Yummy Mexican Plants and Flowers You Need To Try!
When it comes to delicious food, Mexico has a wide variety of tasty options and it’s not just tacos al pastor that delight our palates, but also edible plants and flowers. They are delicious and full of nutrients that your body needs everyday. Here are some that will make you want to be adventurous and try these amazing flowers and plants.
Nopales are everywhere around Mexico: on the side of the roads, growing wild at the back of your garden, on veggie stalls in your local market, and even in our coat of arms. They’re an icon, not just of Mexican culture, but also of the cuisine. They’re the perfect garnish if prepared as a fresh salad with coriander, onion, tomato and jalapeños; you can also have them grilled to accompany a good taquiza; you can stew nopales and add them to your veggie soup. You can even combine nopales with celery and orange in a strong anti-cold juice. It’s a highly nutritious, high-fiber plant that also helps to keep cholesterol and blood glucose levels in check. Don’t let its slimy texture keep you away because it’s quite tasty.
Huauzontles are eaten whole, including branches, leaves and flowers. They can be found in some broths (mole is one of them), but the traditional way to try them is in croquettes stuffed with Oaxaca cheese. The traditional sauce used for this dish is made of pasilla chiles, but if you cant find them, serrano peppers will do fine. Huauzontles are among a group of edible herbs referred by Mexicans as quelites. They are wild, non-cultivated veggies that are found as sub-products of other crops, mainly cornfields. The use of quelites is a pre Hispanic tradition, centered on the things that nature gives us without asking anything in return.
Who would have thought that those small flowers growing at the top of a giant cactus would be so delicious! Tetechas are super tasty, highly nutritious and versatile. You can prepare them any way you like: as a soup, with your favorite mole or you can just throw some of them into any stew for the extra flavor. However, the easiest and best way to enjoy a typical dish including tetechas is to visit central Mexico, specifically the town of Zapotitlán Salinas in Puebla between April and June, when tetechas are in season and appear on every menu.
Almost every Mexican household or restaurant has Jamaica (hibiscus flowers) in the pantry, but not many people take advantage of these flowers beyond the preparation of the traditional agua de Jamaica. Fortunately, Jamaica has been recently incorporated into the Mexican cuisine as a strong component of savory and sweet dishes, hot salsas and even in baked goods. A piece of advice, when preparing anything with Jamaica, you can recycle some of the flowers you previously used to make tea; the flavor will still be intense and delicious. Jamaica tea can be drank cold or hot and it is said to help lower cholesterol and high blood pressure.
Tuna (Prickly Pear)
Mexico produces these delicious Tunas, not to be mistaken for fish. They are everywhere—a refreshing snack eaten out of hand and a popular ingredient in candies, drinks, jams, and more. In Oaxaca, they spoon a dollop of pureed tunas on top of horchata, the milky rice drink, but you can use it just about anywhere you’d use an apple—in salads, for example, or even in tarts. The cactus grows wild all over Mexico; it’s also cultivated on plantations. Varieties number in the hundreds, with flavor profiles ranging from creamy-sweet to brisk and tart. The dark nubs on the skin contain sharp spines, but these are easily removed by slicing off the ends of the fruit, making lengthwise incisions, and peeling back the rind to reveal the luscious flesh. They are rich in vitamin C, dietary fiber and a good source of antioxidant.
Colorines or gasparitos are part of the traditional cuisine of Veracruz (in the Gulf of Mexico), but most people don’t know how to prepare them and it’s common to find these flowers scattered around the streets of Mexico, where the tree is quite common. Colorines are bright-red colored flowers, growing in clusters, that appear almost synchronous with the violet explosion of the jacaranda tree. The seeds and other parts of the plant are toxic, but the flowers are perfectly edible when cooked; they have a strong flavor -some say it tastes like beef- and they’re very appreciated among the people that knows how to prepare them. Here’s a recipe to prepare the traditional gasparitos croquettes. It’s a Veracruz delicacy that you should try whenever you have the opportunity.
A very famous herb from the Mexican Southeast, especially in the state of Yucatan. This plant is one of those superfoods that have every possible vitamin and mineral your body needs and just the right amount of proteins you’re seeking to maintain an active lifestyle. It helps with digestion, improve vision, weightloss, a natural decongestant, improves memory and even helps with diabetes. However, it’s important to consider that fresh chaya is toxic, so it’s important to boil it before consumption. Once cooked, you can do juices, fruit shakes, tamales, salads or stews. Don’t forget the name.
This isn’t even a plant! It’s a mushroom that infects corn crops, but it certainly deserves a honorable mention. Anyone who has ever seen an corncob infected with huitlacoche might have doubted that eating it was actually the wise thing to do. Huitlacoche isn’t the prettiest thing in the market -it’s not even pretty when compared to other mushrooms-, its characteristic black color could dissuade some foodies, but the story changes once it’s mixed with epazote, garlic and you put it inside a blue tortilla or a tortilla in general… you’ll be immediately hooked. It has more protein than corn, and it’s packed with lysine, an essential amino acid. Every year, during the rainy season, huitlacoche fever rises and most people will enjoy buying a little bit of the fresh mushroom, even if it’s the most expensive thing in their shopping list!