Wild food is anything edible that has had no management to increase its production. … As with many other wild foods it can also be cooked in the same way as the vegetables we regularly eat. Wild food plants and fungi form a part of the rich diversity of species that is vital to the functioning of ecosystems
Herbs are one of
the fascinating plant species on the planet.
Humans have grown herbs for millennia and eaten herbs from the very beginning of
time. They have added to our lives in several different ways. The humble little
plants have been utilized in the following areas: flavoring food, medicinal remedies,
fragrances, dyes, landscaping, pest control, and industrial uses. In recent years
growing herbs has experienced a giant leap in popularity. One major factor is
that they provide an attractive method of entry into the gardening fraternity
because they are so easy to grow.
There are many
plants that are included in the herb family. This causes a little bit of a challenge
in defining members of the family. The strict botanist school definition of an herb
is that it is a plant that does not form woody tissue. Ergo the name herbaceous
to describe such a plant. Practical herb gardeners are a little more liberal in
their definition of herbs and include plants with flowers, leaves, roots, stems,
or fruits that provide any of the manifestations ascribed to herb plants. These
qualities include ornamental, aromatic, medicinal, culinary, and household uses.
Many plants with woody stems are included in the definition of herbs.
Cultivated types (cultivators) such as thyme, lavender, and rosemary along with vines, trees, and shrubs are in there. Many cultivators are included in the legion
of herb plants on the market today.
Under the right
conditions, herbs are some of the easiest
plants to grow. They can do well in a wide range of growing conditions and soils,
but the key factor is drainage. Herb plants do not like “wet feet,” and they must be planted in well-drained
soil, or they will not live. Richer soils will cause the plants to grow larger stems and roots
rather than the oils which produce the
desired flavors and aromas. When planning an herb garden, consider the native origins
of the herbs to be included in the garden. Herbs originally from the Mediterranean
Sea area will vary in their requirements from East Asia.
Annuals herbs are plants which go through their whole life cycle from seed
to flower, and again to seed in one growing season. Once this happens, the plant dies. If you collect seeds, you can replant in the
same year (e.g., spring and fall), or save and replant the following year. Common
annual herbs are:
Perennials herbs, if well cared for, can last for years in the correct climate
conditions. This makes them an excellent
investment in both time and money. Of course, you may end up with more of them
than you could possibly eat, which is the case with all the large rosemary
bushes in my landscape. We use what we want, and the rest look good and attract
In cooler climates, the plant to may die back in the winter and will return in the following spring;
assuming cold temperature do not exceed their tolerances. Perennials herbs will continue growing through
the winter if you live in some of the more temperate zones. Some common perennial
Sunflowers seem to have the ability to lift the spirits,
creating a feeling of inner happiness. If you’d like to welcome this vivacious
summer flower into your garden this year, then this home gardener’s guide on
how to grow sunflowers can show you how.
In this home gardeners guide on growing sunflowers you will
The meaning of
Sunflower origins and
Best ways to grow
Sunflower pests and
How to harvest and
store your sunflower seeds
Sunflowers have long been a children’s favorite, the sheer
size that some varieties can grow to make them fun and exciting. They are
perfect for a little bit of friendly competition to see who can grow the
tallest flower. They are also great for creating a striking floral arrangement
or to add height to the back of a flower border, where they are best grown in
groups. Other than their beauty, sunflowers also provide nutritious seeds that
you can eat or feed to birds and other animals.
The large yellow flower heads of sunflowers with their
bright yellow petals, which so much resemble the sun, are fittingly called
“rays.” There are lots of varieties to choose from, varying in size
from small to giant, and all are fairly easy to grow even for a novice gardener.
Why Sunflowers Follow the Sun, their Meaning and
Not only are sunflowers very beautiful, but they are also fascinating. There is some confusion about whether or not sunflowers follow the sun and the reason for this may be because they only display their sun following behavior for part of their life and not when they are blooming.
Why Sunflowers Follow the Sun
Young sunflower heads follow the sun across the sky. This
phenomenon is known as “heliotropism.”
Sunflowers contain auxins, which are growth hormones
sensitive to sunlight. Auxins don’t like sunlight and naturally migrate to the
shadiest parts of the plant. As the sun moves, the auxins are continually
driven around the stem causing it to grow a little in each area that they
settle. This causes the head of the sunflower to move, making it appear to
follow the sun.
