Experts describe oregano’s flavor as being both floral and earthy with lemon and camphor notes.Aside from the fact that marjoram is sweeter and less earthy, the flavors are actually very similar as long as you allow for the differences in pungency.It is arguably the most popular herb in Mediterranean cuisine and you can find it in recipes for a large number of Greek and Italian dishes.In the US, most people will recognize oregano due to its starring roles in pizza and marinara sauces but it is also widely used for poultry stuffing.Marjoram is a more common ingredient in English and French cuisines where it is included in some liqueurs and beers.Other traditional preparations that require marjoram include stews, cheese sauces, and seafood. .
What Is Oregano and How Is It Used?
Oregano is a familiar herb that many people know from dishes such as pizza and pasta sauce.One of the most widely-used herbs worldwide, it is found in Mediterranean and Mexican cuisine and is even one of the components of chili powder.The plant has tiny leaves that lend a pungent aroma and strong flavor to a variety of savory foods.Common oregano is botanically known as Origanum vulgare, Greek for "joy of the mountains.".It can be found growing wild on mountainsides of Greece and other Mediterranean countries where it is a herb of choice.It was relatively unused in America until returning World War II soldiers heightened the popularity of pizza.In fact, sales of oregano increased by 5,200 percent between 1948 and 1956 due to pizza mania.If you are making your own chili powder, use Mexican oregano for its strong, peppery flavor.Marjoram's gentler flavor is sweeter than oregano, which is slightly woodsy with a warm and aromatic taste.Fresh oregano is commonly used in a bouquet garni for making stocks and soups.Garlic, onion, thyme, basil, parsley, and olive oil are common complementary seasoning partners with oregano.The beautiful green herb adds a delicious, and perhaps unexpected, earthy flavor to several dishes including chicken, seafood, hamburgers, even beans.Dried oregano is readily available in small bottles in the spice section of the supermarket, and you can find it in bulk at warehouse stores.It should be used quickly, but if you include a slightly damp paper towel in the bag it might last for up to a week. .
Oregano...or is it Marjoram?
As I began to do my research for this article, I discovered that there is a lot of confusion about Oregano and Marjoram, not only in how things are labeled at the nurseries, but among the experts as well.Pot marjoram (Origanum onites) is another variety, but even this causes confusion, sometimes being called Cretan oregano because of its place of origin.Plants belonging to this family are easily recognized by their square stems and opposing pairs of leaves.The flower buds at the end of the stems are covered with modified leaves called bracts which gives them the appearance, until they blossom, of tiny green pine cones.In general, the leaves of marjoram tend to be softer in color, more gray green, and smaller in size.Although oregano is considered to be a perennial herb, marjoram's more delicate character has it classified as a summer annual in most regions.Start both herbs either from seed in spring, from cuttings in the summer or root divisions in the fall.Rosemary, sage and thyme work well together in pots along with oregano -- they all like the same moisture level, and they are often used together in cooking.Whether planted in pots or the ground, be sure to keep the flower buds pinched back to keep them from getting rangy and going to seed.Given the proper conditions, you should be able to harvest leaves until the first frost (if outdoors) or all year long, if in pots inside.Use marjoram's fresh taste to enhance salad dressings, seafood sauces, soups, and poultry.A chicken that has been rubbed with garlic, salt, course black pepper and marjoram, then grilled makes a quick and delectable summer treat -- one of my favorites.Oregano's pungent, spicy flavor makes it a perfect match for tomato based sauces, eggplant, seafood, and grilled meats.Italian dishes are practically synonymous with oregano; it is hard to imagine pasta sauce or pizza without it.Ancients Greeks used to let their cattle graze on fields of oregano, in the belief that it produced tastier meat.Both the ancient Greeks and Romans would crown bridal couples with wreaths of marjoram to symbolize love, honor and happiness.This polenta makes a quick and delicious accompaniment for grilled meat or fish, yet is substantial enough to be a light summer lunch when topped with fresh tomato coulis and grated Parmesan cheese.Add the polenta in a steady stream, stirring constantly, and reduce heat to a simmer. .
Key differeneces between Marjoram and Oregano
Combine that with the fact that oregano and marjoram cross very easily when grown together (unlikely in the wild but very common in gardens) and you have an almost impossible identification problem.In technical terms, the difference between marjoram and oregano is based on the shape of the calyx and not the leaves, how hairy they are or the growth habit.So all the articles in books and on the internet which explain the difference between oregano and marjoram as the leaf shape, the amount of hairs on the stems, the growth habit etc are wrong, in actual fact it comes down to the shape and form of the calyx.Marjoram may well die if exposed to frosts for any length of time so is often grown anew every year.Because of the similarities between the two herbs some seed merchants do not distinguish, or blur the boundaries, between the two and those are companies to avoid.The naming conventions used over the last two hundred years have changed and this is perhaps the key reason why oregano and marjoram are so often confused.Pizza, pasta and tomato sauces are probably the most famous recipes in which oregano plays an important role but it is widely used in many other Italian, Greek and Mexican dishes including chillies.Taste is a personal matter but often a mixture of both herbs is the ideal flavouring for many recipes. .
Real Food Encyclopedia
Our season-less modern food system means that herbs are shipped from California, Mexico and Latin America to grocery stores all year round, but we promise, nothing beats the freshest herbs, and that means grown near you.Oregano and marjoram are perennial herbs that flourish in warm sunny weather, revealing their Mediterranean origins. .
Wild marjoram: how to identify and grow it
The edges of the leaves are smooth or very shallowly toothed and are covered in fine hairs. .
Best Thyme Substitutes
At the fair, all sorts of merchants, farmers, entertainers, and visitors would gather for food, drink, revelry, and, yes, stocking up on herbs.Back then, herbs were prized for their numerous purported medicinal and healing powers: parsley, for settling the stomach and curing toothaches; sage, to treat epilepsy, liver failure, and fevers; rosemary, for everything from cleaning teeth to warding off evil spirits.Thyme, the most powerful of them all, was long associated with courage, bravery, and strength on the battlefield; it was known to be an antidote to poison, a preventer of the plague, and a lot more.Nowadays, though you might see thyme in the ingredients lists of some of your favorite hygiene and beauty products (that's thanks to thymol, a naturally-occurring chemical found in thyme oil, that has antimicrobial and antifungal properties), it's more likely that you'll see it in recipes for roast chicken, turkey, or stuffing, or as an ingredient in any number of dried poultry spice blends.Thyme, or Thymus vulgaris, is an herb originally from the Mediterranean region that's in the same family as oregano, basil, mint, and shiso.To use fresh thyme in recipes, gently pull the leaves off of the stems (as instructed here), chop up finely, and use liberally.Any number of fresh herbs (and their dried derivatives) work as a substitute for thyme in sweet and savory recipes.Fresh or dried, oregano hits many of the same earthy, minty, savory and slightly bitter notes as thyme.A warning, though: because a few of these contain powdered aromatics, or dried seeds, you may not want to include these in sweet recipes that call for thyme.Hailing from the Levant region, za'atar generally contains dried thyme, oregano, marjoram, sometimes lemony sumac, and toasted sesame seeds and salt.It's got a very distinctive flavor, so you might want to start adding it a little bit at a thyme (pun very much intended) as you're swapping it in a dish. .