1. Prepare the food dehydrator. It should have a timer so you can decide how much time to dry them with.
2. Before drying, wash every leave and stem adequately. The cleaner the herb is, the easier it will be to dry up and prevent unwanted results. Then leave them to dry for about an hour.
3. Once the oregano is dry, and you can place it inside the machine for the dehydration process. Set it for 95 to 100 Fahrenheit and start the dehydration.
4. This process will take a few minutes. Once it’s done, the oregano will be all crispy and ready to be used; however, you prefer.
With the oregano dried up, you only need to store it well so you can later use it with no problem. Below, we’ll teach you how.
How to Store Oregano?
It seems obvious and not much of a problem, and well, it is. But there are certain factors you may not consider storing oregano that will ensure intact taste and smell. Here are some to consider:
- Only Store Leaves
After drying up the herb, you don’t want to store the unwanted hems or flowers. These don’t produce the same smell or taste, which makes them useless.
Instead, strip all the leaves out of the hems and store those only. There’s no need to crush or crumble. The leaves should come right off the hem with a bit of stripping.
- Use Proper Containers
There’s nothing better for oregano than a glass container. While plastic or metal could do the job well, glass contains the smell and flavor well enough for later use. Ceramic and similar materials also do the job well.
You can make oregano with the right container last over 6 months with no problem with the taste or fragrance.
- Store Containers Correctly
Now that you’ve filled the containers with oregano, it is time to store it. How do we recommend doing that? Easy, you find a dry and dark place – that should be the best idea for storing oregano.
Why dry? Because oregano tends to hold a lot of moisture. A humid area could make the oregano harder to use, grow mold, or eventually lose its taste.
And dark because it prevents the oregano from heating up, which could cause it to blob and get bad too fast.
You should be well aware of how to harvest oregano to get the most out of the herb by now.
Properly stored and harvested, oregano can last 6 months or more. And it doesn’t matter how much time it stays stored. It will keep the smell, taste, and unique color that makes it such an excellent herb.
So, did you learn how to get the most out of this fantastic plant? Then don’t hesitate and start growing yourself. You won’t regret it!