Marjoram 101 – The Basics
The herb marjoram is also known as sweet marjoram. It is an aromatic herb in the mint family that has been grown in the Mediterranean, North African, and Western Asian regions for thousands of years. It is in the same plant family as oregano, but has a milder flavor. Marjoram is often used to garnish soups, salads, and meat dishes. Marjoram may be used dried or fresh. The flavor is described as being floral and woodsy.
Nutrition and Health Benefits of Marjoram
Marjoram has an impressive list of nutrients. It supplies a good amount of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6, folate, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, potassium, copper, and even some omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Marjoram also contains a number of compounds that have anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. These compounds include: eugenol sabinene, alpha-terpinene, cymene, terpinolene, linalool, cis-sabinene hydrate, linalyl acetate, terpinen-4-ol, and terpineol. Marjoram also contains carotenes, xanthins, and lutein, which are powerful antioxidants. These compounds work together to protect us from free radicals and other harmful molecules that play a role in aging and the development of a number of diseases, such as cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and cardiovascular disease.
The essential oils in marjoram have been found to have anti-fungal and anti-bacterial functions, inhibiting bacteria such as Staphylococcus, E. coli, Shigella, Proteus, and Pseudomonas.
Caution: Medicinal quantities of marjoram should not be ingested during pregnancy since it is known to increase menstrual flow.
How to Select Marjoram
When buying fresh marjoram, the herb will usually be packaged in a clear plastic container. Make sure it looks fresh with a bright color, and is not limp.
Dried marjoram can be found in the spice isle of most grocery stores. Look for the “Best by” date to determine the freshest option available.
How to Store Marjoram
Store fresh marjoram in the refrigerator. Wrap it in a damp paper towel or cloth. Loosely wrap that in plastic wrap or place it in an airtight container. When stored properly, fresh marjoram should last 10 to 14 days.
Another way to store fresh marjoram is to place the stems upright in a jar with the cut side down. Add a little water to the jar, place a plastic bag loosely over the stems and jar, and store it in the refrigerator.
Store dried marjoram in an airtight container in a cool, dry, dark place such as your pantry. For best flavor, use it within six months.
How to Freeze Marjoram
Fresh marjoram may be frozen. Wash the herbs, remove the leaves from the twigs, and chop the leaves, if desired. Allow it to dry completely. Once dry, place it in heavy-duty freezer bags and store them in the freezer. Use within 6 months for best flavor.
Washed and chopped marjoram may also be frozen in ice cube trays. Please a measured amount of your prepared herb in each cube section. Add a small amount of water and freezer. Transfer frozen cubes to an airtight container and return them to the freezer. For best quality use within 6 months. Note that marjoram kept constantly frozen at 0°F will keep safe indefinitely. The flavor may dwindle over time, but it will still be safe to consume.
Dried vs Fresh
Conversion Rate: Dried herbs are more concentrated in their flavors than their fresh counterparts. So, you need less of dried herbs than fresh in a recipe. The conversion rate is: 3 parts of fresh marjoram equals 1 part of dried. Example: 1 tablespoon of fresh chopped marjoram leaves = 1 teaspoon of dried marjoram leaves.
When to Add Marjoram: Since dried marjoram is more concentrated in its flavor, it should be added early in the cooking process. It will slowly release its flavor as it cooks. Since fresh marjoram is more tender and the flavors are not concentrated, add it toward the end of cooking so its flavor is not lost over time.
Raw vs Cooked Foods: When making a dish with raw foods, using fresh marjoram will give you best results. Its mild flavor will blend well with other foods without overpowering them. Also, if you want to add marjoram to a food that is only briefly cooked, like a quick stir-fry, fresh marjoram is called for. Its fresh, mild flavor will be released quickly and adorn your food without being lost over time.
Dried marjoram needs time to rehydrate and release its flavors. It’s more suited for foods that will be cooking for a longer time. Soups, stews, and sauces that will be simmered for a while will fare better with the dried version, since it will need time to release its flavors into the food. If you prefer to use fresh marjoram in foods that need more time to cook, add it at or near the end of cooking.
How to Prepare
Simply wash your fresh marjoram in cool water and shake off excess water. Remove the leaves from the stems and use as desired in your recipe. You may use whole stems with leaves attached when cooking soups, stews, or other foods where you can retrieve the stems before serving. Whole stems should not be served, as they can be a choking hazard.
Quick Ideas and Tips for Using Marjoram
* Try adding marjoram to cooked beans, peas, spinach, cauliflower, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots for a pleasant, aromatic flavor.
* Marjoram is especially good in vegetable soup, so be sure to add some in your next batch!
* Marjoram is good in salad dressings, especially when combined with lemon.
