A delightful culinary herb belonging to the Lamiaceae family, along with its more renowned cousin, oregano.

There are three main varieties of marjoram that are of interest to the cook. Sweet marjoram (Origanum majorana), pot marjoram (O. onites) and winter marjoram (O. heraclesticum). The most readily available and commonly used variety is sweet marjoram.

Marjoram is a small perennial shrub, growing to a height of 40 cm (15 in), with dense foliage consisting of small oval shaped leaves, around 3 cm long. It bears tiny white flowers similar to the very closely related oregano. The plant is native to the Mediterranean and has been an important culinary and medicinal herb in the region for thousands of years.

The flavour of marjoram is slightly more delicate than oregano, with subtle camphor overtones that have a tasty floral nature. Used fresh, it has a wonderful affinity with subtle tastes, such as seafood, poultry and eggs. Fresh marjoram strewn through an omelette is a sensational match.

Marjoram has the ability to dry very well and actually increases in flavour once dried. Dried marjoram is a common ingredient in stuffings for poultry and marries well to lighter tasting meat dishes, such as pork and veal.

Marjoram - Majorana hortensis

Sweet marjoram occurs in both annual and perennial varieties. The stem is square and branched and is downy with grey hair. The plant bears small, opposite, elliptical leaves which also appear grey due to downy hair. The flowers appear in small clusters from July to September and are pale red or white in colour.

Marjoram's properties are antispasmodic, calmative, carminative, diaphoretic, expectorant, stomachic and tonic. When prepared as an infusion and taken internally, the fresh herb is beneficial for upset stomachs, indigestion, headache, colic, nervous conditions, coughs, whooping cough and other respitory complaints. It will also relieve menstrual cramps and can regulate the menstrual cycle. To this end, it makes an excellent remedy for abdominal pain when blended with chamomile. Another use for a marjoram infusion is to prevent seasickness , and will also act to calm the stomach. A macerated oil, when used in a lotion, can be used to treat varicose veins, gout, rheumatism and stiff joints.

Mar"jo*ram (?), n. [OE. majoran, F. marjolaine, LL. marjoraca, fr. L. amaracus, amaracum, Gr. , .] Bot.

A genus of mintlike plants (Origanum) comprising about twenty-five species. The sweet marjoram (O. Majorana) is pecularly aromatic and fragrant, and much used in cookery. The wild marjoram of Europe and America is O. vulgare, far less fragrant than the other.

 

© Webster 1913.

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