Epazote is a popular aromatic herb used in Mexican cuisine that adds an unmistakable flavor to many Mexican dishes. Learn more about where to find it and how to use it!
What is Epazote
Epazote (pronounced eh-pah-ZOH-teh) is a large, leafy aromatic herb that’s used in Mexican cooking, particularly in central and southern Mexico.
It’s often used to add flavor to dishes like black beans, pinto beans, and in soups and stews.
The word originates from the Nahuatl language and is a combination of the Aztec words for “skunk” and “sweat.”
It’s sometimes referred to as Mexican Tea and Wormseed (in English), or paico, or ipazote.
What does epazote taste like?
Some people describe the taste of this herb as medicinal and pungent with strong notes of anise, mint, camphor and/or eucalyptus.
It has a strong aroma of petroleum
Where to buy Epazote
Epazote is commonly found in most Mexican grocery stores in the United States in the produce section or at local farmers markets.
If you can’t find any fresh near you, you can find dried epazote online.
How to cook with Epazote
Epazote is a go-to ingredient for adding depth of flavor to many Mexican dishes that you can’t get from any other herb.
It adds wonderful flavor to tamales, black beans, pinto beans, quesadillas, and stews like chicken pozole verde.
Despite its robust, assertive taste, it is a delicate fresh herb that is often best added at the end of the cooking process.
The flavor tends to mellow a bit when the leaves are added to a dish and cooked.
To store fresh epazote, you can wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel and store them in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
You can also place the epazote in a glass of water (just like you would do with flowers) and place it in the fridge. This is also my favorite way of storing other fresh herbs like cilantro!
Epazote as a Digestive Aid
Medicinally, epazote leaves are sometimes used to make tea, which is a wonderful digestive aid.
It can also help with gas and bloating, which may be why it’s traditionally added to a pot of black beans!
Historically, its powerful benefits were used to eliminate intestinal parasites, but it’s less commonly used that way now.
This plant is native to Mexico and Central America, and grows in the warm temperate to subtropical climates of Europe and the United States.
Because it grows so easily and tends to be invasive, it’s a good candidate for container gardens.
After it’s cut, fresh stems can be kept in water, or placed in a damp paper towel stored in a sealed plastic or paper bag in the refrigerator.
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