Gardener's Path

Marjoram, also known as Origanum majorana or sweet marjoram, is a perennial herb that is part of the mint family. It is closely related to oregano, which is sometimes referred to as wild marjoram.

It is believed marjoram originated in the Mediterranean and western Asia. It was prevalent in ancient Greece where it was used for medicinal purposes and recognised as a symbol of love and happiness. It was also used in ancient Egypt as a medicine and as part of the embalming process.

Nowadays, marjoram is widespread and commonly found across Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Egypt.

Growth and harvest
The herb grows best in arid and semi-arid climates with warm temperatures. It thrives in full sun and should be sheltered from heavy rain during wet seasons as it doesn’t require a lot of water to survive. Although it is referred to as a perennial plant, marjoram doesn’t fare well in cool temperatures and frost, which can kill it.

It’s recommended to sow seeds indoors in early spring before moving them outdoors once the cold weather passes. Seedlings should be planted in sandy or loamy soil about 30cm apart in an area with full sunlight.

Marjoram plants grow between 30cm and 60cm tall and have a shrubby appearance
with fuzzy, oval-shaped green leaves. White or pink flowers bloom during mid to late summer and should be pruned before they flower to promote growth. It usually takes up to three months after planting for marjoram to be ready for harvest. Marjoram can be picked multiple times during the growth phase, usually when buds appear.

Flavour profile and culinary uses
Marjoram can be used fresh or dry and is described as a milder and slightly sweeter version of oregano. It has a woody and earthy base with bitter, floral, citrus notes. Dried marjoram works well in seasonings, stews, marinades, sauces, and stuffings.

When used fresh, it should be added towards the end of cooking to ensure the flavour is preserved. The herb is commonly used in mincemeat mixtures and in marinades for proteins, in particular poultry, veal, lamb, beef, and pork. It can also be added to marinara or tomato-based pizza sauces.

Vegetable-wise, fresh marjoram is ideal in different salsas, pico de gallo, or salads. Marjoram also features in spice blends such as herbes de Provence and za’atar as well as in the mixture used to make Polish sausages. It can be used as a milder replacement for oregano in certain recipes, too