Oregano adds an aromatic note to numerous dishes. Here are tips on harvesting and preserving the popular spicy herb.
To enjoy the spicy aroma of oregano to the fullest, there are a few things to keep in mind when harvesting. Especially in the Mediterranean cuisine in the preparation of pizza and pasta dishes, the popular herb is an indispensable ingredient. The native wild form of oregano (Origanum vulgare) is also called wild marjoram. The seasoning and medicinal herb can be grown both in a herb bed and in a pot on the balcony or terrace. Ideal are a sunny location and a well-drained, nutrient-poor substrate.
When and how to harvest oregano properly?
If you want to use oregano fresh, you can harvest the shoots and leaves continuously during the growing season from spring to fall. It is best to cut off individual shoot tips with scissors or, if you only need individual leaflets, strip them from the stems. The best time to harvest during the day is in the morning, when the plants are dry. Be careful, because the herb is very sensitive to pressure: pressure points quickly lead to browning of the leaves, which then lose their aroma.
If larger quantities are needed, for example, to dry oregano, you should wait until the herb is in bloom. This is because at full bloom, oregano has stored the most ingredients and has the strongest seasoning power. This is usually the case in July/August. It is best to cut the shoots a hand’s width above the ground. After the flowering period, you should no longer carry out radical pruning, so that the perennial plants survive the winter well.
How to dry oregano properly?
Drying oregano is the best way to preserve the seasoning herb for a long time. To do this, loosely tie the shoots you cut at flowering time in small bunches and hang them upside down in a dark, dry and airy place. Before you do this, remove any yellowed, dirty or diseased parts of the plant. When the leaves rustle between your fingers and the stems of oregano break when bent, the culinary herb is dry enough to be stored. Before that, it is advisable to strip the leaves and flowers from the stems or to rub them. For storage, airtight tins or jars with a screw cap are suitable. Dried oregano can be kept for up to one year, after which it loses its flavor considerably. Before brewing as a tea or using as a spice, simply grind the dried herb or use a mortar.
How to pickle oregano?
To preserve the characteristic aroma of oregano, pickling in oil has also proven successful. To do this, you will need about three to four shoots of oregano, 500 milliliters of high-quality extra virgin olive oil and a clean resealable bottle. Put the washed and dabbed dry stems into the bottle and fill it up with the vegetable oil. It is important that all the shoots and leaves are covered with oil. Close the bottle and let the oil infuse in a cool and dark place for two to three weeks. Afterwards, simply strain the plant parts and pour the oil into a clean bottle for storage. In a dark and cool place, the homemade oregano oil will keep for about six months.
Can you freeze oregano?
Freezing oregano is less recommended, but nevertheless a possible method of preservation if you can not use the freshly harvested leaves directly. To do this, strip the leaves from the branches and place in portions in ice cube trays or small freezer bags. Depending on your needs, the frozen oregano can simply be taken out of the freezer and used for cooking.
Store oregano for a short time
Freshly harvested shoots of oregano can be briefly placed in a container with water or wrapped in damp cloths and placed in the refrigerator. Before preparation, the herb should be rinsed only briefly and shaken dry. Most oregano varieties develop their aroma best when cooked: Therefore, it is recommended to cook the shoots for the last 15 minutes of the preparation time. After cooking, the stems can simply be removed again.