The Herb Epazote
A few days ago I wrote about an herb called Papalo. The same day at the farmers market I bought Papalo, I also bought a bunch of herbs called Epazote, pronounced ep.a.zote. My experience with Papalo was very positive. But my experience with the herb Epazote was even more so! I like Papalo but if I had to pick between both herbs it would be Epazote and I’ll tell you why. But first let me talk about the herb, origin and its benefits.
History of Epazote
Just like Papalo the origin of Epazote is Central, South America and Mexico. And like Papalo the name of Epazote is derived from the Nahuatl language. A language spoken by the indigenous people of Mexico and Guatemala. This herb was used for medicinal purposes to assist with removing intestinal parasites. The way Epazote is able to do this is by paralyzing the parasites so they can be pushed out during waste elimination. Dried Epazote was also used in a tea to help with respiratory issues.
It’s a short lived perennial which grows up to 4 to 5 feet tall. The plant is a lime color green and the leaves are jagged on the edges. The flowers of Epazote are small and green. The herb is considered to be a weed in many areas and grows very easily. Its smell is pungent and strong. The taste is similar to a combination of oregano, mint, citrus and pine.
How Epazote is Used
Today in Mexican cultures Epazote is still used during cooking, especially cooking beans. It helps with digestion. The herb also relieves gas and bloating. Epazote is normally put in at the last stage of cooking to get the full flavor compounds. The herb can also be consumed dried. And as mentioned before can be made into a tea and used medicinally.
How I Use Epazote
My first time eating Epazote I was blown away by the flavor. It’s bold and definitely unique in taste . When the herb was initially bought I was told that it helps with digestion. That was all I needed to hear! I already liked the flavor of the herb but now the added benefit of helping digestion was a bonus!
I decided to pair the Epazote with a grass fed burger I was preparing. Whenever I eat beef (which is every once in a while) it’s grass fed and locally farmed. And when preparing it I always add some fennel seeds to help with digestion. Well this time I decided to use some Epazote leaves. Not only did it give my burger a great fresh oregano type citrus flavor, the herb definitely helped in my digestion. I plan to continue to use Epazote for more than with meat. And will be trying it in any dishes I need to add a little boldness or digestion help.
Epazote is definitely an herb I would suggest trying. It’s easy to find dried or fresh in Mexican markets. Or you can possibly find it at your local farmers market like how I did. The reason I prefer Epazote over Papalo is the flavor of Epazote is bold but is not as pungent as Papalo. There’s also citrusy mint notes which brightens the herb and which I find very enjoyable.
There are some considerations when using Epazote. It’s considered toxic if used excessively. Also pregnant women should not consume large quantities of Epazote. As always with any herb used for medicinal purposes a holistic physician or herbalist should be consulted for the right use and dosage.