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HERBS

Sweet Marjoram

Origanum majorana

By Shirley Miller
Sweet Marjoram
Origanum majorana, Lamiaceae

Marjoram is a herbaceous or shrubby tender perennial, with tiny white or mauve flowers. The leaves are oval, pointed, mid to dark green and aromatic. Marjoram grows from 6 inches to 2 feet in height. Some compact species make ideal container plants.

How to grow - Marjoram needs sun to develop its full flavor, however, protection from hot afternoon sun is recommended. Plant in well drained, dry, mildly alkaline soil. Provide nutrients throughout the growing season. Marjoram develops a stronger flavor when planted in nutrient rich soil. Thin seedlings to 12 inches apart.

Propagation - Propagate Marjoram by planting seeds early in spring. Germination is slow. Take stem cuttings from spring to early fall. Divide in spring.

Harvesting - Pick young leaves any time. If using for storage, pick leaves just before the blossoms open.

Preserving - Dry or freeze individual leaves. Dry flowering tops. As with most herbs, after drying, store in well sealed glass containers. Infuse in oil or vinegar.

Culinary uses - Greeks have used this native herb since ancient times. The leaf can be used to make tea. Marjoram combines well with tomato dishes and is vital for use in meat dishes such as meatloaf and sausage. Chop the leaves finely, add to butter and use on fish. Use in salads, egg and cheese dishes and in pizza and pasta sauces. Rub crushed leaves on poultry and roasting meat. Mix Marjoram with bread crumbs and stuff fresh haddock.

Other uses - Lay Marjoram stems on charcoal fire to impart a subtle flavor. Use in Potpourri. Marjoram blossoms attract honeybees.