Dried oregano is a popular herb commonly used in a variety of cuisines, and is made from the leaves of the oregano plant (Origanum vulgare) that have been air-dried in the sun for optimum flavor. This versatile herb is a staple ingredient in Mediterranean, Italian, and Mexican dishes, offering a warm and slightly bitter taste that pairs well with a wide range of ingredients.
As a home cook, incorporating dried oregano into your recipes can greatly enhance the flavors of your dishes, particularly when added to tomato-based sauces, roasted vegetables, meats, and soups. It's best to add dried oregano early on in the cooking process to allow the flavors to meld and develop over time.
Dried oregano is often loved for the burst of flavor it adds to any dish. However, people commonly mistake oregano for other spices like marjoram or use it interchangeably which isn't always the best choice. Others use it in excessive amounts which can overwhelm the flavors of other ingredients. The key to getting the most out of dried oregano is to remember that a little goes a long way. It's recommended to crush the oregano between your fingers before adding to a recipe to release its oils and heighten its flavor.
The beauty of dried oregano is that its flavor does not diminish over time, unlike many other herbs. In fact, they often intensify, making it a great choice for slow-cooked dishes. Pair it with olive oil, garlic, and tomatoes for an authentic Mediterranean taste.
A little-known trick is to use dried oregano in a marinade. The oregano will not only tenderize your meat but will also give it a delicious depth in flavor. And remember, with dried spices, it's always a rule of thumb to taste as you go!
Does dried oregano lose its flavor over time?
Can I add dried oregano in marinades?
Can I replace fresh oregano with dried oregano in a recipe?
Why do I need to rub dried oregano between my fingers?
Can I use dried oregano in a salad dressing?
Is dried oregano only used for Italian dishes?
Can I add dried oregano at the end of cooking?
Is oregano the same as marjoram?
Is there a difference between different types of dried oregano?
Is there a substitute for dried oregano?
Expiration & Storage Tips
When does dried oregano expire?
Unopened, dried oregano can last in your pantry for up to two to three years. However, the potency of the herb will decrease over time, so it's best to use it within six months. Once opened, dried oregano typically has a shelf life of six months to a year, during which it can retain peak flavor. If stored in the freezer, it can last up to a year or more, although it's not commonly frozen in households.
How do you tell if dried oregano is bad?
Check your dried oregano for color changes. The leaves should be greenish-grey; a dull brown colour could indicate the herb is past its best. It should also have a potent, slightly minty aroma. If you can't smell the herb or it has a musty odour, it's probably past its prime. You can also taste a little to check—it should still have a slightly bitter, warm flavor. If the taste is very faint or off, throw it away.
Tips for storing dried oregano to extend shelf life
• Store dried oregano in a cool, dark, and dry place to maintain its flavor. The pantry is usually a great choice.
• Keep the herb in an airtight container to avoid moisture and maintain its longevity-
• Avoid storing oregano (or any herb) near heat sources like the oven or the stove, as heat can cause the herb to lose its flavor quickly.
• Consider writing the date on the package when you first open it. This way, you'll know how long you've had it open and can easily track when it's time to replace it.
• If you buy dried oregano in bulk, consider portioning it into smaller containers. This way, you can open a small amount at a time, keeping the rest as fresh as possible.