Oregano? Marjoram? Which is it?

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I remember when I was 5 years old and waiting for Christmas.  It was never going to arrive.  It was taking FOREVER!

My mother warned me that someday I would wish that days were longer and weeks longer still.  With the omnipotence of a child I KNEW that would never happen to me….  I was wrong…. Sorry, mom!

Once again: It's time for Weekend Herb Blogging! Kalyn, the founder of this event, notes that it's # 80!  How time flies when you're having fun! 

This week is being hosted by Glenna of A Fridge Full of Food.  Stop by her blog on Monday for the full recap of what's cooking around the world – in an herby way, of course.Oregano

In my little herb garden back in Minnesota I grew oregano and marjoram. Two different packets of seeds; two different names.   Frankly, I had a heard time telling them apart. 

I still do!  My Italian s-i-l says that the taller plant in the back is marjoram and the short, compact one in front is true oregano. 

The taller one is American oregano that looks exactly like French marjoram.  The short one is French oregano.  Simple, non?

No.  All of my herb books (I have rather a lot of them….) show both oregano and marjoram as looking more like the tall plant, both leaves and flowers.  The difference, they say, is that marjoram is the cultivated variety of the wild oregano.Herbs

Well, I say 'Bugger it!'   They both taste good, call them what you will.   And, this time of year, before the basil is ready, they are both perfect.  The leaves are young, tender and full of flavor.

They are also good for us – full of antioxidants as so many green plants are.  It  also has some use as a medicinal plant and as a food preservative.

Okay, here's a side note for all of you careful readers:  In French something used to preserve food is  'conservateur'.  'Preservatif' is a condom. 
We do not put condoms in our strawberry jam!

Grilled Pork Chops with Spinach and White Bean Salad

2 pork chops
1 cup tomato sauce – 8 oz, (220 ml)Porkchopsalad_2
3 cloves garlic
3 tbs red wine vinegar
3 tbs olive oil, the good stuff…for salads
1 tbs fresh oregano
1 tbs fresh marjoram
2 tbs fresh garlic chives
1 small can, 8 oz, (225gr) white beans
fresh spinach for a salad for two, 8 oz?
1 tomato
1 red onion
1 tbs Dijon mustard
2 tsp cornstarch (maizena)

Wash and tear spinach for salad.  Drain and rinse beans.  Mince garlic.  Thinly slice red onion.  Slice tomato.  Mix tomato sauce, garlic, 1 tbs oil, 1 tbs vinegar, 1 tsp marjoram, 1 tsp oregano in shallow baking dish.  Add chops and allow to marinate while preparing salad.  In deep bowl mix remaining vinegar, oil, and herbs.  Add mustard and whisk well to combine.  Add onion and toss well.  Cook pork chops (reserve marinade) on barbecue grill or broil (grill) for 6 – 8 minutes per side, depending on thickness, until done. While chops are cooking mix cornstarch into reserved marinade in a small sauce pan.  Bring marinade to a simmer over medium heat, stirring until thickened.  When chops are almost done add the beans and spinach to the vinaigrette/onions and toss well to combine.  Arrange salad on plate.  Add sliced tomatoes.  Put 1 chop next to salad and serve with sauce on the side.

BTW, garlic chives, which are in the picture with the marjoram/oregano leaves, are also know as Chinese chives.  They get very pretty, tall white flowers mid-summer.  Because we have a long growing season here I regularly cut both kinds of chives back to about 3 inches: right after the first flowering and then about every 4 weeks all summer.  I stagger the cutting so I always have some freshly cut; others ready to use. 

Bon Weekend!

14 thoughts on “Oregano? Marjoram? Which is it?”

  1. The condom part was a riot-do people really confuse the word …….too, too, funny! How wonderful to have as many herbs as you do and to have them for that long of a duration…..Cheers!

  2. I’ve read about this oregano-marjoram debate so this year I’m going to buy a plant labeled “marjoram” and see what I think. The other new herb for me this year is going to be tarragon. Never tried growing it. Your garden looks so wonderful, and you’re always making such wonderful things with your fresh herbs too. If I ever get to come to France I hope you’ll make a dinner for me! Wouldn’t that be fun!

  3. Oh, my those pork chops do look terrific. I didn’t realize the oregano, majoram relation! I always enjoy your revelations like that! I’ve grown several types of oregano over the years but never had majoram that I remember.

  4. Back again to report that I did buy marjoram, and I got variegated marjoram, which looks very pretty. I’ll let you know how it tastes.

  5. Glenna, Gattina, I’m still clueless – I think I’ll have to go to Italy to get it sorted out (any excuse to travel)
    Kalyn, Variegated marjoram does sound pretty – I have one plant of variegated oregano (?), the French version, so it’s short and compact – and hidden by the marjoram. And if/when you get to France I would absolutely love to have you visit: we have a gite ( holiday apartment) on the property and dinner would be such fun!
    Tanna, did your oregano look like mine – or like my marjoram? Thankfully their tastes are similar?

  6. Well nice to see that I´m not the only one always puzzling about these herbs. Thanks for the infos and the great story. A nice kitchen garden you have!! 🙂

  7. Confusing indeed. I’ve kind of decided that marjoram is the local wild herb, and oregano is the imported Southern European herb. Works for me..
    And ‘preservatif’ means the same thing in Estonian (preservatiiv) as it does in France. I was a bit confused about ‘preservatives’ in my jam when I first moved to Scotland:)

  8. Thanks, Helene and Mimi,
    Pille, some words can be tricky for us foreigners…but those are other stories. It does create some hilarious pictures, though!

  9. Your recipes look and sound wonderful. I can’t wait to try one out, especially this pork chop and salad. Great photos, by the way.

  10. Where are the weeds in your garden? It makes mine look really bad. I find marjoram sweeter than oregano. My large oregano completely died last year and I am trying them both anew. I have never cut back either type of chives, but might give it a try. Great photos!

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