Za’atar Preserved in Olive Oil

Muzna Bishara

2 weeks

250ml/ 8.5 fl oz sterilized jar

Photo by Matan Choufan

This is a traditional recipe for preserving fresh hyssop leaves, as the oil prevents the leaves from oxidizing or spoiling. The cured hyssop leaves are best eaten with a warm pita or served over labneh cheese.

This recipe is featured in the article “For Muzna Bishara, Za’atar Is the Scent of Winter.”


  • 150 grams fresh hyssop or oregano leaves
  • Spices to taste such as whole dried chili, allspice peppercorns, bay leaves, coriander seeds, mustard seeds
  • 1½ tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and diced
  • 2 hot chili peppers, lightly scored
  • 1 whole lemon, scrubbed clean and sliced to ½-inch / 1-cm rounds
  • Olive oil, to cover


  1. Wash the leaves, shake well to get rid of excess water and dry on a towel.
  2. Mix the hyssop leaves, spices and coarse salt in a bowl. Bruise the leaves slightly with the mixing spoon and let stand for 10 minutes. Add all the remaining ingredients to the bowl, except for the olive oil, mix well, and let stand for 20 minutes.
  3. Press the mixture tightly into a sterilized jar and pour olive oil to completely cover all the ingredients. Seal and let stand for 2-4 weeks before use. If the leaves are covered, the jar does not need to be refrigerated, but if at any point the leaves are not covered by oil, transfer to the refrigerator. 

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