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Marjoram

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Marjoram © Jim Stanfield

Marjoram

© Jim Stanfield

Greek name and pronunciation:

Mantzourana, μαντζουράνα, pronounced mahnd-zoo-RAH-nah, also spelled matzourana (ματζουράνα), and pronounced mahd-zoo-RAH-nah

At the market:

Marjoram is usually available as whole dried leaves and floral parts, and in powdered form. Fresh marjoram is sometimes available at green grocers. If you have space in your kitchen, in your garden, on a window sill, you could easily grow your own.

Physical characteristics:

Marjoram leaves are light grayish-green and oval-spade shape. Marjoram is often confused with oregano, but it has a milder and slightly sweet flavor.

Usage:

Marjoram works well as a flavoring agent in sausages, lamb, beef, pork, chicken, fish, tomato dishes, stuffings, breads, salad dressings, and chowders. It is also used in soaps and herbal wreaths.

Substitutes:

oregano, but use less

Origin, History, and Mythology:

Marjoram probably originated in Greece. Today Egypt is the major exporter and it is cultivated worldwide.

Both oregano and marjoram are members of the mint family. Many botanists consider marjoram a variety of oregano.

Ancient Greeks planted marjoram on the graves of their beloved in the belief that by doing so the deceased would enjoy eternal peace and happiness. Hippocrates ascribed several medical uses to marjoram. Marjoram was one of the herbs and spices used by the ancient Egyptians in the embalming process. Ancient Greeks and Romans made head wreaths of marjoram for wedding couples as a symbol of love, honor, and happiness.

Medicinally, marjoram is used as a steam inhalant to clear the sinuses and relieve laryngitis. Marjoram tea sweetened with honey helps preserve the voice of professional singers.

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