Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is part of the Lamiaceae family of plants. Oregano belongs to the same genus and is also used as a spice in the kitchen. Marjoram is a key ingredient in Mediterranean cuisines.1
Marjoram is a sweet, aromatic herb related to oregano and is used in both savory and sweet dishes.
Use dried or fresh marjoram leaves to season soups, stews, dressings, sauces, and herbal teas. It has a subtle, fruity flavor that’s commonly used in herb blends such as herbes de Provence and za'atar.
Marjoram adds a wonderful herbaceous flavor to roasted meats, in tomato and vegetable dishes, and Polish and German sausage recipes. It is particularly delicious when added to legumes such as lentils and beans. Sweet and complex, marjoram is also wonderful in homemade vinaigrette dressings.
Use marjoram in sweet dishes to flavor custards, ice cream, pies, tarts and other desserts with fruit; it pairs well with melons, apples, and tropical fruits.
Complementary herbs include thyme, tarragon, parsley, and basil.
Due to its delicate nature, fresh marjoram is best added towards the end of cooking. Dried marjoram can be added at the beginning.
When using fresh marjoram, remove the leaves from the stem before use.2
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Fresh and dried marjoram is available year-round in the produce and spice sections of supermarkets.
Marjoram grows wild on the mountain slopes in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt.
Keep fresh marjoram in the refrigerator for up to a week. The dried herb will keep for up to six months when stored in an airtight container.
Marjoram contains vitamins such as A, C, and K. It is also a good source of iron, calcium, and manganese. More deteailed information is avaiable on the nutrient tables further down.
Dangers / Intolerances:
Those allergic to basil, hyssop, lavender, mint, oregano, and sage should be cautious when using marjoram. People allergic to these plants and other members of the Lamiaceae family of plants may also have allergic reactions to marjoram.
Marjoram is sometimes confused with winter marjoram or oregano (Origanum vulgare), which is also referred to as wild marjoram.
Use as a medicinal plant:
The natural compounds and phytochemicals in marjoram, carvacrol, and thymol, give the herb antiseptic, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. Marjoram oil and tea are commonly used in naturopathic medicine for a runny nose, coughs, colds, infections, and various digestion problems, but there is no good scientific evidence to support these or any other uses.
When treating patients with asthma, marjoram oil is thought to be a relaxant that allows the lungs to expand. Early research shows that taking two drops of marjoram oil daily along with asthma medication for three months might reduce bronchial spasms and improve lung function in people with asthma better than taking asthma medication alone. Additional research is needed to support this.
There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that massaging a cream containing lavender, clary sage, and marjoram essential oils to the abdomen may reduce pain in some women with painful menstrual cramps. The effect of marjoram essential oil alone on menstrual cramps is unclear.
Marjoram may affect blood clotting factors. Taking medicinal amounts of marjoram might increase the risk of bruising and bleeding in people with bleeding disorders and might increase the risk of bleeding during and after surgery. Stop using marjoram medicinally at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.3
Cultivation and harvest:
Marjoram grows like a small shrub with multi-branched stems growing up to three feet in height. Its light green, slightly oval-shaped leaves grow in pairs along its tender stems. The leaves tend to be rounder and more elliptical than those of oregano, with the same fuzzy texture. Small white flowers bloom at the top of the stems. The ideal harvest time is just before the flowers bloom, when the amount of essential oils is at its peak.2
According to Wikipedia, marjoram (Origanum majorana) is native to the eastern portion of the Mediterranean. It is a cold-sensitive perennial herb or undershrub with sweet pine and citrus flavors. In some Middle Eastern countries, marjoram is synonymous with oregano, and there the names sweet marjoram and knotted marjoram are used to distinguish it from other plants of the genus Origanum.1
Marjoram is a key ingredient in many European and Mediterranean cuisines. Botanically classified as Origanum majorana, marjoram is a very close relative of oregano (O. vulgare) and is often mistakenly referred to as such. Marjoram is very similar to oregano, but botanically it is a different species with a milder flavor.2
In manufacturing, the oil is used as a fragrance in soaps, cosmetics, lotions, and perfumes.
Other names used for marjoram include garden marjoram, knotted marjoram, majorana herb, Majorana hortensis, marubaka, marwa, mejorana, mejram, pot marjoram, and sweet marjoram.
Literature / Sources:
- Wikipedia. Marjoram [Internet]. Version dated 11.22.2018
- Specialty Produce. Marjoram. Specialtyproduce.com. www.specialtyproduce.com/ produce/ marjoram_307.php (accessed 11.24.2018)
- WebMD. Marjoram. Webmd.com. www.webmd.com/ vitamins/ai/ ingredientmono-563/ marjoram (accessed 11.23.2018).