Epazote (Dysphania ambrosioides)[epazote1] is called the same in both English and Spanish, in Nahuatl it is called epazotl.[epazote2] Epazote is an herb native to the Americas but now can be found throughout the world. The leaves, flowers and thinner stems are used in traditional Mexican cooking and traditional medicine. Click here for a larger image of epazote.
Epazote, with its strong pungent flavor and smell, is used in a wide variety of Mexican foods; notably in black beans, quesadillas (roasted or fried tortillas stuffed with cheese and a sprig of epazote) and in stews. Epazote is usually added to the dish near the end of cooking, the flavor of epazote does not stand up well to heat.
Epazote tea is also used in traditional medicine for treatment of parasites and stomach and intestinal ailments. To make epazote tea, boil 6-10 leaves for 6 to 8 minutes and then strain. Children and those with liver, kidney or heart problems should avoid this tea.The boiled moist leaves of epazote can be dabbed over bug bites and light burns to help relieve pain. Many Mexicans believe that epazote reduces gas and bloating, especially after eating beans.
Fava bean (Canavalia ensiformis) is called haba in Spanish. In Mexico fava soup, sopa de habas, is a popular dish as well as roasted favas flavored with salt and chili powder is a popular snack. For a larger image of fava beans click here. For a larger image of roasted fava beans click here.
Flor de maguey is maguey flower in English. Flor de maguey is usually served in quesadillas (roasted or fried tortillas stuffed with cheese) and in soups. For a larger image of Flor de maguey click here.
Granada china or Granada originates from South America. Granada china has a peel like an orange and has a citric flavor. The gelatin pulp and seeds are to be be eaten. This is a favorite fruit of mine. For a larger image of granada china click here.
Green Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) are called ejotes or los ejotes in Mexican Spanish and exotl in Nahuatl.[greenbeans1] In Spanish speaking countries, depending on where you are, green beans have a variety of names including judías verdes and habichuelas but in Mexico they are ejotes.
Green beans originate from the Americas and were introduced to Europe after the Spanish conquest. Historically, most green beans had a fibrous string going through them; most green beans today are stringless. Stringless green beans are available year round in Mexican markets. But in November, the the older, original and colorful types of (string) green beans materialize in Mexican markets.
In the photos below, The green colored beans are called ejotes verdes followed by ejotes morados, the third ones are called ejotes colorados and the last ones which are cream colored are called ejotes cuarenteños because you can plant and harvest them in forty days, (cuarenta is forty in English).
The lady dressed in pink (above or to the right depending on your device) is holding a type of green bean called el ejote tripa de pollo which literally translated is Chicken Gut Green Beans.[greenbeans2]
When growing up, I had lots of canned green beans at dinners. They would be coated in butter and salt and needless to say I did't care for them; still don't. In Mexico, I have only eaten green beans in soups and rice and once in a red mole sauce. The green beans in red mole sauce were the best; I like mole and could hardly see or taste the green beans.
Guanábana or guanábano, both are correct in Spanish, (Annona muricata) is guanabana or soursop in English. Guanábana originates from Central and South America and now grows in tropical areas worldwide. The ripe fruit has a texture of a banana and has a slightly acidic taste to it. Guanábana is usually served as a fruit drink, smoothie or in ice cream. For a larger image of guanábano click here.
I have a guanábana tree growing in my backyard. Usually a possum will eat the fruit of my guanábana tree before I get it.
Guava (Psidium guajava) or Guayaba in Spanish. The photos below show two varieties, the yellow variety is by far the most common. I cut up and throw six of these six of these sweet fruit into a blender with a bit of honey for a great fruit drink. For a larger image of the yellow guayaba click here. For a larger image of the pink guayaba click here.
Hierba buena, also known as yerba buena. The specific plant species regarded as hierba buena varies from region to region. The mint flavored plant is used in cooking and is said to have medicinal properties. For a larger image of hierba buena click here.
Hierba de conejo also known as fumaria and sangre de cristo grows in Oaxaca, especially during rainy season. It is used as a spice with beans. Hierba de conejo also has some medical uses including a diuretic and a laxative. For a larger image of hierba de conejo click here.
Hierba mora (Solanum nigrescens) is known as "divine nightshade" in English.[hierbamora1] Hierba mora is native to North and South America. Hierba mora is often used in soups. I cook it like spinach and add some balsamic vinegar. Click here for a larger image of hierba mora.
Hierba santa, sometimes called yerba santa or hoja santa in Spanish is native to Mexico. The heart shaped leaf of hierba santa is used in Mexican cooking, especially in green mole, tamales and in soups. It is also used as a wrapper for some Oaxacan cheeses. For a larger image of the hierba santa plant click here and for a larger image of the hierba santa leaf click here.
