za'atar, anyone?

batyabethMarch 7, 2009

The argument over what Za'atar is in English is convoluted. Web search turned this up:

translations "include Origanum majorana (sweet marjoram), Origanum syriacum (also known as Biblical hyssop, Syrian oregano and wild marjoram), and Thymus capitatus (thyme). Za'atar barri ("wild za'atar") is identified as Origanum vulgare which in English can refer to European oregano, oregano, pot marjoram, wild marjoram, winter marjoram, and wintersweet"

Whatever it is, I have a plant (responsibly wild crafted from a mountainside) that has been happy and abundant in a pot for years. Since we're moving in June, when it's hot as h*!! and dry here, I've been advised to start now putting things into pots while the weather is still reasonable and just a bit rainy. It was so pot bound it took me over an hour of gentle convincing to get it out. It got a major haircut, and put into a much bigger pot. Will it live or die? One can only hope. Now I have a MOUND of fresh stuff for drying and making into a yummy condiment also called za'atar, dried leaves mixed with sesame, sumac and olive oil.

Keeping fingers and toes crossed for the lavender, out of the ground and potted, plus a young wild bay laurel that I found growing near the compost. That got potted too. The other wild bay is a small tree and I doubt I'll be able to move it. My only (?) problem now is how to uproot and move the monster aloe. The new owners are going to destroy the entire garden and put in concrete, so my 10 yr. old paradise must be moved plant by plant to my new place.


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Here's my recipe for Za'atar - I am very fond of sumac!

1 cup sumac
2 cups roasted, ground sesame seeds
1/2 cup dried ground thyme
2 tablespoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons dried marjoram
2 tablespoons dried savory
1 tablespoon salt, or to taste (optional)

Mix all the ingredients together except the salt. Taste and add the salt if desired. Keep the zaatar mix in a tightly closed jar (the sesame seeds will last 6 months maximum); it will stay fresher in the refrigerator or freezer than at room temperature. Use as a dip for pita bread. To serve, dip pieces of bread into a bowl of olive oil, then into the zaÂatar, and eat.

And I've always puzzled over the inclusion of both oregano and marjoram in the recipe - I've always used the two interchangeably, and can't tell the difference between the two in a dish! So I just use Origanum vulgare (common oregano) in the recipe. Marjoram is a closely related, but different, plant - Origanum majorana - which is a little less rampant than oregano.

What species of aloe do you have? If it's Aloe vera, you can just take one of the many 'pups' (off-shoots).

You might shed tears over leaving your beloved garden, but I hope the move goes well, and you get to create another one in your new home! Meanwhile, continue by taking as many cuttings and divisions as you can! Sounds like you're doing OK so far.

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 5:24PM
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ksrogers(EasternMass Z6)

Source for a Zatar blend

Here is a link that might be useful: Zatar spice blend

    Bookmark   March 7, 2009 at 6:53PM
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