Epazote is a rather ordinary and weedy looking herb that is not well known, but it’s definitely worth growing a plant or two in the kitchen garden.
Although unheard of by most gardeners, this herb is easy to cultivate and can be found growing wild in many parts of the United States and Mexico. It also goes by the names of Mexican Tea and Wormseed.
Epazote Uses and Recipes
Epazote is reputed to have some beneficial medicinal uses, but it is better known as a culinary herb and is often used in Caribbean and Mexican cuisine. It can be likened to cilantro or even arugula in that it has a very distinct flavor that you’ll either love or hate.
The most popular dishes incorporating epazote are unquestionably legumes such as pinto beans and black beans. This herb is also featured in soups and other recipes containing eggs or cheeses. I’ve seen some reports questioning the toxicity of consuming large quantities of epazote, so this is an herb that I only use occasionally and in moderation as a seasoning.
Epazote from the Grocer or the Garden
You won’t find epazote on the shelves of your local grocer so if you want to try it you’ll either have to find some growing in the wild or plant it in your herb garden. I have seen dried epazote for sale occasionally at organic food stores or specialty ethnic grocery stores but it’s much better to use the fresh leaves.
Although it is easy to grow, the biggest challenge may be locating a source for epazote seeds. This branching herb will grow three to four feet in height and one plant will supply more than enough for average kitchen uses. Epazote has medium green serrated leaves with a very pungent aroma when crushed.
Although epazote is a tender annual, once it is established you’ll discover volunteers growing in the garden during following seasons. So if you train your eye to distinguish the young seedling from a useless weed, this can be one of those naturalizing plants that you cultivate one time and then enjoy it forever without the need for replanting.
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