In the herb garden, some of the perennial herbs are showing flower buds, which tells me it is time to begin harvesting for drying. Actually, the sage and English Thyme have been flowering for some time now. I just let them flower away, since the bees love them so much. But now the oregano plants are budding up, and I want to dry quite a bit of them for later use. So it time for action!
There are several different ways to dry herbs. One easy way is to tie the stems together in small bunches and hang in a garage, shed or other dry area. That’s how we dry lavender, and small amounts of other herbs. Our garage is usually home to the lavender drying operation. When it’s out there drying the whole garage smells lovely! The lavender is not quite ready yet, but it’s close.
For the oregano, I’m opting for a quicker method. I’m going to dry that in the dehydrator. Our dehydrator has a temperature control that lets you dial in the desired heat level. For herbs, the manufacturer recommends 95-115°F. The herbs should be dry in a matter of several hours. I’ve got quite a lot of oregano to dry, so I will have to do it in more than one batch.
I harvested the oregano this morning, after the dew had dried but before the sun heated the plants up, which drives off the volatile essential oils. I cut the stems a few inches from the ground, and cut the blossoms off before drying. I’ve got several different varieties growing, including Greek, Hot & Spicy, Sicilian and Italian. Today I am drying the Hot & Spicy. The cuttings from that one variety will fill the dehydrator. I will mix all the varieties together after they are dried, and then store in a jar (or jars). Oregano is one of the herbs I think actually tastes better after drying. And they will make nice gifts if we have enough, which I’m guessing we will.
Before drying, this bucket of oregano weighed only 9 ounces. Of course it will weigh considerably less after drying and stripping off the stems. So it takes a lot to fill those little spice jars you buy at the grocery, and explains one reason why herbs and spices are so expensive. Even after allowing for the cost of electricity to run the dehydrator, it’s still very economical to grow your own herbs and spices whenever possible. And of course they taste great as well.
UPDATE: After drying, and stripping the leaves from the stems, the finished oregano weighed in at 1.5 ounces.