Mexican cuisine is very popular and although many of the herbs are available in supermarkets, especially in the Southwest U.S., it is also fun to grow your own so you can experiment with some of the more unusual flavors. Find plants or seed at local specialty nurseries or online companies. Here are a few favorites to grow to add to your Mexican recipes:
Chile Peppers (Capsicum annuum) - Widely used as a spice or vegetable in cooking. The spice is used in well-known dishes such as chile con carne, but can also be made into your own special chili powder with cumin, garlic and oregano. The fruit is eaten cooked or raw for its hot flavor.
Cilantro (Coriandrum sativum) - The perfect herb for salsa and adds a fresh flavor to even canned ingredients especially tomatoes, however experiment with a small amount because it does have a strong, unique flavor that some think tastes like soap.
Cumin (Cuminum cyminum) - Adds a unique warm, earthy flavor to dishes and is a common element in four classic blends including chili powder.
Epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides) - An acquired taste as it is slightly bitter and musky with a hint of lemon. It is especially popular for flavoring beans of any kind and helps reduce some of the “negative” effects of eating beans.
Garlic (Allium sativum) - As indispensable as salt.
Garlic Chives (Allium tuberosum) - Fresh, sharp bite of garlic, this chive adds zest to many dishes without the peeling and chopping!
Hoja Santa (Piper auritum) - The complex flavor is not easily described, but typically used fresh to wrap tamales for cooking and as an essential ingredient in mole verde.
Mexican Mint Marigold (Tagetes lucinda) - Milder yet more anise-like, the leaves may be used in any dish calling for French tarragon plus the bright blossoms are also edible!
Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus) - Entire plant is edible with a slightly peppery honey-lemon taste plus the seeds can even be ground and used as a replacement for pepper.
Mexican oregano (Lippia graveolens) - Utilized as a spice throughout Mexico, the flavor complements many dishes including pinto beans and soups.
Flat-leaf parsley (Petroselinum crispum var. neopolitanum) - Faint peppery tang which can be added to most any dish plus lessens the need for salt, adds color and thus visual appeal, compliments the flavor of other herbs, lightens the taste of garlic and the odor of fish, and stretches homemade sauces
Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica) - Key ingredient in fresh and cooked Latin American green sauces
“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people,
especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”