Turning your favorite spot in the backyard or the ornamental pots that line your deck or patio into an oregano garden will provide your tomato-based recipes and other savory foods with a bottomless source of that delightfully spicy Mediterranean aroma and flavor. No longer will you have to drive miles to your nearest grocer to buy a few stems of this herb if you feel like whipping up for your family some pasta for dinner. All you need is the few steps that it will take to pick this herb as fresh as you can get from garden plot to cooking pot. But if you consider that oregano is a fast growing herb, there will be times that you will need to pluck from your garden more than what you could cook for your meal. That is why learning how to store oregano after it is harvested is equally important as knowing how to grow it so that you will have ample supply of this aromatic herb anytime, and at any season of the year.
Oregano is best harvested when the leaves have the highest oil content and this is when buds appear but just before it comes to flower. Cut the stems down to the first two or three sets of leaves as soon as the early morning dew on these has dried out, but before the sun’s heat could fritter away the volatile oil that lends the distinctive aroma and flavor to the leaves. How to store oregano after it is harvested is really very simple because there are just about three popular ways to go about it.
The most popular is drying, which concentrates their oil resulting in a stronger flavor than fresh leaves. You may tie the herb in bunches and hang them in a warm, dry, airy spot in your house away from direct sunlight to prevent the growth of mildew on the leaves. Another way is to strip the leaves from the stems and place these in neat rows in stackable screened drying trays. After about seven to ten days, you can already put your dried oregano leaves in a tightly sealed glass jar and store it in your pantry. How to store oregano after it is harvested is not limited to air drying if you are a busy body who does not have the luxury of time. A quick fix in the kitchen oven or a dehydrator, if you have one, will dry your herbs to a crisp in less than 90 minutes.
Freezing provides another popular solution to the problem of how to store oregano. After it is harvested, strip the leaves from the stem and pack these in plastic containers or zip lock bags which are then stored inside the freezer. Alternatively, you may finely chop the leaves and bind these with a little amount of butter or olive oil which you can freeze in ice cube trays. Frozen oregano is more flavorful than dried ones and will keep for 6 months inside the freezer.
The last method that addresses the problem of how to store oregano after it is harvested is by vinegar preservation, which enhances any recipe that calls for the use of vinegar. Add one part bruised oregano leaves to two parts cider, wine or white vinegar in a plastic gallon and let stand for four to six weeks. Strain the mixture and toss a few sprigs to draw out more flavor from the oregano herb. Pour the flavored vinegar in glass jar, seal tightly and store inside a cool dark place like your pantry.