Does Oregano Go Bad? How Long Does It Last?

Oregano is a herb, and it might seem like they’ll never go bad, or their shelf life is a few years. However, that’s not entirely the case.

This article will explain whether or not oregano does go bad. Then, we’ll explain how to tell if your oregano is bad, whether it’s fresh or dried out.

In addition, the article will explain how long oregano can last, whether fresh, frozen, or dried. Then, we’ll discuss various ways of storing the herb so that you can elongate its shelf life as much as possible. 

Does Oregano Go Bad?

Unfortunately, yes. Oregano does go bad. As with most food, if it sits in your cabinet for too long or it’s not stored correctly, then oregano will go bad.

However, does oregano go bad if it’s dry? Believe it or not, yes. Oregano can last longer in one form over another, but it will go bad eventually.

How To Tell If Oregano Is Bad

For the most part, you’ll be able to tell if this herb has gone bad if it loses its flavor or scent. If it smells different, then it’s most likely bad.

However, depending on how your herb is prepared, it might be harder to tell if it’s gone bad or not.

just harvested oregano - does it go bad
Oregano

Fresh Oregano

Fresh oregano is easy to tell if it’s gone bad. For instance, the leaves are usually a bright green color. However, as it gets old, the color will begin to dull.

In addition, the leaves will become less crisp and soft to the touch.

Once this begins to happen, use up the oregano that you have if you don’t want it to go to waste. Otherwise, it will most likely be too bad to use within a day or two.

In other words, the fresh oregano won’t have much flavor to it at all.

Dried Oregano

On the other hand, dried oregano is a bit tougher to tell if it’s gone bad or not. This dried herb already looks and feels crumbly, so how can you know?

Well, similar to fresh oregano, the dried oregano will begin to lose its scent and flavoring. However, Oregano typically has a strong odor.

So, if you’re unsure if your dried oregano is still good or not, then you can tell by its smell.

For example, take a little bit and rub it between your fingers. It’ll crush the dried leaves, and if you can’t smell anything, then you know it’s gone bad. But, on the other hand, if you can smell it just a tiny bit, then you can be sure the dried oregano is on its way out. 

dried oregano
Dried oregano

How Long Does Fresh Oregano Last?

Fresh oregano doesn’t keep as long as you would think. Once harvesting it from your garden or buying it from the grocery store, you’ll have roughly two weeks to use it up.

How Long Does Dried Oregano Last?

On the other hand, dried oregano lasts much longer. Believe it or not, it doesn’t go completely bad for about two to three years.

However, after six months or so, your dried oregano will begin to lose its scent and flavor. It’ll still be good to use, but the flavor won’t be nearly as strong in your recipe.

How Long Does Oregano Last?

The shelf life of this herb will depend on how well you keep the oregano and how you prepare it. For example, you can leave the leaves fresh or dry them out.

On the other hand, you can also freeze oregano leaves. You can freeze fresh leaves or dry out the leaves first and then freeze them.

In addition, it will depend on how well your store your oregano.

Before we get into the details of how to store your oregano leaves, take a quick look at this table. Here you can easily see the average shelf life of oregano in any form.

If The Oregano Is…Then The Oregano Will Last…
Fresh in the fridge12 to 14 days
Fresh at room temperature2 to 3 days
Dried2 to 3 years
FrozenUp to 1 year

Tip For How To Store Oregano So It Lasts As Long As Possible

It’s easy to believe that spices and herbs can last up to many years. However, that’s not the case.

You can prolong your oregano’s shelf life if you store it properly. However, depending on how you keep your oregano – frozen, fresh, or dried – that will determine how well you need to store it.

Storing Oregano In The Fridge

One of the easiest ways to store oregano is inside your fridge.

Simply take your oregano leaves and put them inside a plastic bag with a damp paper towel. Make sure the paper towel is damp rather than wet. Otherwise, you’ll oversoak your oregano leaves, and it’ll have the opposite effect.

With a damp paper towel, the oregano will remain moist enough that it’ll keep in the cold fridge for a while.

Storing Oregano In The Cabinet

Yes, drying out oregano is a storing method and a cooking preference.

After going through the drying process, you can place the dried oregano leaves inside a clear glass jar with a lid.

You’ll want to cure it first to ensure that the dried leaves do not grow any mold or other bacteria on them.

For instance, you can cure the dried leaves by placing the jar in a dark corner of the room. Then, every day, for about one hour, take the lid off and allow the dried oregano to get some fresh air.

Then, look at the leaves inside the jar. If you notice mold or anything else on the leaves, you can take it out and discard it.

After about a week of curing the dried oregano leaves, you can tightly close the lid and store the jar in a dark cabinet.

Storing Oregano In The Freezer

The freezer is another great storing place for your oregano leaves. Whether the oregano is dried or fresh, you can put them in the freezer, and they’ll keep for a long time.

For example, you can put fresh oregano leaves in a plastic bag, similar to how you would for the fridge. You won’t need the paper towel this time. You can simply put the leaves in the bag on their own, without them laying on top of one another.

Then, put the bag in the freezer, where the leaves won’t get crushed. That’s all there is to it.

On the other hand, you can put the leaves in ice cube trays. The leaves can be fresh, pureed, or dried.

Fill the ice cube trays with water (or oil such as olive oil) and fill each cube with about one tablespoon of oregano leaves. Let them freeze.

Once frozen, pop them out of the ice cube tray and put them in a bowl inside the freezer (or use them right away). This way, they won’t get freezer burn by staying inside the ice cube tray all that time.

Learn more about storing oregano herbs here.

Final Words

The short answer is yes. Oregano does go bad. However, there are ways to prolong its shelf life.

For instance, there are many ways to prepare oregano, whether you decide to keep it fresh, freeze the herb, or dry it out.

Then, there are many ways you can store it to ensure the oregano leaves stay as fresh as can be for however long you need the herbs.

Want to learn more? Read my dried vs ground oregano comparison here or learn how to dry oregano here. You can also find all my oregano guides here.