As the flower heads develop and bloom, they become fixed
facing east, but the heliotropism still makes the flower heads rise up to face
the sun as it rises, which also helps to maximize photosynthesis. Facing east
helps the flower to warm up quickly and attract more pollinating insects.
When the sunflower matures, and seeds start to develop, the
plants no longer display heliotropism and finally droop down due to the weight
of the seed.
Sunflowers are a flower of happiness. They symbolize loyalty, devotion, honor, integrity, sincerity, and longevity. It is thought much of this meaning comes from the sunflower’s namesake, the sun. The sun shines down energy in the form of heat and light, while sunflowers provide us with energy by lifting our spirits, and from their nourishing seeds and oils.
An ancient Greek myth about Apollo and the woman who loved
him named Clytie, tells of Apollo spurning Clytie and turning her into a sunflower.
Despite this, she continued to love him which is why sunflowers are symbols of
adoration and loyalty in many parts of the world.
In China, sunflowers symbolize long life and good fortune, due to their imposing size and vibrant color they also symbolize vanity.
In the Native American culture, sunflowers mean harvest and
bounty, because they provide food in the form of seeds & also color
Today sunflowers are prized for their beauty, seeds, and oils, which can be used for beauty and food products. But these large yellow flowers have been the focus of many a famous artist, probably the most famous being Vincent Van Gogh, but Paul Gauguin and Gustav Klimt have also featured this beautiful plant in their paintings.
The name “Sunflower” or correct Latin name “Helianthus”
comes from the Greek words “Helios” which means sun and “Anthos” which means
Sunflowers have been purposefully grown from around 3,000BC, which has been discovered from sunflower seeds being found at archeological sites. In the United States, sunflowers were cultivated by Native Americans in the Mississippi river valley for their seeds, oil, and fiber and also as a medicine.
When Europeans started to settle in the United States, they
prized the sunflowers they found there and sent seeds back to Europe.
Sunflowers became popular as an ornamental plant in many English cottage
gardens as can be seen in the paintings from Van Gogh’s and his counterparts.
Sunflowers also gained great popularity in Russia, because their oil could be eaten without breaking their strict religious dietary laws. Russian growers in the 20th Century started to breed selectively to maximize the plants’ oil content and make it more disease resistant.
By the 1960s specially selected sunflower cultivars were
being grown commercially in the United States on an industrial scale, mostly to
produce vegetable oil.
Sunflowers remain a popular commercial crop in many parts of
the world, as the oil has many uses, from cooking and cosmetics to biofuel.
How to Grow Sunflowers
Sunflowers are a hardy plant and will grow even in relatively poor soils. They can tolerate a soil pH of between 6.0 and 7.5 quite happily and are drought resistant due to their ancestry growing on the vast American prairies. They do not however like waterlogged soil, so if you are in a heavy clay area you may have to do some soil modification to prevent this problem.
There are a vast number of sunflower varieties for you to
choose from. Sunflowers don’t just come in yellow either, there are also other
color options available to try too. Here are a few varieties to illustrate
Skyscraper – A very large sunflower with petals of around 14 inches in length. It can grow to 12 feet in height and has a large seed head.
American Giant – really lives up to its name featuring a large seed head and growing to heights of around 15 feet it can also span up to a foot in width!
Russian Mammoth – Is an easy to grow specimen with large seed head, which is popular at county fairs because of its height of 12 feet.
Dwarf sunflowers are generally more popular for garden ornamental displays of for flower arrangements. They grow to a maximum height of three feet and look great in bunches.
Little Becka – This sunflower could also be classed in our next category of colored sunflowers, but it is also a dwarf variety growing to only one or two feet in height. It has deep orange petals with yellow tips and will add a vibrant splash of color to any garden or arrangement.
Sundance Kid – Was one of the first sunflower varieties to be domesticated. It is unusual as it has multi-layered petals with a small seed head. It stands at about one to two feet in height.
Sunny Smile – Is a perfect miniature of one of the larger sunflower varieties, with a large seed head for its size it can grow from 12 to 15 inches in height. It has particularly stout stalks and can take abuse from pets and children in the garden.
Hybridizing sunflowers has created some amazing colored
varieties, perfect for adding a splash of color to your flower arrangements or
Earthwalker – features a golden halo around its large seed head, which turns to deep reds.
Terracotta– has colors perfect for fall, ranging from burnt orange, golds and deep yellow.
Ms. Mars – has beautiful red and purple hues that graduate to subtle yellow at the tips.
