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Za’atar is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs.

Images of Za’atar at

Za’atar is a generic name for a family of related Middle Eastern herbs.

Overview of Za’atar

• It is related to the family from the genera Origanum (Oregano), Calamintha (Basil thyme), Thymus.
• The name za’atar alone most properly applies to Origanum syriacum.
• It is also the name for a condiment made from the dried herbs.
• The mixture is made out of sesame seeds, dried sumac, and often salt, as well as other spices.
• It is used in Arab cuisine.
• It is both a herb and a spice mixture are popular throughout the Middle East.
• Za’atar is generally prepared using ground dried thyme, oregano, marjoram mixed with toasted sesame seeds, and salt.
• Some commercial varieties also include roasted flour.
• Some varieties may add savory, cumin, coriander or fennel seed.
• A Lebanese variety sometimes contains sumac berries, and has a distinct dark red color.
• Za’atar is both the herb and the condiment.
• It is popular in Armenia, Iran, Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Palestinian territories, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, and Turkey.
• Za’atar is used as a seasoning for meats and vegetables.
• It is also sprinkled onto hummus.
• A salad made of fresh za’atar leaves.
• Za’atar makes the mind alert and the body strong.

Growing and caring conditions of Za’atar

• Plant oregano in the sunniest spot in the garden.
• This perennial prefers all-day sun.
• It needs well-drained soil on the dry side.
• Purchase seedlings from a local nursery, as the plant grows poorly from seed.
• Place the oregano seedlings 1/8-inch deep into soil after all danger of frost has passed.
• Each plant should have at least 8 inches of elbow room.
• Weed the area regularly.
• Apply an 8-inch thick layer of hay over the bed to protect against weed growth.
• Harvest fresh oregano for use through the season.
• Cut the remainder of the plant when small white flowers appear.
• Hang clumps of the herb in a warm, dark room until dry.
• Use only the crumbled leaves in cooking.
• Store the unused leaves in an airtight container.
• Discard the stems.
• Italian oregano grows well in containers.
• Oregano is a deterrent to some types of garden pests and can aid in controlling them naturally.
• Oregano plants can be cultivated in part shade.
• If growing from seeds, plant seeds 1/4-inch deep.
• Plant nursery stock about 18 inches apart.
• If you have planted from seed, thin established seedlings to 12 inches apart.
• Harvest your oregano in mid-spring, just before the flowers open.
• Cut off the top 6 inches of the stem and remove the leaves.
• Make sure to remove the mulch in early spring.
• Propagate oregano in mid-spring by dividing plants during peak growth, before flowers appear.

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