Higuerilla (Ricinus communis) also known as palmacristi, higuera del diablo and ricino in Spanish; and castor bean in English. The castor bean probably originates from tropical Africa and was introduced into the Americas during the colonial era. The plant can be seen growing along fence lines, along highways and abandoned lots; sometimes reaching heights of 10 meters. The seeds of the castor bean plant are used to make castor oil. The seeds of the plant are toxic and should be kept away from children. For a larger image of higuerilla click here.
The castor seed contains ricin, a toxic enzyme.
Huaje, sometimes spelled as guaje, has the same name in both English and Spanish; in Nahuatl it is called huaxin or guaxiquilitl.[huaje1] Huaje is native to Mexico and Central America with over 14 species, the most common being (Leucaena leucocephala) and (Leucaena esculenta).[huaje2] The name of the Mexican state of Oaxaca is derived from huaje, in Nahuatl Oaxaca is called huaxyacac or "in the nose of huaje" in English.[huaje3]
The first image above is of huaje pods and the second shows the flowers of huaje. Click here larger image of huaje pods. Huaje pods are opened just like pea pods and the seeds are removed. The third image is of huaje pods and seeds click here for a larger image. Huaje can be eaten raw or cooked; raw huaje seeds taste like peas, roasted ones taste like pine nuts. The seeds can be eaten whole but usually are crushed and added into moles and salsas. I have read that young pods of huaje are edible but I have never seen or heard of them being eaten in Mexico.
Huaje is used as an aphrodisiac in traditional Mexican medicine.[huaje4]
There a a variety of youtube videos showing how to prepare huaje including this one, you do need to speak or read Spanish to follow it. If you do not have a stone grinder, use your blender. I think I would add some roasted garlic and a tomatoe or two to the recipe.
Huauzontle (Chenopodium nuttalliae) is also known as cabellera de amaranto is native to Mexico. It is commonly consumed in central Mexico. I have eaten it slightly battered and fried in corn flour topped with a tomato sauce and in fried tortillas. For a larger image of huauzontle click here. For a larger image of huauzontle closeup click here.
Huitlacoche, sometimes spelled as cuitlacoche or in English, corn smut or smut of maize, is a fungus (Ustilago maydis) derived from the corn ear or maize ear.[huitlacoche1] In Mexico huitlacoche is considered a delicacy. For a larger image of huitlacoche click here.
(Ustilago maydis) infects the whole maize plant causing stunted growth and low yields. In the maize (corn) ears, (Ustilago maydis) grows between the kernels causing galls, gray to black growths that look like tumors. This is huitlacoche. Huitlacoche may not be pretty but its earthy taste gets it compared to truffles; huitlacoche is sometimes referred to as the "Mexican truffle."
Huitlacoche is usually prepared with onion, garlic, epazote, salt and chiles. Huitlacoche is used as filling in tacos, quesadillas and in omelettes. And it is also used in soups. If you have never eaten huitlacoche, I recommend trying it in an omelette so that you can taste the rich flavors. The best huitlacoche I have ever had was at a subway station in Mexico City, a deep fried quesadilla with huitlacoche, spinach and cheese. Although huitlacoche is compared to truffles, it is not expensive and is affordable even to those of low incomes.
I have bought prepared canned huitlacoche a few times; unfortunately its not usually available where I live. It was a bit salty but tasted fine and I would buy more of it if it were available.
Icaco (Chrysobalanus icaco) is native to North and South America. Icacos are slightly sweet with little flavor. Don't eat the seed. For a larger image of icacos click here.
Jamaica or Flor de jamaica is called hibiscus in English. The flowers of jamaica are made into a tea which is served cold and sweetened. Sometimes jamaica is made into a jam, which tastes like cranberries. Many believe that jamaica has medicinal powers which include treating urinary infections. In Mexico there are at least two varieties jamaica, a dark red variety and a red variety; I have tried both and I find there is no difference in flavor. For a larger image of jamaica plant click here. For a larger image of jamaica negra click here. For a larger image of jamaica roja click here.
Jícama is known as jicama or Mexican turnip in English. Jícama originates from Mexico. Jícama can be eaten raw or cooked but the peel needs to be removed first. Usually they are cut up into the size of carrot sticks and eaten raw with hot sauce. They can also be fried like french fries, I tried this once and they were o.k. but I never bothered to make them again. For a larger image of jícama click here.
Jinicuil is also known as cajiniquil and cuajinicuil is native to Central and South America. The pods are about a foot long (30 cm). The white cotton like pulp surrounds the seed. The sweet tasting pulp is edible, the seed is not. For a larger image of jiniquil click here.
The photo, "ejote tripa de pollo", comes from Facebook page: Region Del Alto Papaloapan Oaxaca Mexico. Spanish. Retrieved 2 December 2018.
All other photos are taken by Marc Wilkinson. I, the copyright holder, hereby publish these photos under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).