Oregano is a famous herb that’s a staple in most kitchens across the globe. The herb has a pungent smell and comes packed with incredible flavor that can give your dish the punch it needs. Whether fresh or dried, oregano is a key ingredient in many dishes such as salads, pizza, and pasta. That’s why it comes as no surprise that oregano is one of the most popular herbs for gardeners to grow, both indoors and out. Here’s what you need to know about how to harvest oregano properly to make sure that you keep it at peak flavor and freshness.
Basic Oregano Care
Growing oregano in your home or yard is a relatively easy task to undertake. Oregano has a Mediterranean origin and needs to be planted in an area with plenty of sunlight. Moreover, the soil needs to have good drainage as oregano will not be able to grow correctly in overly wet soil.
For indoor planting, any size container will do along with most commercial potting soils. Place it in a sunny spot, and water as the soil begins to dry out.
After determining the best spot to plant the seed, sow seeds on top of the soil. You’ll have to water the plant well initially, but will usually need to cut back on water once the plant germinates. Remember to put it under a spot with lots of sunlight as oregano only germinates in warm soil. You can also start with a seedling which will speed up the process.
In general, oregano will be ready to harvest about 8 weeks after germination. If starting with a seedling, this time will likely be lower.
Harvesting oregano is easy, but the following tips will ensure you do it in the best possible way to preserve flavor and prevent damage to your plant.
When Should You Harvest Oregano?
The best time to harvest Oregano is right before it begins to flower. At this time, the plant is at its peak flavor and is perfect to harvest. This generally takes place in late spring or early summer, but can be later depending on when you planted your herb.
That said, you don’t need to wait to harvest your oregano. You can do so at almost any time, cutting what you’ll use and leaving the rest of the plant to continue to grow. As long as you leave about ⅔ of the plant it should continue to grow without issue after a harvest.
The big thing you’ll want to watch out for is when the plant begins to flower or bolt. Once this happens, the plant will begin to taste bitter and lose its classic flavor. Bolting tends to occur in later summer when the temperature is warmer, so many gardeners will try to harvest early to get as much usable herb as possible.
What You Need
Harvesting oregano is easy. You don’t need to use any complicated tools. You can use a garden shear if you own one, or you can even make do with household scissors, as the latter will be more than enough. Try to harvest the leaves in the early hours of the day, right after any morning dew settled on the leaves has dried. The leaves should still have moisture in them at this time and be primed for harvest. Seasoned gardeners recommend this approach as the flavor and essential oils within the leaves are usually at the height of their concentration during this time.
How To Harvest Oregano
Use shears or scissors to cut the herb right above a growth node. Make sure that the plant looks healthy and green when you harvest. Doing so, will ensure that your oregano produces more flavorful leaves the next time they grow from that branch. Harvesting a weak plant can lead to stunted growth and lack of future harvests.
Fresh vs. Dried Oregano
After harvesting, you’ll typically either use the oregano immediately or dry it for future use. Both options are perfectly fine, and it often comes down to taste preference. Fresh oregano maintains the most flavor, while dried oregano is typically a bit more mild. Dried oregano also stores longer, so it’s also good if you harvest more oregano than you can use within a day or two.
Using Fresh Oregano
Fresh oregano herbs tend to perish quickly, that’s why it’s mostly recommended to cut only as much as you need. You’ll want to use your fresh oregano immediately after harvest, as this will be when it’s at its peak flavor. It will tend to lose flavor the further away from harvest your get.
How To Dry Oregano Herbs
If you’re planning on drying the herbs, you can be generous in the amount you cut from the plant. Dried oregano stores much better, and can last for several years after harvest.
If you’re thinking of going in the more traditional route, find a room with good air circulation and lots of direct sunlight. Use a rubber band to split the stems into small bunches, keeping a maximum of ten to twelve stems in a single batch. After that, hang the bunch from a hook or rope in a warm, sunny location in your home.
Viola! You’re done. Your oregano will be thoroughly dried and ready to use after four to six weeks, depending on the local temperature and humidity. In this state, you can store the oregano for about 2-4 years and still get a decent amount of flavor out of it.
You can also dry oregano by placing it in your oven for a few hours on low heat, about 200°F. This is faster, but some will claim that it reduces the flavor more than air drying. Try both out, and see which one you prefer the taste of.
How To Harvest Oregano
Oregano is an excellent, easy to grow herb that is a culinary staple in many dishes. The herb itself is easy to grow, and with the tips above you’ll be able to harvest and store it successfully. Whether you prefer it dry or fresh, oregano is sure to add some flavor to your meals.
Oregano Harvesting FAQs
Can I Dry Oregano Through an Oven?
Yes, you can dry oregano stems in your oven. Put the stems on a baking tray and heat the oven at 200°F and leave the door slightly open to promote good air circulation. This will take about 2 hours.
Will The Plant Regrow After I’ve Harvested It?
Oregano is exceptionally prolific. The plant can quickly grow back even if you cut it down to the ground. Unless you plan on prying the plant out of the land, you have nothing to worry about and it will happily regrow after a harvest. It is generally good practice to only harvest about ⅓ of the plant at any given time to promote optimal growth.
Do Fresh and Dried Oregano Taste Different?
While they have the same flavor, fresh oregano will typically be more intense than dried. Dried oregano is good when you want those subtle undertones of flavor, but don’t want it to be the centerpiece of the dish.