The best way to grow sunflowers is by planting the seeds
directly into the soil where they are to be grown. The seeds can be sown as
soon as any danger of frost has passed in the spring, or you can start them
indoors in individual pots. The small peat pots are useful for this purpose as
they biodegrade. Ideally, the outdoor soil temperature should be between 55-
and 60-degrees Fahrenheit before planting.
To plant the seeds outdoors:
Make a shallow trench
in the soil of about 1 ½ to 2 inches in depth. If you are going to be growing
several rows, then the rows should be around 2 to 3 feet apart to allow the
plants to gain maximum light as they grow.
Place a seed
approximately every 6 inches if you are growing the larger headed seed
varieties. For smaller varieties, used for flower arranging or decorative
planting, space them closer together a minimum of 2 inches apart.
Place the soil back
over the seeds and water gently so you don’t wash them away. The soil should be
kept lightly damp, not wet, you can test this by digging your finger down
alongside the seed trench to make sure the soil is damp and not dry or wet.
The seedling sprouts
should appear between 7 and 10 days after sowing.
Once the seedlings have
acquired their second set of leaves, they should be thinned out to 2 feet for
larger headed plants and 1 foot for smaller ones.
Depending on growing
conditions and seed variety, the plants will mature in 80 to 120 days.
If you wish to prolong
your sunflower season, sow a new row of seeds every two to three weeks until
the first frosts in the autumn. By doing this you can enjoy beautiful flowers
throughout the summer months.
If you want to start your seeds off indoors, fill your peat pots or seed trays with multi-purpose compost and sow an individual seed into each one. Keep moist, not wet. When your seeds have germinated allow the seedlings to grow their second set of leaves then transfer them into larger pots. Keep them in a warm sunny place and when they reach 12 inches you can plant them in the garden or put them into large ornamental pots to place on a patio or deck. Make sure that the pot you select will be big enough to allow the root ball to grow sufficiently, or you will stunt the growth of your sunflowers.
Unless your soil is of particularly poor quality, your sunflowers shouldn’t require fertilizing. If you do want to give them a boost, it is best to add a slow release granular fertilizer to the soil. Over-fertilizing can cause a delay in blooming.
The root ball will spread quite widely, which helps make the
plant stable and fairly drought tolerant. Because sunflowers hate having their
roots in waterlogged soil, it is best to water deeply every two to three days,
giving the soil time to drain in between.
If you have particularly heavy clay soil, you may need to add soil amendments in the form of organic matter. Clay soil is generally nutrient-rich, so fertilizer shouldn’t be necessary. Another option is to create raised beds where you can use compost and grass trimmings to create a light, nutrient-rich soil.
Adding a layer of mulch to about 2 to 3 inches in depth
around your sunflowers will help discourage weeds and helps retain moisture
lost through evaporation. This can be useful in warmer areas or in sandy soils
where the soil becomes dry quickly.
Sunflower do not generally require staking, but if you live
in an area that is prone to wind, then it can be advisable as a precaution,
particularly if you are growing very tall varieties with large seed heads.
If you are growing sunflowers for their height, there is no
need to pinch them out. If however, you are growing them to use in floral
arrangements, pinching out will stunt the growth of the plant and cause it to
produce a lot more blooms, which can be beneficial. Pinching out is the process
of removing the growing tip of the plant when it reaches about 8 to 10 inches
in height, you can do it by pinching the tip with your thumb and forefinger.
As your sunflowers start producing seeds, the local wildlife
will take full advantage. That is unless you take precautions to prevent this.
If you enjoy watching the birds and squirrels feast on the bounty provided by
your sunflowers that’s fine, but if you want to use the seeds for yourself you will
need to cut the heads off when they droop and allow them to dry before removing
Deer can be a big problem as they are rather partial to the
tasty young leaves on a sunflower. You can use chicken wire supported by sturdy
6-foot bamboo stakes to deter them.
As the sunflowers heads droop and no longer turn upward to
face the sun and the underside of the flower head turns from green to brown,
they will be ready to harvest.
Remove the seed head leaving a foot of stem still attached.
Hang them somewhere warm and dry and ensure they have plenty of ventilation.
Hanging them helps prevent rodents from reaching them. Allow them to dry out
for several weeks and when they are completely dry you will be able to easily
remove the seeds by rubbing two sunflower heads together, you can also use your
fingers or a kitchen fork. Spread the seeds out on a tray and allow them to dry
for a few more days before storing them in airtight containers. Glass mason
jars are perfect for this purpose. Keep them in a cool dark place to retain the
oils and flavor of the seeds.
