Ground Marjoram: Flavor Profile
Marjoram – which is closely related to oregano – is a favorite herb used in European and Middle Eastern cooking. The herb is revered for its sweet, slightly spicy flavor, which is often likened to a milder version of oregano. That’s why it makes a great oregano substitute.
The herb is most widely used in Mediterranean countries. Marjoram is found in popular herb blends like Herbes de Provence, and it pairs perfectly with roasted meats, tomato- and butter-based sauces, and fish. Ground marjoram is also a popular choice in rubs, providing a nice even coat of herbaceous flavor to roasted and grilled meats.
Cooking with Ground Marjoram
Marjoram is a versatile herb. Not only is it a great substitute for oregano, it also pairs nicely with rosemary, thyme and basil. Ground marjoram is particularly useful in stews, soups and sauces. Yet, if you’re substituting it for dried leaf, you’ll only want to use about half the amount. A few common uses include:
- Sauces – Marjoram provides a sweet, herby spice that’s perfect in a wide range of sauces. The herb works well in tomato-based sauces, including pizza sauce and marinara, as well as buttery sauces like a creamy garlic butter sauce.
- Rubs – Ground marjoram works better than dried leaf in rubs. The ground leaves provide a nice even coat of herbs. In North African cooking, ground marjoram is a popular choice for seasoning lamb and mutton.
- Sausages – Marjoram is sometimes called “sausage spice” in Germany, and it’s used, along with fennel, rosemary and thyme, to spice many German and Polish sausages. Ground marjoram works best for sausage seasoning.
- Stews and Soups – Marjoram is often called for in soup and stew recipes. The herb adds complexity and fresh herb notes to long-simmering stews.
One tip: Marjoram is a delicate herb, that’s volatile in high heat. To preserve its full flavor add ground or dried marjoram later in the cooking process. It’s often best as a finishing spice.
Marjoram is believed to have originated in southern Turkey and Cyprus, and it has a long history as a culinary, medicinal and spiritual herb. The ancient Greeks associated marjoram with happiness and love. In fact, in ancient Greek, marjoram was used in wedding ceremonies. Young couples wore a crown of the herb, as they believed it brought happiness and prosperity.
This idea seems to have stuck, as throughout the ages, the sweet herb has been a symbol of happiness. In the Middle Ages, young girls would cast love spells using marjoram, and some even placed it under their pillows at night, as the herb was believed to conjure dreams of their future husbands.
As a medicine, the Greeks and Romans used marjoram for a number of conditions. It, like mint and oregano, can help to sooth the stomach and it was a popular addition to herbal teas.
In England, marjoram used until the 1800s in tobacco products. The minty aroma of the herb made it a popular ingredient in snuffs. And the English also used marjoram as a spice for ales. The herb’s natural sweetness helped compliment hobs, and also acted as a preservative.
Marjoram is a slow-growing perennial that thrives in warm climates. You’ll find it growing in home gardens throughout the Mediterranean, especially in Italy, Turkey and Greece.
A spring bloomer, marjoram sprouts sprigs with oblong pale green leaves. The plant, when growing, closely resembles oregano, which is where it gets the nickname “wild oregano.” Marjoram plants typically grow to about a foot in height, and they produce a pale pink flower.
Harvesters will pinch back buds throughout the growing season to promote new leaves to grow. The leaves can be harvested throughout the growing season. Harvesters will cut back about 1/3 of the plant, and remove the leaves from the fleshy stems. Today, most marjoram leaves are dried using commercial dehydrators.
About Our Ground Marjoram
We source our marjoram from small herb farms in California’s Central Valley. The valley consistently produces some of the most robust and flavorful marjoram in the world.
We purchase dried leaves in bulk, and we hand grind them in our spice shop. We use a 30 mesh to deliver a smooth, fine consistency.