|Marjoram plant (sterile)|
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 Wurstkraut
Furthermore, application of marjoram to boiled or fried liver is somewhat
classical. Marjoram may be effectively combined with bay leaves; furthermore, it goes well with small
amounts of black pepper or juniper. Combinations of the last type are well suited
to ragoûts, particularly venison.
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 fines herbes (see chives) and is frequently suggested for delicate fish dishes; it should be added shortly before serving. Only in less subtly flavoured dishes (like Italian tomato sauces spiced with garlic), fresh marjoram may be substituted by fresh oregano. Although this usage is not mentioned in cookbooks, fresh marjoram is well suited for the French bouquet garni (see parsley).
In Western Asia, particularly in Jordan, Lebanon and Israel, a local marjoram relative (Majorana syriaca) is a common flavouring for grilled mutton and also used to flavour breads. This special marjoram is more aromatic than the European variant and ranges in flavour somewhere between marjoram and oregano. Throughout the region, this powerful herb is known as zahtar [زعتر], also transcribed zaatar or za'tar; yet in regions devoid of this particular marjoram, the same name or similar names are often employed for other related herbs. In Jordan, the zahtar herb is used to prepare a spice mixture known by the same name (see sumac); a similar zahtar blend [זעתר] is also popular in Israel.