Marjoram (Majorana hortensis) is a sweeter, milder cousin of oregano (wild marjoram), with small, velvety, grayish green, rounded leaves. Marjoram is native to the eastern Mediterranean and is now widely cultivated in Georgia, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and central and Eastern Europe.
Marjoram is a good all-around herb often combined with sage in poultry seasoning; it goes especially well with turkey, rabbit, or chicken. Either fresh or dried, marjoram is well-suited to starchy or strong-flavoured vegetables, such as beans, split peas, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, chestnuts, and cabbage. Dried marjoram is important in commercial food processing and is much used, together with thyme, in spice mixtures for sausage. It shows up often in Scandinavian recipes and is also common in the Caucasus Mountains, where it is one of the herbs characteristic of the complex Georgian spice mixture khmeli-suneli. In the colder climate of northern Europe, marjoram is apt to be used dried, while in the warmer southern Europe it’s used fresh. Warm climates develop its specific aroma; dried marjoram loses some of its subtlety. Gold-tip marjoram has curled, gold-tipped, green leaves.
Since smaller pot marjoram (Origanum onites) grows well indoors, it can provide fresh aromatic leaves all winter long. It has a strong thyme-like aroma and is used to flavour red meats and even Turkish delight candy. The seeds or fruits of this plant flavour dressings, liqueurs, soups, sausage, and cured meat.
In Jordan, Lebanon, and Israel, a highly aromatic local marjoram, za’atar (M. syriaca), is a common flavouring for grilled lamb and flatbreads. It tastes and smells like a combination of thyme, marjoram, and oregano, and it’s often mixed with sumac to spread on pita bread. In areas where no za’atar grows, the same name is used for related herbs.
- Other Names
- Marjoram: Almáraco or mejorana (Spanish); kekikotu or mercanköşk (Turkish); knotted marjoram (British); maggiorana (Italian); măghiran (Romanian); majoran or wurstkraut (German); majoránna (Hungarian); mardaqoush or marzanjush (Arabic); marjolaine (French); matzourana (Greek); mayoram (Hebrew); mejram (Swedish); sweet marjoram. Pot marjoram: Cretan oregano; rigani (Greek); Turkish oregano. Za’atar: Bible hyssop; Syrian oregano
- Fresh marjoram and za’atar are in season in summer.
- Purchase and Avoid
- Avoid marjoram with any blackened leaves. Because dried marjoram loses its flavour easily, buy it in small quantities and often.
- Marjoram freezes easily, so store it in the warmest part of the refrigerator—under the light or on the top shelf.
Sprinkle marjoram over fried potatoes.
Add crumbled marjoram to stuffing for chicken, duck, goose, or turkey, or rub the skin and insides with the herb.
Add marjoram to clam chowder, turtle soup, black or white bean soup, split pea soup, or oyster stew.
Category: Spices and Herbs
Sub Category: Herb
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