Be aware that all parts of the sunflower give off growth
inhibiting substances that can affect other plants. For this reason, keep them
away from pole beans or potatoes.
Pests and Disease
Sunflowers are quite hardy, but they can sometimes become
infected by fungal disease including rust and mildew.
Mildew – The oldest leaves are generally the first to become infected. The mildew appears on the underside of the leaves causing them to turn mottled and pale before withering and eventually dying. Warm humid days combined with cool damp nights are the favorite conditions for mildew. It spreads its spores in soil, wind, and rain and can also contaminate garden tools.
Rust – This
disease causes yellow or white spots that gradually turn dark brown or black.
The spots appear on the tops of the leaves. It can spread to the entire plant
and can be contracted from weeds, including shepherd’s purse, wild mustard,
lamb’s quarters and pigweed.
To get rid of these diseases keep a careful eye out as
catching them early is preferable. Treat by spraying with a garden fungicide
and follow the directions given on the label. It is best to burn badly affected
plants to stop the disease from spreading to healthy ones. Ensure you disinfect
your garden tools, this can be done by dipping them in a mixture of 4 parts
water to 1-part household bleach. Ensure you don’t cross contaminate plants
with your hands or garden gloves, keep them clean.
Sunflower Moth – This small grey moth will lay its eggs on the developing sunflower blossoms. The caterpillars are a yellow-green color with 5 brown stripes across their backs. They will feed within the flower head and this destroys the seeds. Remove any caterpillars you find and squash them before disposing of them. If the plant has become infected, you can dust it with a product that contains Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) this is a bacterium that kills the caterpillars. Bt is destroyed by sunlight and rain so it can be necessary to treat the plants several times. Follow the directions given on the label.
Growing sunflowers can be great fun and these beautiful
happy blooms give pleasure not only when they are flowering but also afterward
with their seeds and oil.
Sunflowers can be grown to give height in a garden border, or to create a colorful focal point. They are good for using in floral displays and with the colored varieties, you can now find even more sunflowers to fit your color scheme.
The main reason for sunflower growing around the world is
for their seeds, oils and plant fibers which have great commercial value.
Whatever your reason is for growing sunflowers I hope that
you enjoy it and have great success in your endeavors.
I want to thank you
for buying this book, ‘Growing Epazote –
A Home Gardener’s Guide’ and I hope you will find it informative and
Gardening is a
pleasurable and enjoyable hobby. It is also one of those hobbies that require a
lot of patience. However, the results are exquisite. It is one of the rare
hobbies in which you need to deal with real living things and take care of
them. Gardeners love their plants and consider them to be their friends.
gardeners, old and new, are looking out for certain plants and shrubs that were
once considered to be weeds. While these plants held special places in various
cultures, due to commercialization, their invasive nature and lack of
information regarding them had deemed them as weeds. However, most of these
plants and shrubs are not only beautiful, but they have various beneficial
properties as well. Such a plant, which is often considered to be a weed, is
Epazote is an
ancient plant that holds a significant place in Latin American culture.
Nowadays, more and more people want to grow epazote thanks to its pungent but
exciting flavor and its anti-flatulence properties. If you are one of these
people, this book will help you grow epazote in no time.
Epazote is quite
easy to grow which is why even new and amateur gardeners won’t have any
problems growing it. Read on to find out how to introduce this delicious herb
into your garden right away!
I hope you will use
the information provided in this book to make your home and garden greener and
your food tastier.
Before moving on to
growth and care tips regarding epazote, it is first necessary to understand the
plant itself. This chapter will briefly explain the various properties,
qualities and certain warnings regarding growing, using and consuming epazote.
Epazote is a commonly grown herb crop in the Yuma area. However, the percentage of growers who grow this crop is quite small. Not many people are aware of Epazote ‘s popularity and importance. Epazote is a leafy vegetable that is often used as an herb for its pungent flavor. It is either used raw or is often cooked along with various other ingredients. It is extremely pungent and resinous. It tastes a bit like fennel, anise or tarragon. However, the taste is much stronger. The fragrance is strong too and it is difficult to describe, as it does not match any other scent.
Epazote sounds like
rather an exotic name. However, it is still better than various other names
that this herb has. Some people call it goosefoot, pigweed, skunkweed or wormseed.
These names are not random, as epazote comes from the Aztec words ‘epatl’ and
‘tzol.’ These two words taken together roughly translate to smelly animal.
