How to Use Epazote
Answered by: Richters Staff

E Griffiths writes
What can I do with epazote? I have an excellent crop from your seeds and no idea what to do with it. Thanks.

Epazote’s star is rising in the culinary world. Although its leaves are strong smelling like fresh coriander leaves (cilantro), the leaves add an, oh so satisfying, rich bitter note when used in soups and stews. Like coriander, it is the young fresh leaves that you use; harvest before the plants flower and set seeds. Chop fresh leaves sparingly at first until you get accustomed to the strong flavour. This plant is a favorite of mine for another reason: it illustrates my theory that many herbs are associated with with certain foods for very practical reasons. Epazote is also known as "American wormseed" and that less than inviting moniker comes from its long use to expel worms. As anyone who has travelled to Mexico knows, it is easy to get worms from eating meat. How practical then, that some munificient leader in the distant past decreed that epazote ought to be served in soups and stews made with meat? Every time meat is taken in this way, a dose of vermicide automatically comes with it. And so over the centuries the pungent flavour of epazote came to be inextricably tied with "sopa". Epazote is an annual which reseeds itself. You can get repeat crops in succeeding years, provided you allow a few plants to go to seed. Epazote is a close relative to lamb’s quarters and other common garden weeds, so it is easy to lose track of it in your garden. As you have discovered, epazote is a breeze to grow from seeds.

"Steve Carkner adds..."
In your reply to E. Griffiths to "what to do with Epazote" you mentioned worming aspects. However that is not truly the largest use for the herb. The herb is also very popular (some would say more popular) in bean dishes as it reduces flatulance. As a vegetarian, that is my major interest and use for the herb; it works very well especially when I have company over that are not used to a bean-filled diet.

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