Definition: This Mexican herb that has a very strong taste and sometimes has a gasoline or perfume type odor. It has been used in Mexican cuisine for thousands of years dating back to the Aztecs who used it for cooking as well as for medicinal purposes. Although epazote is poisonous in large quantities, it has been used in moderation to help relieve abdominal discomfort (gassiness) that can come from eating beans.
It has become a distinct flavor in Mexican cuisine and is now used to season a variety of dishes including beans, soups, salads and quesadillas. The older leaves have a stronger flavor and should be used sparingly. Younger leaves have a milder, yet richer flavor.
Epazote grows well in tropical and sub-tropical climates and will reach a height of over 2 feet. It grows in the wild in Mexico and America and you may even have it growing in your own backyard. It is hearty and sometimes is referred to as a weed.
Epazote has a distinct taste that cannot be replaced by other herbs. If you do not have access to it, you can leave it out. If you leave it out, use more of the other seasonings to balance out the loss of the epazote.
You can find this herb in most Latin markets or Hispanic grocery stores. There are many places online that sell dried epazote which is a satisfactory alternative if fresh is not available.
It also known as wormseed because of it's effects on preventing worms in animals. It is often added to animal feed for this reason.
Also Known As: Mexican Tea, Wormseed, Pigweed, West Indian Goosefoot, Hedge Mustard, Jerusalem Parsley and Pazote.