Other, far better names include Mexican. People rarely refer to it as
Chenopodium ambrosioides either. As mentioned earlier, epazote holds a dear and
special place in the Central American and Latin American culture. It is
commonly used in Guatemalan and Central American cuisines.
As mentioned in the
section above, epazote is extremely strong and pungent which is why people
often consider it to be an acquired taste. Some people complain of it being too
bitter with slight hints of lemon. Certain people tend to replace epazote with
Mexican oregano, which is often found to be more palatable for fussy eaters.
However, no herb or ingredient can replace epazote and its pungent but
Different parts of
the epazote have different flavors. However, only the leaves of the plant are fit
for human consumption. Other parts can prove to be toxic and must be avoided.
Young leaves of the plant are richer yet milder in flavor as compared to the
older leaves. The flavor becomes more and more intense with age.
Epazote is suitable
for tropical as well as sub-tropical climatic conditions. If grown properly it
can grow over 3 feet. It is often discarded as a weed in places like Mexico and
the USA. It is invasive and a rapid grower and it is possible that you may
already have some in your garden, or a local park, though if you plan to
consume epazote, it is recommended to plant a new one only for consumption. Do
not use leaves from your park or any other public place.
While the main
concern of this book is to help you grow epazote, it is always better to try
some out before choosing to grow it. Epazote is commonly available in many
Hispanic and Latin Markets. It is available in dry as well as fresh forms. If
fresh epazote is not available, dry epazote can be used and is every bit as
tasty. Dry epazote is available on various e-commerce sites.
Epazote is a hardy
plant and thus storing it is easy. However, as it is an herb, it is perishable,
and thus care must be taken to keep Epazote fresh. Whether you grow epazote or
whether you buy fresh Epazote from the market, always take care of the leaves
to make them last longer. You should store the fresh stems in a tumbler of
fresh water. If you do not want to keep it out in the open, you can keep it
wrapped in some moist paper towels and then keep them in the refrigerator. One
stem of fresh epazote is about one teaspoon of dried epazote.
Epazote has various
uses, and thus many people want to grow it nowadays.
Traditionally, epazote has been used to flavor beans and for the carminative properties of epazote. It is often used to flavor other Mexican dishes, such as squash flower quesadillas, as well. For instance, epazote can be used to season soups, quesadillas, eggs, and potatoes, mole de olla and enchiladas.
You will be
surprised to know that epazote has been used for thousands of years. The
ancient Aztecs used it to flavor their cooking and for its various medicinal
Epazote can be used to treat hookworms, roundworms, amebic dysentery, small tapeworms, excess mucus, and asthma as well.
Externally, it can
be used to treat insect bites and athlete’s foot. It also has insecticidal
properties and can be used against mosquitoes and insect larvae.
Epazote is a strong
laxative and has various laxative properties. With the help of these
properties, it can stop the functioning of parasites and can halt their
advancement in the intestines. It has been used as an essential oil since the
nineteenth century in diluted and concentrated forms. In the 20th century,
pharmaceutical companies started isolating and using it too.
People also use
fresh epazote leaves to create wall hangings, floral decorations, etc. You can
create wreaths, dried floral decorations, etc. Always be careful while using
and handling dried leaves and seeds of epazote as they may irritate the skin.
The seeds are known to cause various reactions including dermatitis etc. to
people who are sensitive to spicy foods and spices.
delicious, is a risky condiment just like cinnamon. The risk can be minimized
if you know how to use it. Some people believe that epazote’s taste is
addictive. However, it is recommended to avoid epazote in large quantities.
Only add a couple of leaves to your food to bring out its flavors. If you want
to add dried leaves, then add according to the recipe. If you are not sure how
to use epazote, you may need to talk to your Latin American friends.
Now you must be
wondering where to find epazote, or you must be excited about growing it in
your garden. Find out more about how to grow epazote in your garden, home or
even in water in the following chapters.
Epazote is delicious as well as a beautiful plant that can make your garden look fresh and green and your foods are tastier. If you love the taste of epazote, it is best to grow it in your garden to ensure a steady supply.
epazote is simple. Epazote has large serrated leaves, and it also gives out
flowers with tiny green balls. It is recommended to consume only the leaves of
the plant. The plant is an annual, and its leaves can be used as an insecticide
as well. If you crush the leaves and spread it on paths, it can make ants go
away. Dry epazote can be used to get rid of ants as well. While only leaves are
fit for human consumption, some people also like to add thin stems of leaves to
their food. If you do decide to use the stems, pulverize them and let them cook
for a long time.
