In the world of culinary delights, marjoram is one of the herbs that often takes a back seat compared to its more famous brethren. But this inconspicuous herb has a wealth of flavor and aroma properties that can take your dishes to new heights. Although this plant is similar to oregano, it is not as commonly used. For some of us, marjoram is an almost unknown spice. It is one of the best spices that not only gives dishes a great taste, but also heals us with its properties. And the best part? You can easily grow this valuable spice at home. We’ve put together everything you need to know about marjoram and give you tips for growing it at home. Be ready for new culinary adventures!
This herb possesses a wealth of flavors and aromatic properties
You can grow this valuable spice in your home
What is marjoram?
Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is a fragrant herb that belongs to the mint family (Lamiaceae). It is closely related to oregano (Origanum vulgare) and has a similar appearance, but marjoram has a milder and sweeter flavor profile. The herb is native to the Mediterranean region and has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. It is a heat-loving plant and in its early development it cannot tolerate even the slightest cold. Marjoram plants have small, oval leaves that are gray-green in color. It is particularly effective when dried, but can also be used fresh. It also has great symbolism and history. Marjoram can be grown both indoors and outdoors and is often cultivated as an annual plant, but can also grow as a perennial in warmer climates.
Marjoram is a heat-loving plant
History and symbolism of marjoram
Marjoram has a rich history dating back centuries, and its uses extend beyond the culinary realm. Its origins date back to ancient times and it is believed to have been used by the ancient Greeks and Romans for both culinary and medicinal purposes. The Greeks dedicated marjoram to Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty. It rises from the sea and rises on the island of Cyprus. The herb grew on this island, and so it is no surprise that it became known as the herb of love! The herb was believed to contain a love charm, which is why brides wore marjoram as a crown to be blessed with many children. Marjoram is sometimes referred to as the “lucky herb” because it is historically associated with joy and contentment.
In ancient times, Majorana was known as the herb of love
In ancient times it was considered a sacred plant. The ancient Greeks believed that if a majorana sprouted on a person’s grave, it was a sign that the deceased was enjoying peace and happiness in the afterlife. Hippocrates prescribed the herb for respiratory and stomach problems. Historically, Majorana was well known and widely used in North Africa – Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco. In the Middle Ages it was used to treat epilepsy and women’s diseases. Today it is one of the most popular spices in German cuisine. Many German sausages have to be seasoned with it.
Marjoram belongs to the mint family
Differences between marjoram and oregano
Marjoram (Origanum majorana) and oregano (Origanum vulgare) are similar-looking herbs but differ in taste, aroma, and culinary use. Marjoram has a milder, sweeter flavor with floral undertones, making it suitable for lighter dishes such as salads, soups and poultry. Oregano, on the other hand, has a bold and peppery flavor that makes it a staple in savory dishes like pizza, pasta, and grilled meats. The plants also differ in appearance: marjoram has softer, gray-green leaves and a more delicate growth habit, while oregano has darker, slightly hairy leaves and is often hardy and grows as a perennial in various climates.
Marjoram thrives in well-drained soil and plenty of sunlight
Planting and cultivation
Growing marjoram at home can be a rewarding experience because it allows you to create a fresh supply of this aromatic herb for use in the kitchen. Here are instructions on how to plant and cultivate Aphrodite’s herb:
- The best location: Marjoram prefers full sunlight. Choose a location that receives at least six hours of sunlight per day. If growing it indoors, place it near a sunny window.
- The best planting time: The optimal time to plant marjoram is in spring, when the risk of frost has passed and the ground has warmed to around 10°C. If you are sowing seeds indoors, you should start sowing 6-8 weeks before the last expected frost. You can start planting in pots at any time of the year. Just make sure the conditions are suitable for growth.
- Soil preparation and pH: Use well-drained soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH (about 6.0 to 7.0). Prepare the soil by adding organic matter, such as: B. Compost, to improve its structure and fertility.
- Planting marjoram: When planting marjoram, you should leave about 30 to 45 cm between plants. This spacing allows for good air circulation and ensures that each plant has enough space to grow and develop.
- Irrigation: In the early stages of its development, the plant is sensitive to moisture and therefore needs to be watered regularly. After that this is no longer necessary as it is relatively drought tolerant. Water when the top 1 inch of soil feels dry. Keep the soil constantly moist, but avoid waterlogging.
You can use fresh or dried marjoram
Care and Maintenance
Marjoram is a relatively easy herb to care for, but proper care enhances its growth and flavor. How to keep it in top condition:
- Cutting marjoram: Cut the marjoram with scissors when the plant is about 6 inches tall and the top inch (about 1 inch) of stems has been cut off. When harvesting, cut individual stems or leaves close to the node. Be careful not to remove more than a third of the plant to encourage continued growth and health.
- Fertilization: Fertilizing marjoram is essential for optimal growth and good taste. Fertilize your marjoram plant every 4-6 weeks during the growing season (spring and summer) with a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer.
- Pests and Diseases: Marjoram is generally resistant to pests and diseases. However, watch out for aphids, spider mites or mildew.
- Winter protection: In colder climates, marjoram cannot survive the winter outdoors. Consider bringing the plants indoors in containers or treating marjoram as an annual. A layer of mulch around the base of the plant can provide some insulation in winter.
- Harvest marjoram: Marjoram is ready to harvest when it reaches a height of around 15 cm and looks bushy. Use clean scissors to trim individual stems or leaves, preferably in the morning when the essential oils are most concentrated. Be careful not to remove more than a third of the plant each harvest.
In the first phase of development it is sensitive to moisture
© Аdobe Stock
Marjoram medicinal properties and uses
Marjoram (Origanum majorana) is traditionally associated with various medicinal properties and health benefits. Medicine is made from the flowers, leaves and oil of marjoram. Tea made from the leaves or flowers is used for runny noses and colds, dry and irritating coughs, swollen nose and throat, and earaches. Marjoram tea is also used for various digestive problems such as loss of appetite, liver disease and stomach cramps. Other areas of application include the treatment of diabetes, sleep disorders, muscle cramps, headaches, sprains, bruises and back pain. The herb contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the body. Marjoram has been shown to have antimicrobial properties, making it potentially effective against certain bacteria and fungi.
In industry, the oil is used as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.
Marjoram has found its place in the cuisine of many countries, which is why the Mediterranean herb can be found in many traditional dishes. In Central Europe it is often used for meat dishes, minced meat and sausages. Marjoram goes excellently with roast goose, vegetable and potato dishes. It combines well with thyme, savory, pepper, onions, garlic and bay leaf. When cooked, this spice loses its characteristic aroma as the essential oils evaporate. That’s why you should only add dried marjoram to the dish shortly before the end of the cooking time.
Marjoram is rich in antioxidants that help combat oxidative stress