Growing Epazote

This page talks about growing epazote and its benefits.

This page talks about growing epazote and its benefits.

Epazote is an annual herb native to Central and South America, as well as southern Mexico.  It was once used by the Aztecs in cooking and for medicinal purposes.  While it has a very pungent odor, people frequently debate about how to compare it as everything from mint to citrus has been suggested. 

Today, Mexicans use it to flavor their food, and occasionally as a leaf vegetable.  Epazote contains a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, as well as some fiber and even a little bit of protein.  It has soft, notched leaves and tiny, green flowers and grows to a height of 24 to 36 inches.

You can start planting epazote outside once the threat of the frost has passed and the lowest nighttime temperatures are regularly around or above 50 degrees.  Sun is particularly important for getting the best flavor, so choose a sunny spot in your garden.  Barely cover seeds as they need light to germinate.  The seeds should germinate within 7 to 14 days of planting.

While it is recommended that you start epazote outside, it can be started indoors as well.  Again, barely cover seeds.  Epazote can be transplanted outside once the seedlings reach a height of 3 to 4 inches.  Plant the seedlings in a sunny area with well-drained soil.  Space the plants 10 to 12 inches apart.

Since growing epazote is native to tropical areas, it doesn’t do well in cold weather.  You can bring your plants inside during the cold season to extend the season.

You can begin harvesting epazote once the plant has become established, or within 55 days of planting.  Like any other herb, epazote can be harvested as needed or all at once.  Fresh epazote has the best flavor, but you can dry extra epazote for seasoning all year round.

Epazote adds a distinctive Mexican flavor to salsa, bean dishes, egg dishes, tamales, chili sauces, soups, quesadillas and enchiladas.  Another common use for epazote is for making tea.  Epazote tea is used to aid in digestion, boost immunity, improve blood pressure, heart and bone health, remove parasitic worms and even improve metabolism.  Be careful when using epazote though as it is poisonous if consumed in large quantities.

More on Growing Epazote

Traditional Mexican Bean:

1 cup dried pinto beans

1 small piece of white onion, skin removed

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2-3 leaves fresh epazote

1 tablespoon sea salt or to taste

splash of vegetable oil

water

Thoroughly rinse beans and set aside.  In a large pot, heat oil.  Add onion and cook four minutes or until onion begins to brown.  Add garlic and cook until soft.  Add beans to pot.  Add enough water to the pot so that the water level is three inches above the beans.  Cover.  Simmer on medium heat until the beans have softened.   Check periodically to ensure the pot has enough water.  You can add more from time to time. 

Once the beans are soft, add epazote and salt.  Simmer uncovered 15 minutes.  Beans should be very soft, to the point when their skins slip off.   Remove onion, garlic, and epazote.  If you want fried beans or bean broth, ensure there is enough broth for that, otherwise you can add a little bit of water.  Enjoy!

Click here to check out epazote seed selection.

Go to Herbs from Growing Epazote

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