* In Mediterranean countries, marjoram tea is a popular drink. It is known to help relieve nausea and gas, and is believed to have mild antiseptic properties. To make marjoram tea: Boil 1 cup of water. Steep ¼ teaspoon of dried marjoram leaves for 3 minutes. Strain out the leaves and stir in 1 teaspoon of honey. Enjoy.
* When using fresh marjoram, remove the leaves from the twigs when preparing foods to be plated. When adding whole sprigs to soups or stews, remove them before serving (so you’re not serving hard-to-chew twigs to people).
* When using dried marjoram, add it early in the cooking process. The flavor of dried marjoram is concentrated and will slowly release its flavor as the food cooks.
* When using fresh marjoram, add it late in the cooking process, or when the food is finished cooking. Since the flavor of fresh marjoram is not as intense as that of the dried version, it will lose its flavor when cooked for a prolonged amount of time.
Herbs and Spices That Go Well with Marjoram
Basil, bay leaf, cumin, fennel seeds, garlic, oregano, paprika, parsley, rosemary, tarragon, thyme
Foods That Go Well with Marjoram
Proteins, Legumes, Nuts, Seeds: Beans (esp. green, lima), beef, black-eye peas, chicken, eggs, fish (seafood), lamb, pine nuts, pork, sausage, sugar snap peas, veal, walnuts
Vegetables: Artichokes, beets, bell peppers, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, chiles, eggplant, greens (deep leafy), onions, parsnips, potatoes, squash (winter and summer), tomatoes and tomato sauce
Fruits: Lemons, olive (esp. green), oranges
Grains and Grain Products: Corn, rice
Dairy and Non-Dairy: Butter, cheese (cottage, cream, goat, mozzarella, Parmesan)
Other Foods: Capers, oil, vinegar, wine
Marjoram has been used in the following cuisines and dishes…
Bouquets garnis, European cuisines, fines herbs, French cuisine, Greek cuisine, grilled dishes, Italian cuisine, marinades, Mediterranean cuisines, pastas, pizzas, Portuguese cuisine, ratatouille, salad dressings, salads (bean, green, pasta, tomato), sauces (barbecue, butter, marjoram, mushroom, pasta, tomato), soups (bean, onion, tomato, vegetable), spreads, stews, stuffings
Suggested Food and Flavor Combos Using Marjoram
Add marjoram to any of the following combinations…
Capers + green olives + parsley + pine nuts
Chiles + orange
Sautéed Carrots with Lemon and Marjoram https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/sauteed-carrots-lemon-and-marjoram
Wine-Baked Chicken Legs with Marjoram https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/wine-baked-chicken-legs-marjoram
Peppered Cornish Hens and Asparagus with Lemon and Marjoram https://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/peppered-cornish-hens-and-asparagus-lemon-and-marjoram
What is Marjoram Used for? And 2 Great Marjoram Recipes http://theherbexchange.com/what-is-marjoram-used-for-and-2-great-marjoram-recipes/
Marjoram Pea Pesto http://upasigo.com/2018/04/marjoram-pea-pesto-vegan/
Fresh Marjoram Soup https://www.soscuisine.com/recipe/fresh-marjoram-soup-vegetarian
Beef Stew with Dumplings https://www.thespruceeats.com/beef-stew-with-dumplings-481137
Easy Vegan Italian Herb Salad Dressing https://www.thespruceeats.com/vegan-italian-herb-salad-dressing-3377596
Oregano, Rosemary, and Marjoram Vinegar Recipe http://www.eatingwell.com/recipe/250612/oregano-rosemary-marjoram-vinegar/
Marjoram Roasted Potatoes https://www.marthastewart.com/1154116/marjoram-roasted-potatoes
Herbed Peas https://www.food.com/recipe/herbed-peas-216451
Lemony Green Bean Salad with Feta, Red Onion, and Marjoram https://food52.com/recipes/4766-lemony-green-bean-salad-with-feta-red-onion-and-marjoram
Truly Tender Meatballs in Rich Tomato Sauce https://food52.com/recipes/3049-truly-tender-meatballs-in-rich-tomato-sauce
Meg’s Marinated Mushrooms https://food52.com/recipes/11186-meg-s-marinated-mushrooms
Page, Karen. (2014) The Vegetarian Flavor Bible. New York, NY: Little, Brown and Company.
Julia W. Klee (Judi) began her journey enjoying “all things food” in elementary school when she started preparing meals for her family. That love of food blossomed into a quest to learn more and more about health and wellness as related to nutrition. She went on to earn a BS Degree in Food and Nutrition, then an MS Degree in Nutrition. She has taught nutrition and related courses at the college level to pre-nursing and exercise science students. Her hunger to learn didn’t stop upon graduation from college. She continues to research on a regular basis about nutrition as it relates to health. Her hope is to help as many people as possible to enjoy foods that promote health and wellness.