Epazote grows well
in all seasons if you live in a tropical or sub-tropical region. However, if
you live in any other region then it is best to plant epazote in spring after
the ‘dangerous’ frosts are long gone. Epazote needs slightly high temperature
throughout the day. The temperature should reach at least 50 degrees. Any less
and the growth will not be satisfactory. Always grow epazote in well-drained
soil and full sunlight.
Epazote seeds are
small and thus should not be sown too deep. It is recommended to sow them at
the surface of the soil. If you live in a windy zone, sow them at 1/16-inch
depth. Always keep the soil warm and moist as it helps germination. As said in
the last section, the temperature should be around 50 degrees. Epazote grows
quickly and can be invasive and it is therefore recommended to allow the area
some growing space. If you are not comfortable with the plant taking over your
garden, only plant it in containers. This way you will be able to keep it under
For subtropical and
tropical regions, you can sow epazote seeds throughout the year. For people who
live in moderate zones, seeds can be sown in mid-spring when the temperatures
are moderately high. Seeds germinate and grow in about 2-4 weeks. Some plants
may even grow fully and be ready for harvest in a month or two. If you sow
seeds over a stretched period, you will be able to ensure a long harvest. Sow
the seeds throughout the spring.
As epazote is
native to tropical regions, it grows the best in zones 2-7. It may even grow up
to 2 to 4 feet. If you live in colder regions, it is recommended to grow it in
containers so that you can bring it in if the temperature drops out of the
Do not plant seeds
in loamy soil. Always sow them where the roots will not be submerged in water
for long. Sun is crucial for good flavor.
Epazote grows the
best outside, as it requires high temperature and direct sunlight. However, it
can also be grown indoors in soil as well as water.
If you want to sow
epazote indoors, do it in a place that receives ample sunlight. Windowsills and
balconies are the best places for growing epazote. Seeds can be either started
in growing medium, tissues or soil as well. Once the seedlings are ready, you
can transfer them to containers containing growing media or soil. You can also
transfer them to containers containing water. Epazote can grow well in water
that is replenished with nutrients sparingly.
It is recommended
to grow epazote for at least 4-6 weeks before moving them outside (if you want
to). If you do not want to grow them outside at all, you may continue to grow
them on windowsills.
While epazote can
grow in water, their growth will not be as satisfactory as epazote grown
outside in the soil.
Epazote leaves are
bright, dark green and come out of the reddish stem of the mature plant. They
have serrated edges, i.e., edges that look like teeth. They can also produce
tiny flowers that grow right with the stems. These flowers then grow into
Epazotes are rapid
growers and quickly gain their standard height of about 4ft. If you
continuously harvest the tip of the plant after every couple of weeks, the
plant will continue to grow and get more and bushy as well. This will also
allow you to harvest the herb throughout the growing season.
Epazotes do the
best in warm weather where the temperature does not drop below 50 very often.
Do not water the plants too much and a dense watering thrice a week is
sufficient. If it does not rain, you may increase the watering. Do not use a
forceful stream or pressurized water to water the plant, as its stem is often
quite delicate. Do not over water or it will lead to root-rot.
has almost no pests as the texture of the plant and the scent of the leaves act
as a deterrent to parasites and pests all over. Epazote can also help you to
get rid of pests from other plants, as pests will leave any area where epazote
spreading leaves of epazote plant can help you get rid of annoying pests like
ants etc. from your house.
say that it’s not worth drying Epazote because it loses its flavor when dried, but I disagree. While the flavor
may not be as intense as a fresh bunch from the garden, there is still plenty
of culinary use for dried Epazote in everyday cooking.
are several ways of drying Epazote which include
To oven dry
your Epazote, preheat oven to 250-300 degrees F.
Lightly coat a cookie sheet with baking spray to help with sticking. Strip the leaves
off the stems of the Epazote and spread the leaves in one layer on the cookie
sheet. Let, the leaves dry out in the oven for 20-30 minutes, check once. You
just want the leaves to lose the fresh green look. Take them out of the oven and
cool on the cookie sheet. Use a spatula to scrape off the cookie sheet, and
slightly crumble the leaves. Put in an airtight jar and store with spices, use when
needed! These will last as long as any other dried herb.
the Epazote under cool, running water and dry it thoroughly, but gently, with a
the Epazote together and tie the stem ends together with a string for them to be used immediately.
