Drying oregano: Step-by-step instructions

Today is oregano drying day at the Walliser house. Every May I head out to the garden to harvest fresh oregano sprigs. The timing is crucial because if I cut them too early, the flavor isn’t quite up to snuff, but if I cut them too late, four-lined plant bug damage has marred the beautiful foliage and the flower buds have already developed. Early to mid-May seems to be the perfect time for drying oregano.

Here’s how I go about drying oregano.

First, I head out to the garden with a sharp pair of herb scissors. I gather a large handful of tender, green shoots with my left hand and cut them with my right, making sure the cut ends of the stems all line up. I give the handful of oregano a few quick, brisk shakes to dislodge any insects and debris, then I wrap the base of the stems with a rubber band. I continue this process until I have six or seven bunches. We go through a lot of oregano in the winter, and I never like to run out of homegrown herbs!

Once the bunches are inside, I unfold one paperclip for each bunch and use the paperclip’s “S” as a hook, sliding one end under the rubber band and using the other end to hook the bunch of oregano to its drying location. I extend a piece of jute twine from one side of my kitchen window to the other, fastening it securely to a tea cup hook I installed on each end of the window frame. Then I hang the bunches up on the twine, placing them a good five or six inches apart to allow for good air circulation.

The same drying line also serves to dry thyme, basil, parsley, and other herbs later in the season. If I’m only drying a few bunches of herbs, I’ll hang them directly on the tea cup hooks, rather than installing the jute twine.

My drying oregano is ready in four to six weeks; sometimes sooner if the weather isn’t overly humid. Once they’re fully dried, I cut off the rubber band, separate the dried sprigs, and crush the leaves. I store my crushed oregano in a Mason jar in a dark cupboard.

Are you drying oregano or other herbs this year?

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