Herbs - Maiorana


Arabic Marzanjush
Chinese Ma yueh lan hua
Danish Merian
Dutch Marjolein
English Sweet marjoram, Knotted marjoram
German Majoran, Wurstkraut, Maigram, Mairan
Italian Maggiorana, Persa
Japanese Mayorana
Norwegian Merian
Spanish Almaraco, Amaaraco, Mejorana
Swedish Mejram

origin stems from Asia Minor. Since it is a popular spice, it is cultivated not only in Mediterranean countries, but also in Central and Eastern Europe, although best qualities require a fairly hot climate.

Aromatic and slightly bitter, marjoram is not much olfactory resemblance to the botanical related oregano. The used plant part is the Leaves. It belongs to Lamiaceae family (mint family).

Main Constituents

content of essential oil depends on soil, climate and season, but generally lies between 0.7% and 3.5%. The main aroma component is a bicyclic monoterpene alcohol, cis-sabinene hydrate (max. 40%); furthermore, alpha-terpinene, 4-terpineol, alpha-terpineol, terpinenyl-4-acetate and 1,8-cineol are found in significant amounts. Phenolic compounds, which make up for the typical fragrance of the closely related oregano, are missing altogether.

It's usage all over the world

Similar to tarragon (botanical not related), marjoram is a spice which on one hand needs a warm climate to develop its specific aroma, but on the other hand loses some fragrance when dried. Despite these deficiencies, is a well-established culinary herb in Central Europe. Dried marjoram is extremely important in industrial food processing and is much used, together with thyme, in spice mixtures for the production of sausages; in Germany, where a great variety of sausages is produced, it is thus called "sausage herb". Furthermore, application of marjoram to boiled or fried liver is somewhat classical.

Yet marjoram also has its place in vegetable dishes; it is mostly recommended for rather heavy vegetables like legumes or cabbage. Fried potatoes spiced with liberal amounts of marjoram are delicious. Fresh marjoram, on the other side, is more popular in South European cooking styles. Because of its lesser fragrance in cold climate, its usage in other regions may end in serious disappointment. Fresh marjoram may add new accents to the French fine herbs and is frequently suggested for delicate fish dishes; it should be added shortly before serving. Only in less subtly flavored dishes (like Italian tomato sauces spiced with garlic), fresh Organo may substitute fresh marjoram. Although this usage is not mentioned in cookbooks, fresh marjoram is well suited for the French bouquet garni.

Dried marjoram is not a usual component of spice mixtures; yet it makes a good alternative for thyme in both the Southern French herbes de Provençe and the Syrian mixture zahtar. The marjoram grown in Westarn Asia is much more aromatic than the European variety; its flavor ranges between European marjoram and Organo . The term zahtar may refer either to the spice mixture or to this powerful herb alone.

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