Epazote bunch in a dry area until all the water evaporates from the leaves of
the bunch upside down in a paper bag. Tie the paper bag closed and poke several
holes in the bag with the tip of a knife to allow for ventilation.
bag in a warm, dry area that is not in direct sunlight.
Open the bag and check the herbs every few days to see if the
Epazote is sufficiently dry. The herb should feel crisp and crumble easily in
your hand, with no areas of moisture. It should take about one to two weeks to properly
dry your Epazote.
the Epazote in a bag while it dries allows the leaves to drop into the bag rather
than onto the floor or counter.
dried Epazote in a sealed, airtight container.
tastes best when added to cooked dishes as opposed to salsas or salads.
Epazote for drying that has fresh, healthy leaves; avoid Epazote with wilted
fresh Epazote until you are able to dry it by placing the stems in 1 inch of water
and covering the plant with a plastic bag. Fresh Epazote should keep in the refrigerator
for up to one week.
Epazote herbs in a bowl of water. After they have
soaked for a few minutes, put the leaves
in a salad spinner or large dish towel and give it a twirl. This helps
to make the leaves as dry as possible.
remove the stems of the herbs. Some people prefer to dry their herbs without
removing the stems; it is a matter of personal preference. Once the leaves are completely dry,
the stems will be minimal, so you decide what’s best. If you plan to grind the dried
leaves into powder, the stems will not make a difference.
Once you’ve cleaned and dried the Epazote leaves, lay them on
dehydrator trays in a single layer. It is okay to have the leaves touch. They
will not stick together when they are dried.
You should process these in your favorite dehydrator at 110°
for approximately 1 to 3 hours. They dry fairly quickly
so keep an eye out. You’ll know they are done when
the leaves are crisp and crumble between your fingers.
How to store dehydrated Epazote
To store dehydrated Epazote, place the dried Epazote in an
airtight container and keep in a cool, dark, dry place for the best flavor and color.
Use the leaves within a year. Keep the leaves whole; they have
a longer shelf life than ground herbs. For the best flavor crush or grind the leaves
just before using.
Dried Epazote lasts as long as two years, and you don’t have to
worry about freezer burn or other problems that occur when freezing food.
If you have the freezer space or happen to
have a second freezer as we did for many years, freezing is a good way to
preserve Epazote, which, also, has the benefit of retaining more of the original
flavor of Epazote then drying does.
There are three basic methods for freezing Epazote:
The Ice Cube Method
The Vacuum Sealer Method,
The Cookie Sheet
Ice Cube Method
One way of freezing Epazote is to add the
leaves or parts of leaves to ice cube trays in water or broth before freezing.
This method is useful for adding small quantities to recipes, especially soup,
stews, and casseroles.
Salad Spinner or two
clean spongy kitchen towels
shears or sharp knife and cutting board
Entire leaf or hacked Epazote
Fresh faucet water
Pick through the fresh Epazote
and dispose of damaged leaves. Spin drying or pat dry between two kitchen
towels to remove as much moisture as possible.
Strip off the leaves
from the stem.
Dice the Epazote and
add to ice cube trays.
Fill every compartment with
Top off with filtered water
or broth and place in the freezer.
the ice cubes have frozen, remove the Epazote cubes.
and air-proof freezer bag or container in your freezer.
This method preserves more color and flavor
by keeping the leaves sealed.
Vacuum sealer with
proper bag material
Salad Spinner or clean
spongy kitchen towels
Kitchen shears or sharp
Wash and gently spin dry
or gently pat dry with kitchen towels to remove excess moisture.
Cut or remove the stems
Make a bag large enough
to hold the Epazote leaves and allow some headspace between the herb and the seal.
Label bag with herb
name and date it.
Place herbs into the
seal the bag.
flat in the freezer. After the bags have frozen solid, they can be put away
upright or stacked to save space.
The Cookie Sheet Method
This method is in common use as most homes
still do not have vacuum sealers in their kitchens. The cookie sheet method, also,
preserves more color and flavor than drying Epazote.
Air tight freezer bag
or plastic freezer containers
A cookie sheet or sheet
pan which will fit on your freezer shelves
Salad Spinner or clean
spongy kitchen towels
Kitchen shears or sharp
Wash and gently spin
dry or gently pat dry with kitchen towels to remove excess moisture.
Cut or remove the stems
Label bag with herb
name and date it.
