Friday, June 15, 2007

Oregano and How to Dry Herbs

My oregano has been sadly neglected since I'm not around to cook with it. Normally I just cut a few sprigs and put it in my pasta sauces. But there was so much.

My colander was overflowing.

So I decided to dry them out. Plus, I used up the last of my oregano when I made carne asada for the Memorial Day barbecue so it was time to replenish my supplies.

If you've never dried herbs before, it's super easy.

You can keep them on the stems if you wish. Wash the herbs and shake them dry. Place them loosely on a baking sheet and pop them in the oven at 150 degrees for about an hour or until the leaves are completely dried out.

They should look like so.

Then strip the dried leaves from the stems. You may need to crumble the leaves a bit in your hands if you want smaller bits.

That huge pile of oregano was reduced to filling my spice jar and part of a sandwich bag.

That's it! So simple right? You can do this with basil, mint, or any other herb you frequently cook with and have growing in your garden.


  1. Great idea! Nothing goes to waste. Hmm wander if I can do the same to mint? I have a whole bag of mint in the fridge and NO blender!

  2. W&S,
    Yup, I said you can do it with mint too. You can trying mashing up mint for mojitos? Or using it in a mango salad? Or the VNese chicken salad? Or a nice steak salad?

  3. This is a good way to dry herbs, but there is a way that preserves even more flavor, if one has the patience. Take the stems with the fresh herbs intact, wash and shake dry (just as you did for the over drying). THEN, take a few clumps of them (say 10 at a time) and tie plain string around the base of the stem. Tape them upside-down (that is, cut stem up, herbs down) with masking tape to the bottom edge of a cupboard. Let them dry naturally. Takes a few days to a week. Be sure they are COMPLETELY dried before removing the herb leaves to store in a bottle. I've tried the oven, as well as one of those stackable food driers (can't remember what they are called!) -- and the upside-down natural air drying technique is by far the most flavorful.

  4. Just an addendum ... I was able to locate a web site that does a better job of explaining this "bunching" technique -- as well as some stuff about non-stemmed herbs which I didn't know, either! Good pix. Happy reading:

  5. Hmm ... never thought of doing that. I will do it now. I know my mother-in-law has an old Tilleul (Tilia) tree in her garden that she dries out the leaves and infuse them for tea whenever she wants them.

  6. Holy cow that's a lot of oregano. I'm glad to know drying herbs is so easy, I'll probably have to dry some thyme at the end of summer. :)

  7. Suzanne,
    Thanks for the additional drying tips. I get too impatient to wait a week for dried herbs. Also, having dried flowers and herbs hanging around is bad feng shui. You don't want dead things hanging around basically.

    Cooking Ninja,
    I've never even heard of a Tilia tree. What does it taste like?

    Hey, we can swap! Oregano for thyme. :)


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