Wed 15 Aug, 2012 12:51 pm
I ran across a mention of the epazote plant on some website related to a recipe I was looking up online - not a recipe that used epazote, it was some side note/link.
Figured I'd find some at the quite well stocked mexican dried peppers and herbs section of my most local grocery store. Yup, I've got me a 1/2 ounce pack for $1.89, from a firm named Rio Grande Herb. They label it as mexican tea, and mention on the back about mexican herbal remedies with no guarantee.
So, I get home, I look it up -
Epazote is used as a leaf vegetable and herb for its pungent flavor. Raw, it has a resinous, medicinal pungency, similar to anise, fennel, or even tarragon, but stronger. Epazote's fragrance is strong but difficult to describe. It has been compared to citrus, savory, or mint.
Although it is traditionally used with black beans for flavor and its carminative properties, it is also sometimes used to flavor other traditional Mexican dishes as well: it can be used to season quesadillas and sopes (especially those containing huitlacoche), soups, mole de olla, tamales with cheese and chile, chilaquiles, eggs and potatoes and enchiladas.
This section needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. Please review the contents of the section and add the appropriate references if you can. Unsourced or poorly-sourced material may be removed. (July 2012)
Epazote is commonly believed to prevent flatulence caused by eating beans and is therefore used to season them. It is also used in the treatment of amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, malaria, chorea, hysteria, catarrh, and asthma.
Although it is used as an anti-cancer herb, and some of its chemical constituents have been shown in the laboratory to affect certain cancer cell lines, it has also been reported to be highly carcinogenic in rats. A Nigerian group, however, concluded in 2007 that it is neither mutagenic nor cytotoxic.
Oil of chenopodium is derived from this plant. It is antihelminthic, that is, it kills intestinal worms, and was once listed for this use in the US Pharmacopeia. It is also cited as an antispasmodic and abortifacient.
Epazote essential oil contains ascaridole (up to 70%), limonene, p-cymene, and smaller amounts of numerous other monoterpenes and monoterpene derivatives (α-pinene, myrcene, terpinene, thymol, camphor and trans-isocarveol). Ascaridole (1,4-peroxido-p-menth-2-ene) is rather an uncommon constituent of spices; another plant owing much of its character to this monoterpene peroxide is boldo. Ascaridole is toxic and has a pungent, not very pleasant flavor; in pure form, it is an explosive sensitive to shock. Allegedly, ascaridole content is lower in epazote from Mexico than in epazote grown in Europe or Asia.
The essential oils of Epazote contain Terpene compounds, some of which have natural pesticide capabilities. The company AgraQuest Inc. of Davis, California, synthetically manufactures a proprietary blend of identical compounds for use in their agricultural pesticide product Requiem. It is not licensed for residential use.
Epazote not only contains terpene compounds, also delivers partial protection to nearby plants simply by masking their scent to some insects, making it a useful companion plant. Its small flowers may also attract some predatory wasps and flies.
Stay tuned for my epazote cooking adventures.
This may be episodic.
Any of you cook with it or use it as a (new word to me) carminative?
I and my wife only know of epazote mainly as an herb used to remove the "gas" from beans when they are cooking. It is not eaten; it is removed after cooking--like bay leaves.
I get that gas managing has taken over the internet -
but I actually meant this thread about recipes that included epazote - for its taste.
You know me, JohnL. I'm very straightforward.
I've had to work to keep the keywords for this thread other than about gas, when I meant it about recipes.
Lots of stuff online re epazote and beans.
But I remember my friend Mary Lou talking about epazote, me not listening as usual (brat) and I don't think she was talking about gas.