Marjoram is a culinary herb that brings a unique earthy, citrus, peppery complexity of flavors to food.
Best known as a comforting addition to Mediterranean fare, soups, meat dishes, and garden vegetables, marjoram has quite an intriguing background for such a humble herb.
What is Marjoram?
Marjoram is a fragrant herb in the mint family, and close botanical cousin to oregano. The gray-green leaves add a subtle pungent sweetness and depth to foods.
Its floral, grassy, faintly spicy notes pair well with tomato sauces, roasted meats, eggs, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes, squash, beans, and more.
History and Folklore
Native to the Mediterranean and Western Asia, marjoram has a rich history spanning over 2000 years. Ancient Greeks called marjoram “joy of the mountain” and adorned bridal couples with marjoram wreaths to bring happiness to newlyweds.
Early Romans used marjoram wreaths as symbols of honor and valor.
In folklore and literature, marjoram took on many mystical meanings: symbolizing affection, bliss, peace or deep empathy.
Monks in medieval Europe prepared therapeutic teas and ointments with marjoram from their monastery gardens. They believed it possessed the divine gift of healing.
Modern science shows marjoram does offer an array of wellness advantages. It fights bacteria, viruses, fungal growth. Herbalists prescribe marjoram to aid digestion, ease headaches and anxiety, lower blood pressure, relieve insomnia.
Rich with antioxidants like rosmarinic acid plus iron, calcium and vitamins A, C, E - marjoram boosts immunity and heart health. Its anti-inflammatory effects benefit people with arthritis, asthma or muscle strains. For women, it eases PMS and menopause issues.
And the folklore holds truth too: marjoram helps alleviate grief, soothe tension and stress, promote inner tranquility and positive emotions.
How to Cook with Marjoram
Marjoram brings its enchanting flavors and aromas to brighten up foods. A little goes a long way when cooking with dried or fresh marjoram leaves. Start with 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh, adding more to taste.
It shines in Mediterranean dishes: pizza, pasta, risottos, stews. Sprinkle on eggs, poultry, pork, fish and shellfish before roasting or grilling. Toss chopped leaves into salad dressings, roasted vegetables, cooked greens like spinach, marinades and compound butters. Brew marjoram tea to savor on its own too.
Here are a few favorite recipes using marjoram:
Marjoram Mushroom Soup
Sauté mushrooms, onion and garlic with marjoram. Add broth then puree for a comforting tasty soup.
Mix ground meat with marjoram, breadcrumbs, eggs, parmesan and herbs for extra juicy flavorful meatballs.
Roast sliced carrots tossed in oil, maple syrup and generous sprinkling of marjoram.
So let this graceful ancient herb called the “Joy of the Mountain” work its magic in your kitchen. May it bring you good health, happiness and memorable meals.