There has been a subtle but sure shift in the trending tastes of the world, and herbs are finally receiving the attention and popularity they deserve. From being considered an exotic to now being used in everyday cooking, many herbs have made the successful transition from rarely used to common house herbs. Oregano is one of these herbs.
Popular because of its use in pizzas and other typically Italian dishes, oregano has made its way into Western cooking. Available all year round, with its strong scent and taste, is also used in soups and stocks. It tastes slightly bitter and earthy, with a hint of mint, oregano is related to it. It was originally grown in the Mediterranean regions, although it is now possible to grow your very own at home to have a ready supply whenever you need it.
How to do it at home
As fresh oregano often overpowers the dish we use it in and makes the dish, be it soup or pasta, taste more bitter if overused, dried oregano is preferred as the safer option, also because of its ease of use over fresh.
Oregano drying can be done in several easy ways, the first of which is to separate the leaves from the stem and leave them to dry separately. Alternatively, the leaves and stems can be dried together and once dry, we can crush the leaves off the stem.
This method involves tying up several oregano stems together and hanging them in a dark place free of moisture. This could include an indoor clothing line or hook. We can tie a bag around the bunch to stop dust settling on the leaves and to collect dried pieces of leaves that may otherwise be wasted. In around 2 to 3 weeks, the bunch can be retrieved and the leaves and stem separated, crushed and stored.
We can also use a food dehydrator
Another method of drying oregano is to place the stems on food dehydrator trays in a unit layer or leave them on ordinary trays in a warm room for a number of days to make sure they become completely dry.
During this time period, the stems need to be evenly turned occasionally to allow both sides to dry fully. When this is done, we can separate the leaves from the stems by holding the stems and pulling through them upwards to let the leaves fall off. This doesn’t need much effort and is done easily.
After we do this, the stems may be of no further use, although they can be utilized in further ways. For instance, they can be added to meat when it is being smoked to add an exotic and herbaceous flavor to it. Besides this, the stems are also useful if need to scent an area, and can be tossed in a fire to release their aroma.
Drying it in the oven
Another simple method is to remove the moist and water by putting it in the oven. The oven needs to be preheated to 170`F for around 5 or 10 minutes, and the oregano needs to be sprinkled with water before being set on the tray to reduce the risk of it burning.
This method is slightly risky as the oregano may lose flavor if kept for too long and needs to be attended carefully but it is the fastest way to dehydrate it if you need some on hand in a relatively short time.
The oregano needs to be spread out on the tray and left in the center rack of the oven for an hour. When taken out of the oven, it needs to be left to cool for approximately 20 minutes before being used.
After drying oregano in the oven, it needs to be stored effectively to make it last longer. If we store it properly can last a whopping 6 months, losing none of its original taste and flavor. If we crush it, is best stored in an airtight container, be it a glass jar or a plastic container, although glass is the most preferable option as it makes sure that it doesn’t get contaminated with chemicals that may be released by the plastic when in contact with bright sunlight. The oregano needs to be stored in a dark and dry place to keep it intact for longer.