Oregano is an aromatic herb that is widely used in Mediterranean, Italian, Greek, and Mexican cuisine. It has a pungent, slightly bitter taste and minty fragrance that enhances the flavor of many dishes. While fresh oregano can be found at most grocery stores, oregano powder is a handy staple to keep in your pantry.
Making your own oregano powder at home is easy, and economical, and ensures you have a supply of this versatile seasoning on hand whenever you need it. With just a few simple ingredients and steps, you can make batches of homemade oregano powder to use in all kinds of recipes.
1. Gather the Oregano Leaves
The first step in making oregano powder is gathering fresh oregano leaves. There are a couple of options for getting fresh oregano:
- Grow your own. Oregano is easy to grow and is a perennial herb, meaning it comes back every year. Plant some in your herb garden or in pots for a readily available oregano source.
- Purchase fresh. Look for fresh oregano bunches at farmer's markets or in the produce section of your grocery store. Opt for sprigs with vibrant green leaves.
- Use dried. While fresh is ideal, you can also use dried oregano leaves. Dried oregano can often be found in the spice aisle.
No matter which source you use, you'll need about 2 cups of fresh oregano leaves or 1⁄2 cup dried oregano leaves to make your powder. Rinse fresh oregano and pat it dry before using.
2. Dehydrate the Leaves
To make an oregano powder, the leaves need to be completely dried out first. This removes all the moisture and allows them to be ground into a powder.
You have a few options for drying oregano leaves:
- Air dry. Spread washed leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Leave in a warm, dry spot for up to 2 weeks, until the leaves are brittle and crumbled easily.
- Use an oven. Place leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake at the lowest temperature for 2-4 hours, until dried.
- Use a dehydrator. Arrange leaves in a single layer on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 95°F for 4-6 hours until fully dried.
Dried leaves should crumble easily between your fingers when ready. If any moisture remains, they will not grind properly.
Key Takeaway: Fully dehydrate fresh oregano leaves before grinding to ensure proper powder formation.
3. Grind the Oregano Into Powder
Once the oregano leaves are fully dried, you're ready to grind them into a fine powder. You can use either of these appliances:
- Food processor: Working in batches, pulse the leaves in a food processor until a fine powder forms. Don't overprocess into a paste.
- Spice grinder: Place dried leaves in a dedicated coffee/spice grinder and grind to a powder. Work in small batches for best results.
You can grind the leaves to various textures from finely ground powder to slightly coarse powder depending on preference. Sift through a fine mesh sieve after grinding to remove any remaining large pieces.
Store the Oregano Powder
Transfer the fresh oregano powder to an airtight container. Glass jars or small tins work well for storage. Keep in a cool, dark place and the oregano powder will stay fresh for 6-12 months.
For longer shelf life, store the powder in the refrigerator or freezer. Properly stored, oregano powder can last for years frozen.
Use the Oregano Powder
One of the best things about making your own oregano powder is that you can use it to add flavor to all kinds of dishes:
- Sprinkle it on pizza, pasta, bruschetta, salads, roasted vegetables, soups, and more.
- Add it to bread, muffin, and cookie batters.
- Use it in place of other herbs in recipes.
- Mix with olive oil for an instant marinade or dipping oil.
- Combine with salt and other herbs and spices to make a homemade Italian seasoning blend.
- Stir into meatball or burger mixes for extra flavor.
Anywhere you want a little extra zing of flavor, reach for your homemade oregano powder. It's sure to become a favorite go-to seasoning!
Additional Tips for Making Oregano Powder
Here are some additional tips to help you get the most out of your homemade oregano powder:
- When prepping the leaves, use the tender, younger sprigs. Older leaves can be bitter.
- Mix in other dried herbs like basil, thyme, or rosemary when grinding for extra flavor.
- If you grow oregano, harvest leaves just before the plant flowers for the best flavor.
- Store leftover fresh leaves in olive oil in the fridge for up to a week.
- To intensify the flavor, toast the dried leaves for 1-2 minutes before grinding.
- For a spicier powder, add crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne when grinding.
Making your own oregano powder truly couldn't be easier. With just a few simple steps, you can have a supply of this versatile herb on hand to punch up the flavor of everything from pizza to roasted veggies. Get your dehydrator or oven going today to whip up a batch!
What's the best way to dry fresh oregano leaves?
The best drying method for oregano leaves is using a dehydrator or oven. Arrange the leaves in a single layer and dry at 95-100°F until completely brittle and dried out. This ensures even drying. You can also air-dry leaves at room temperature.
Can I use dried oregano instead of fresh?
Yes, you can substitute dried oregano leaves in this powder recipe. Use about 1⁄2 cup of crumbled dried leaves in place of 2 cups fresh. The powder may be slightly less flavorful than when using fresh.
How should I store my homemade oregano powder?
Store oregano powder in an airtight container in a cool, dry place like a kitchen cabinet. For a maximum shelf life of up to 1 year, refrigerate or freeze the powder. Make sure no moisture gets into the container.
What's the difference between oregano and Mexican oregano?
Mexican oregano comes from a different plant but has a similar flavor. It has more citrus, eucalyptus, and licorice notes. Both types work well in this powder recipe and can be used interchangeably.
What dishes can I use my homemade oregano powder for?
You can add oregano powder to nearly any dish! It's excellent on meats, fish, veggies, pasta, pizza, dressings, sauces, baked goods, and more. Anywhere you want a little hit of herby flavor, reach for your oregano powder.
Making your own oregano powder is an easy kitchen project with a tasty payoff. Now you can add the intense herby flavor of oregano anytime a recipe calls for it. Use fresh oregano leaves to make the most flavorful powder possible.
Fully drying the leaves before grinding is the key step to ensure your powder has the right texture. An airtight jar is perfect for storing your homemade oregano powder to keep it fresh.
Sprinkle it on everything from pasta to burger patties for a delicious flavor boost!