Epazote in the Bay Area

I've known Dan Lehrer for almost 10 years. First at the Marin County Farmers Market on Sundays and later at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market on Saturdays. Do you have friends you really like that you don't know well? Dan is one of my favorite people and in addition to growing great apples, he has some beautiful, reasonably-priced plants he brings to the markets.



In addition to having great taste in obscure R&B music, Dan is interested in what we're doing at Rancho Gordo. I asked him about growing epazote and this year he has lots of plants for sale. The dried variety is petty nasty if you ask me, but the fresh is versatile and essential to any New World garden. It makes beans tastier and I still dream about an octopus dish I had at El Cardenal in Mexico City, simply grilled and then washed in olive oil and chopped epazote.


I'm told it can be invasive so best to start it out in a pot. I have an old plant that does die back each winter and comes back each spring. I suspect the plant bolted and the seeds are what's coming back but I'm not sure. It is a weed so it needs very little care from you.

Occasionally you see bunches of it in Mexican grocery stores but if you're serious about Mexican food, you'll want a plant of your own.

Be sure and experiment with wild mushrooms and epazote and a simple quesadilla is made into something grand with a little chopped stinkweed. A little goes a long way but that little is pretty swell.

Here's a previous post on epazote from the blog.

You can visit Dan on Saturdays at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Check his Facebook page for other markets and options.

2 Comments on Epazote in the Bay Area

  1. What a fabulous writeup, Steve! Remind me to leave plants at your stall more often.

    I think that Epazote is indeed perennial in the Bay Area, by the way. We had one that lasted for years, dying back to the ground every winter. It does spread its seed around a bit, but stray plants easy to hoick out of the ground, and then you’ve got another reason to cook a pot of beans.

  2. I have had three small epazote plants in containers in my Berkeley yard. Each year there is a time when I think they are done for, and each year they come back and flourish for a few months. I haven’t noticed if they are seeding the surroundings — if they are, they will have some major competition, as the currently reigning plants are ivy and blackberries.

    I only like epazote when it has been cooked for a long time, and therefore for me its primary use is in pots of Rancho Gordo beans.

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