Marjoram & Oregano - How to Cook and Grow

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Confusion reigns when identifying marjoram and oregano, both the seeds and the young plants look identical and both are interchangeable in recipes. Both belong to the same family with oregano also known as wild marjoram and sweet marjoram and pot marjoram often being sold as oregano! There are many other species with some more suited to cooking than others. A personal favourite of mine is Greek oregano, a beautiful looking herb with a distinctive aroma and taste.

Greek Oregano

How to Grow

There are three or four varieties which can be grown from seed, I sow Greek oregano direct in late spring being careful not to over water as the seeds are particularly fine. Container growing is particularly good for oregano stopping the spread and making an effective hanging basket at the same time. Marjoram prefers a well-drained dry and chalky soil in a sunny part of the garden and need cutting back after flowering. A glut can be cut and dried for winter use or steeped into olive oil or good white wine vinegar.

How to Cook

Forget the dried oregano thrown on pizzas with reckless abandon, fresh marjoram strewn over grilled fish, lamb or vegetables with a squeeze of lemon is about as good as it gets. Swap the basil for some small leaves mixed in with your tomato salad or tossed together with chunks of good feta, pine nuts and olive oil. A pungent herb it should be used in moderation.

Content and picture Miles Collins