Helpful Herbs: Marjoram
Sweet smelling, fast growing, and always helpful, Marjoram is an easy plant to add to your garden, and it is sure to reward you. Similar to Oregano, Marjoram is in the same genus but a distinct species that has its own unique flavor and uses.
Considered a "tender perennial", Marjoram is often grown in pots so it can be brought in during the cold winter months. Started from seeds, or purchased as seedlings, Marjoram likes full sun and well drained soil. It requires only occasional watering and rare fertilization. Unlikely to survive a hard frost, this herb makes a perfect addition to a potted kitchen garden. Because it is so easy to care for, and drought tolerant, Marjoram is an ideal plant for the beginning gardener.
Marjoram produces knotty white flowers that are favorite of the bees. Before they blossom is the ideal time to harvest their leaves, which can be cut and dried in a dark, dry area. The dried leaves can be used in herb combinations, made into essential oils, or used in teas and salves.
Marjoram is a fantastic kitchen herb, used in hundreds of recipes. It is often included in the mixture "Herbes de Porvence". It can be added to roasts, vegetable fries, and preserved meats for extra flavor, and is great for adding depth to tomato dishes. You can sprinkle Marjoram over a pizza or include it in chili. The subtle, earthy flavor allows it to compliment delicate dishes like fish, and it can be put in a butter compound and used to add a savoriness for any dish. There are even recipes for sweet, buttery cookies using Marjoram.
Marjoram tea is both delicious with a touch of honey, and very healthy. The tea is used to reduce symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, and can be taken regularly as an antidepressant. Marjoram essential oil is used topically to heal bruises and aches, such as toothaches and cramps. While Marjoram is good for painful joints and digestive health, its main benefits are neurological. The herb relieves insomnia, reduces stress, and is even said to be an aphrodisiac.
In Ancient Greece, Marjoram was used as a cure for convulsions and anxiety, and it made a popular tea in the Middle Ages. Greeks crowned young lovers with Marjoram, considering the herb to be a symbol of happiness, and called it "the joy of the mountains".
Because of its sweet smell, Marjoram was prized as a perfume in the 15th and 16th Centuries, and was cultivated for its saccharine odor. Marjoram can be used as a dye, and once was a common way to turn clothes purple and reddish brown. However, because it is not as durable as other dyes, it has fallen out of favor.
A common ingredient in love potions, Marjoram's reputation as a romantic herb (probably because of its aphrodisiac powers) continued, and in Medieval Europe it was said a lady would dream of her future lover if she put Marjoram under her pillow at night. When hops were first discovered, Marjoram was used to brew and flavor beers.
Tasty, useful, and healthy, Marjoram is a simple herb with rich benefits. A few sprigs in a container or planted in your herb garden will thrive easily, and you can enjoy the advantages.