A must have herb for your Mexican food pantry, find out all about epazote and hot to use it.
Table of Contents
What is Epazote
Epazote is an aromatic herb used in Mexican cooking with a very distinct scent and taste. You may know this herb as Jesuit’s tea, Mexican-tea, wormseed, pigweed or goosefoot. Native to Mexico, Central and South America it has a deep and prized history in the region.; But outside of Mexico in places like Europe, Asia and the US, epazote is treated as a weed and/or a pest in gardens…Too bad.
How to Use It
Mexicans have long been using epazote for it’s medicinal properties and to give food a unique taste. Most people use the herb in beans, where it is added to yield a unique flavour as well as help tone-down flatulence caused by the beans. Additionally epazote may be added to quesadillas, soups, sopes, tamales, enchiladas and mole — I love it in mole!
What Does Epazote Smell and Taste Like
The scent and taste of epazote are ones that you’ll either enjoy or find repugnant –similar to the cilantro debate. I’m on the enjoyable side. When I pick up a leaf of epazote I smell an herb with a wild weed scent. Other people say they smell turpentine, while others disagree and say the scent is a lemony one. I find the taste of raw epazote to be herby, peppery and astringent in the same way that arugula can be. Many others disagree and say they can’t get past the strong turpentine smell and taste. As you can see this is truly an herb that you must smell and taste for yourself to see if you’ll become a fan.
Where to Buy This Mexican Herb
Fresh leaves or bunches of epazote may be purchased at your local Mexican or Latin American food stores. If fresh cannot be found then dried will also work. If epazote is new to you I suggest starting off with one leaf then working up to the flavour you find most pleasant. According to this article, “The older leaves have a stronger flavor and should be used sparingly. Younger leaves have a milder, yet richer flavor.” As for dried epazote I find it to have a milder taste and scent, but it still works great when I’ve run out of fresh.
Recipes to Use Epazote In
Frijoles de Olla: Making A Pot of Traditional Mexican Beans (vegan)
Frijoles Refritos: Mexican Refried Beans (vegan)
Bean Stuffed Poblano Peppers with Ancho-Guajillo Chile Sauce (vegan)
Tequila Epazote Limeade by Vianney of Sweet Life
Gluten Free Squash Blossom and Epazote Quesadillas by Fearless Dinning
Vegetarian Tortilla Soup by Eating Well
Green Chard & Shiitake Tacos with Epazote by Taste with the Eyes
Plantain and Black Bean Bites with Cotija and Crema Drizzle by Nibbles & Feasts
Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…