Does Oregano Go Bad? – Full Analysis

by Charlie
Does Oregano Go Bad

Oregano is a wonderful and flavorful spice used in many American, Italian, and Mediterranean dishes. There are many different types of oregano from all around the world. The smell of oregano is so popular that it is a major oil in the essential oil market. 

Does oregano go bad? Yes, oregano does go bad. There are four types of oregano, and each one has its own expiration date. Brown and dried oregano can last 3-6 years. Fresh oregano leaves will last 12 to 14 days in the refrigerator, but only 2-3 days at room temperature. Oregano oil will last for 6 years as long as it is not left out in the sun, and it should never be used for cooking or frying.

How Long Does Oregano Last?

Fresh oregano: As long as the fresh oregano is stored correctly, in a damp paper towel in a ziplock bag, it can last 12 to 14 days. Sometimes it will even last a few days longer if it is purchased soon after it was harvested. But, if you don’t store with a paper towel and ziplock bag, then the herbs will last about a week in the fridge. 

If you place fresh oregano leaves in a ziplock bag with a damp towel, it can extend its shelf life by another 4 to 5 days or even a week. 

Ground and dried oregano: These types of oregano will last 2 to 3 years. They last so long that many people usually finish them before they expire.

Oregano oil: This oil can last up to 6 years if stored in a dark container and is never affected by the sun or contaminated by moisture. Remember that oregano oil is not an oil you fry or cook with. It cannot be added to foods until after the cooking process is over. That is one reason why it lasts so long.

How Long Does Oregano Last? Shelf Life [Chart]

ItemLength of time
Dried and ground oregano2-3 years
Oregano oilUp to 6 years
Fresh oregano, fridge12-14 days
Fresh oregano, room temperature4-5 days

How to Know if Oregano has Gone Bad

When fresh oregano leaves go bad, they will look wilted and turn into a darker color than their original color. The leaves may also come apart. Rotting oregano will not have a fresh and flavorful smell. The unique smell will be replaced by a rotting grass smell.

Dried oregano: If dried oregano is exposed to too much air for a long time, it will turn very hard and start to crumble. Plus, it will also turn to a darker color, and will have no scent or taste. Sometimes, when dried oregano gets old, you will have to rub it in your hands to smell if it is still good.

Ground oregano: The only way to know if ground oregano has gone bad is to smell and taste it. It will have no smell or taste on its own or when it is warmed up in the pan with some oil. But since oregano lasts 2-3 years, you will probably use it before it goes bad.

How to Store Oregano

It is important to store the oregano in your home correctly, so it lasts as long as possible and continues to flavor the food you cook for days to come.

Oregano oil: Just like avocado oil, olive oil, and other delicate cooking oils, oregano oil needs to be stored in a dark-colored glass or in a plastic container that does not allow sunlight to go through the bottle.

Oregano oil and its essential version can be placed in the refrigerator if there is no other place to keep it safe. But as long as it’s not kept in a warm space or indirect sunlight, it is fine in the cupboard or pantry. People also store their essential oils in the bathroom. If a new container of oregano oil says that it must be refrigerated after opening, then keep it in the fridge.

Fresh oregano: the fresher is spices, the more likely it is to bring out new flavors when added into a dish and boost the flavors of other ingredients. Fresh oregano is one of those spices that go bad, so you must store the oregano leaves in the refrigerator. Fresh oregano does not last long, so it is important to maximize its shelf life as much as possible. Fresh oregano leaves must be placed in a ziplock bag that contains a damp paper towel. The damp paper towel will keep the leaves hydrated and soft. The paper towels should not be dripping wet. It should only be slightly damp.

Dried oregano: Unlike the oil, dried oregano leaves do not have to be in a dark colored glass bottle or a protected plastic one, but it can help extend shelf life. It is still important that you keep it away from sunlight, but it doesn’t have to be refrigerated. 

Leave the oregano with the other spices in your spice rack. A dark-colored glass container or protective plastic container may keep the oregano leaves from deteriorating too quickly, but unnecessary.

If you purchase a small bag of oregano leaves, remove the oregano leaves from the bag and place them in a colored container. The bag will not protect them from deterioration like the container will.

Ground oregano: Like most other ground spices, ground oregano does well in a glass spice shaker or a thick container that keeps out the temperature or the light. Ground oregano lasts much longer than dried or fresh oregano, but it still must be protected from bugs, light, and moisture. Leave the ground oregano with your other spices and be sure to always close and snap the lid when you are done using it.

Conclusion

  • There are four types of oregano: dried oregano, ground oregano, oregano oil, and fresh oregano leaves. 
  • Oregano oil will last up to 6 years if kept in a dark bottle.
  • Fresh oregano leaves can last 12 to 14 days if kept in a damp paper towel in a ziplock bag. 
  • Fresh oregano leaves will only last four to five days at room temperature.
  • Both dried and ground oregano can stay good for up to 3 years.
  • When fresh oregano leaves rot, they will wilt and smell rotten.
  • A bag of ground or dried oregano will last for 3 years. When it is open, it must be taped closed or placed in a Ziploc bag.
  • Oregano oil has to be in a colored plastic container or a dark bottle, so it is not affected by the Sun’s light.
  • Never use ground or dried oregano if you can see moisture inside their containers or if bugs are crawling on the leaves and powder.

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