Marjoram: Oregano’s Forgotten Cousin

Marjoram is indigenous to northern Africa and is a relative of oregano. The cultivation of this herb is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean region, namely Cyprus and Turkey. Both marjoram and oregano are of the Origanum genus and in parts of Europe, what we refer to as oregano is called “wild marjoram” while marjoram is called “sweet marjoram.”

It was used for healing disinfection and for preserving in ancient Egypt; it was also used by both the Greeks and the Romans to symbolize happiness. The Greeks used marjoram in their wreaths and garlands called it “joy of the mountain.”

Marjoram flavor profile

The flavor of marjoram can be described as being warm and reminiscent of sage with pine and citrus notes. It offers a more complex mix of flavors when compared to oregano. It is also known for being more delicate when compared to its cousin. It lacks the spicy undertones that oregano can provide. As a result, most experts suggest that this herb be used mainly in lighter dishes like those that feature chicken or fish. It is widely used in fish sauces as well as in tomato-based sauces.

cooking with marjoram

Health benefits of marjoram

  • Marjoram is packed with nutrients. Marjoram is an excellent addition to a healthy diet and can provide you with vitamin A and C as well as minerals like calcium and iron. Two tablespoons of marjoram can provide almost 20 percent of your daily recommended allowance of iron.
  • It improves digestion. Along with the nutritional benefits, marjoram provides digestive benefits as well. Two to four cups of marjoram tea can aid your digestion by increasing digestive enzymes and calming the stomach. In addition to that, it can eliminate flatulence and it is an antibacterial agent may prevent intestinal infections. Marjoram tea is also used to get relief from constipation and diarrhea.
  • It protects against illness. Marjoram’s antibacterial and antiviral properties enable it to protect against a range of illnesses including staph, food poisoning and the common cold.
  • Marjoram provides a cardiovascular health boost. Marjoram lowers blood pressure, which reduces the risk of associated heart problems. It also reduces the risk of atherosclerosis by reducing the buildup of cholesterol in the arteries.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties. It fights a number of conditions associated with inflammation including asthma, migraines and body aches. It can also be applied topically to ease joint pain and muscle soreness.
  • Marjoram has sedative effects. Marjoram can relieve insomnia, lower stress and help you to control your emotions. It can also work as an antidepressant when taken at higher dosages.

Common uses of marjoram

Both the leaves and flowers of this herb can be used fresh or dried and the dried form is sometimes ground into a powder. Use it to flavor beef, veal, and lamb as well as poultry and fish. Along with tomato-based dishes, it is used to flavor mushroom-based sauces and vinegar as well. You should add it to dishes at the last moment as long braising can cause its essential oils to evaporate which results in both loss of flavor and nutritional benefits.