Marjoram is an herb with a mild, sweet flavor similar to oregano. Because it is native to the Mediterranean, it is frequently used in Italian cuisine and other dishes of that region.


Other names: sweet marjoram, wild marjoram, Knotted Marjoram
Translations: Majorāns, Mairūnas, Maghiran, Mažuran, Cây kinh giới, Majeranek, Marjolein, कुठरा, Manjerona, Майоран, Μαντζουράνα, مردقوش, 마요라나, Majoránka, Halaman ng madyoram, 墨角兰, Mejorana, Majaron, Majorán, Maggiorana, מיורן, Mejram, Мајоран, マジョラム, Marjolaine, Majoran, Merian, Merian, Mejorana, Майоран, Meirami, Риган

Physical Description

Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as Herbes de Provence and Za'atar.

The flowering leaves and tops of Marjoram are steam distilled to produce an essential oil that is yellowish in color (darkening to brown as it ages).

Colors: Light Green

Tasting Notes

Flavors: Sweet, Citrus,
Mouthfeel: Greens, Leafy
Food complements: Pasta, Tomatoes, Poultry, Meat, Cheese
Wine complements: Red wine, Cabernet savignon, Merlot, Zinfandel, White wine
Beverage complements: Tea, Ginger ale
Substitutes: Oregano, Mint

Selecting and Buying

Seasonality: january, february, march, april, may, june, july, august, september, opctober, november, december
Choosing: Both fresh and dried marjoram are available year-round. Fresh marjoram leaves should be round or oval in shape and from bright green to a light grayish-green in color. The herb is often confused with its cousin, oregano, because of their similar fragrance and appearance.

Check to make sure no leaves are wilted or bruised. Always smell for freshness.

Buying: Buy at your local grocery store or farmers market.
Procuring: How to Grow Marjoram:

Marjoram has a subtler flavor than its cousin oregano, but it's just as useful in the kitchen. It's also beautiful, with gray-green leaves and spikes of tiny white or pale pink flowers. It's a tender perennial, grown as an annual in all but the mildest climates.

Choose a sheltered site that gets full sun. Marjoram prefers soil on the rich side with a neutral to alkaline pH (7.0 to 8.0), but in warm weather it will thrive even in poor, dry soil.

Buy started plants at the nursery. Otherwise, sow seeds directly into the ground after the last frost or, to hurry things along, start seeds indoors six weeks before the last expected frost.

Harden off seedlings, whether homegrown or store-bought; when all danger of frost has passed, move them to the garden, spacing them 6 inches apart.

Keep plants warm and on the dry side. Protect young plants with cloches (see "How to Make Cloches") or other covers if the weather turns chilly.

Grow marjoram in containers if you live in a region colder than USDA zone 9. When the weather is mild, keep the plants on a sunny terrace or deck; when temperatures dip toward the frost level, move them to a cool but sunny greenhouse, cold frame or windowsill.

Start picking leaves as soon as they're large enough to use; flavor is best before the flowers open.

Aphids love marjoram. To keep them at bay, plant their archnemesis, coriander, nearby.

Cloches are bell-shaped glass jars designed to keep plants warm when unexpected cold snaps strike. They've been used for centuries in European gardens. They're usually cost-prohibitive for a large garden, but they add an elegant, and practical, touch to a small one.

Pick marjoram in the morning after the dew has dried on the leaves but before the sun's heat can dissipate the volatile oils that give the plant its distinctive flavor and aroma.

Preparation and Use

Marjoram is cultivated for its aromatic leaves, either green or dry, for culinary purposes; the tops are cut as the plants begin to flower and are dried slowly in the shade. It is often used in herb combinations such as Herbes de Provence and Za'atar.

Marjoram's oils succumb to heat faster than those of most herbs. To preserve its flavor, add marjoram to cooked dishes just before serving.

Cleaning: Wash & Rinse with water before use.

Conserving and Storing

Store fresh marjoram in plastic bags in the refrigerator.

Freeze marjoram to retain the most flavor and aroma. Freeze entire branches on cookie sheets, then strip the leaves from the stems and put them back into the freezer in plastic containers. Or mix finely chopped marjoram leaves with just enough olive oil or butter to bind them together, and freeze the mixture in ice cube trays.

Dry marjoram by spreading leaves on screens or tying stalks into small bundles and hanging them in a warm, dark, dry place.

Store dried marjoram leaves in airtight jars.

Frozen marjoram tastes much better than the dried form, but it appears limp and unattractive. Use it in stews, casseroles and other dishes when taste matters more than appearance.


It was used in England at one time as an ingredient of snuff. They then decided to put it in their beer, as a preservative and to give an aromatic flavour.

Oregano has been long referred to as wild marjoram, and, in fact, oregano means marjoram in Spanish. However, although the Mediterranean variety of oregano closely resembles and is closely related to marjoram, they are different herbs. In fact much of the marjoram referred to by the ancients was actually oregano.

Botanists used to refer to both plants as Origanum majorana. Now they are referred to as Majorana hortensis, but this name really belongs to the sweet marjoram, which spread throughout Europe from the Mediterranean, but originated apparently from Africa.

History: The history of marjoram and oregano are inseparable. It was believed that the Greek God Venus created the plants and gave them their wonderful sweet flavour and scent. The herb was said to the favourite of Arphrodite.

It was said that if you anointed yourself with marjoram you would dream of your future spouse.

The ancients believed that if marjoram grew on a grave it was a sign of the happiness of the departed spirit. Sometimes it was planted at gravesites to comfort the departed and ensure their eternal peace and happiness.

In the Middle Ages, bridal couples wore wreaths of marjoram to symbolise love, honour and happiness. It was commonly carried around in ladies posies and in sweet bags and sometimes strewn around the house as a deodorant . It was worn at weddings for happiness and added to food to nurture love.

The name marjoram (Old French majorane, Medieval Latin majorana) does not directly derive from the Latin word maior (major). Marjoram is indigenous to the Mediterranean area and was known to the Greeks and Romans as a symbol of happiness.



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