Is it oregano or marjoramtheir appearance, growth, and use, are so similar. Until recently, oregano was called wild marjoram and marjoram Origanum marjorana. Author Steven Foster, Herbal Bounty, claims oregano “more properly refers to flavor rather than a particular plant.” Susan Belsinger and Carolyn Dille, Cooking with Herbs, identify its flavor as spicier than marjoram, with hints of clover and balsam. Seed catalogs list culinary oregano as Oregano heracleotium, O. vulare, and O. onites. Even after finding one that pleases your palate, growing and cooking with oregano can, like Columbus go wrong.
One of the most important conditions for cultivating healthy oregano is hot, dry weather; the herb grown in shadier, cooler locations loses much of its flavor and fragrance. Fresh leaves are green with a yellowish tinge, more oval, pointed, and larger than marjoram’s, and flower from white to pink. In the kitchen, most of oregano’s spicy clover-like taste is lost the moment it is heated. Used with a last-minute gentle touch, oregano marries well with basil and garlic to the delight of tomato, eggplant and zucchini, beef, chicken, pasta and cheese dishes.

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