Line the cookie sheet with
Spread the Epazote leaves
on top of the parchment paper
Spread the leaves on a
parchment paper lined cookie sheet (not touching one another) in successive
layers of parament paper and Epazote. For best results, at most three to five
layers are recommended.
You can place a final
layer of parchment paper and top with a second cookie sheet to gently press the
Let the leaves freeze a
few hours or overnight.
Once the leaves are
thoroughly frozen, quickly remove the leaves from the cookie sheet, and
parchment paper, and pack the Epazote leaves loosely inside small freezer bags
or freezer containers for long-term storage.
How long can Epazote stored in
If properly stored, it will
maintain the best quality for about 4 to 6 months but will remain safe beyond
Thank you for
buying this book, and I hope you found it useful and interesting.
Gardening is a fun
way to relax and enjoy the beautiful and often tasty results of your hard work.
Epazote is a brilliant starter plant for everyone who is interested in growing
herbs and is an amateur gardener. It is easy to grow and care for the plant and
can be grown anywhere.
Epazote is quite
potent, and only a small amount is needed to make your dish pop! This means you
can grow a couple of plants, and they will last you throughout the season. If
you are new to the taste of epazote, use it in various quantities to find one
that suits and soothes your taste buds. Remember, it is always better to add less
spice than more as it is possible to make up for less but removing more is
I have very distinct memories of Juniper shrubs from my youth in Eastern Oregon where we just called hem Junipers. It was not until I arrived in Texas, where everyone calls Them Cedars that I even realize they were cedars. Junipers shrubs are ubiquitous across the arid regions of the United States.
Description Of A Juniper
The Juniper (Juniperus communis ), also known as cedar, this treelike shrub which , depending on variety, can grow to a height of 20 feet or more and a width of 20 feet,
Junipers have tiny, scaly evergreen leaves that are densely crowded on the branches. A Junipers berrylike cones are usually blue and whitish wax coated.
Where Do Juniper Shrubs grow?
Junipers grow in open, semi-arid, places throughout the throughout North America, Europe, and Southwest Asia.
What Are The Edible Parts Of A Juniper?
The berries of juniper are edible raw.
Juniper twigs can be consumed as a tea.
Dried and crushed berries are good for seasoning meat.
The seeds can be roasted as a substitute for coffee.
Mexican Oregano is a culinary herb and native to North America, even though in central Texas you are more likely to see it in landscaping that in the vegetable or herb garden. Mexican Oregano has a very different flavor than Mediterranean oregano. Mexican Oregano stronger and more bitter, this more robust flavor makes a good companion for the spicier and stronger flavored seasons used in Mexican cooking. peppers, cumin).
Mexico and the southwest United States
USDA hardiness zones: 9-10
2 – 4 feet
3 – 6 feet
Tubular lavender flowers, about, 1 inch long
Blooms Spring until frost
Full to Partial Sun
Easy to grow from root cuttings
Like Rosemary, the branches can be rooted and, pruned and transplanted. Basically, scrap the bottom of a branch, cover with soil, weight/pin it to the ground, and keep moist (don’t over water) it roots. Then, prune the branch from the parent plane, gently dig it up (if you didn’t root it in a transplant pot), plant in new location water regularly, until the transplant has set in for the first season.
Frequently used as a replacement for oregano, although not botanically related. It is sweeter and less bitter than oregano. Used to flavor marinades, meats, tomato dishes, bean dishes, eggs, soups, and stews.
Used as a tea for respiratory infections, gastrointestinal tract disorders, nervous system complaints, and a palliative for sore throats. The plant was said to contain oils that had bacterial fighting properties.
In central Texas, popular in landscaping as a middle tier perennial. I usual plant them in groups of three to five plans, about 18 inches to two feet apart.
Forage foods, are foods which grow wild, or have escaped into the wild and are readily found along roadsides, in the fields, forests, and Meadows. They are an excellent way to supplement the foods you put on the table and/or preserve for winter, or later consumption. Forage foods can also be used to supplement foods raised in your home garden and backyard fruit and nut trees. These food include the food long use in subsistence living and others. Forage may also include animals (e.g meat) and animal produced foods (e.g. Honey).
I have many fond memories of my youth where we forged in the forests fields and roadsides where we lived. These could range from wild berries to apple trees found in an old homestead on our property or neighbor’s property with permission.
Here is a quick list of forage foods that I can think of off the top of my head. Some of these foods, especially mushrooms, will require some special handling and special knowledge to be safely eaten.