Marjoram is a herb primarily associated with Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes and that belongs to the mint family. It is closely related to oregano and their flavor profiles are similar with marjoram often being described as a sweeter, milder version of oregano. Marjoram is not an especially common herb outside of the Middle East and Europe, but it is relatively easy to grow.
If you find yourself with an abundance of the herb, you can try drying some to preserve it. Start with marjoram that you have washed to get rid of any pathogens and have dried off thoroughly. The methods below show you how to dry marjoram for the best flavor.
The easiest way to dry herbs is also the oldest. Make a bundle of marjoram by tying four or five stems together with string or rubber bands. The smaller the bundle, the faster it will dry. Hang the bundle in a location that has good ventilation and dry air. Warmth is also helpful to the drying process; 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit is a good temperature range. Ideally, this location should also have limited light since exposure to light can affect the flavor of herbs. Attics and sheds often meet many of the criteria for air drying herbs.
Paper bags are optional but can be useful for drying marjoram effectively. You can wrap the bundle in a paper bag before hanging it. Tie the opening of the bag tight around the stems. The paper bag can catch any leaves that fall from the bundle and can also keep it from getting dusty. Use a bag that is big enough to allow air to flow around the marjoram. It should be big enough that the bundle is not touching the inside of the bag. Poke holes in the bag to ensure proper ventilation.
Your oven can be an effective tool for drying marjoram as long as you use it correctly. Heat the oven to its lowest temperature. Remember that even the lowest settings on most ovens will still be too hot for drying herbs. Excessive heat destroys the essential oils in marjoram that provide its flavor and aroma.
To help keep the heat low, crack the oven door. Keeping the door open will also help with air circulation and removing moisture. After about an hour, turn the oven off and let it cool. The marjoram should be completely dry. Remove from the oven and place in an airtight container.
You can dry marjoram in a microwave, but it comes with significant risk since it is easy to dry the herb too much. Over-drying marjoram may render it flavorless by vaporizing its essential oils.
The safest way to dry marjoram in a microwave is to place the sprigs on a paper towel and microwave them in 30-second bursts. The short bursts will keep the temperature moderate while drying it out. After the first two or three minutes, flip the marjoram to ensure even drying.
A food dehydrator will be the best appliance for drying marjoram because it is capable of ensuring good air circulation and warm — but not too warm — temperatures. The best ones will have a thermostat that you can set, but any kind should still be able to do the job. Lay the sprigs of marjoram out in a single layer on the food dehydrator’s trays and dry the herb at a temperature of around 115 degrees. You will know that your marjoram is dry when the leaves crumble easily and the stems are brittle.