Plants and edible flowers that you can find in Mexico and how to prepare them. - Matador Spanish

Nopales

We started with an icon, not only of Mexican cuisine, but of our culture. The nopal is that plant that is represented in the Mexican national shield, but also plays an important role in our gastronomy. It is the perfect garnish if prepared as a salad with cilantro, onion and chile; also serve to complement a good taquiza if they are roasted to the coal; can be the basis of a good stew; can be added to a vegetable soup and even taken in juice combined with orange and celery. It is an extremely nutritious plant, is an important source of fiber and helps control cholesterol levels and blood glucose. A little bit slimy ... but very rich. Huauzontles Huauzontle is an herb -like amaranth- that would not impress anyone at first glance, but which once prepared will make many ask for the recipe ... and again for the name that is not so easy to remember. The huauzontles eat completitos, including branches, leaves and flowers, only the thicker branches are discarded. They are the perfect seasoning for many wines, but the most traditional way to prepare them is in pancakes with cheese dipped in pasilla chile sauce.

The huauzontles and other herbs - such as holy leaf, , the romerites and the papalo- are quelites; this means that they are wild herbs that are used as a by-product of other crops, especially milpa. The use of the quelites is a concept that comes from pre-Hispanic Mexico and focuses on the things that nature provides on its own.

Tetechas

The bag with jamaica flowers is one of those elements that are present in most Mexican homes; however, very few people take advantage of it beyond the preparation of the traditional fresh waters. Jamaican has been incorporated in the new Mexican cuisine in a wide variety of dishes, from sauces to desserts, and one of the recipes that most calls the attention for its simplicity and for being a variant of a fairly common in the tables of all Mexico , is that of Jamaican enchiladas. Eye, when they prepare any saucer with jamaica, they can reuse the flowers that they boiled previously to become a water; the flavor will not be so concentrated, but they still serve and still taste rich.

Colorines

Colorines or gasparitos are iconic elements of Veracruz cuisine, although it is common to find them pulled by all streets of Mexico. They are red flowers that are in clusters and that appear between February and March, almost in synchrony with the purple explosion of the jacarandas. Although the seeds of the colorin and other parts of the plant are poisonous, the flowers are perfectly edible if cooked. Their strong taste - similar to the one of the meat they say - has made these flowers remain in the taste of those who test them. There are no good pancakes in the sauce of your choice to grab the taste of these flowers that we all appreciate, but not many have had the pleasure of tasting.

Pumpkin flower.

This plant is very famous in the area of ​​Yucatan. Like huauzontle, chaya is also a quelite and is one of those plants that seems sent to do for human consumption by the large amount of proteins, vitamins and minerals that it presents; however, it is important to mention that fresh chaya is toxic, so it should always boil before being consumed and should never be boiled in aluminum utensils. Once the chaya is boiled, we can do with it as we please: juices, smoothies, tamales, salads and stews. How about a chaya recipe to gratin to begin?

Acitrón

The acitrón is a typical Mexican sweet that is extracted from the biznaga, a type of cactus that is distributed in the downtown area of ​​Mexico. The pulp of the biznaga crystallizes, leaving a sweet of yellow color that is common to find in the markets. This product is traditionally used to decorate the Reyes thread and is a fundamental element of the chiles en nogada. However, we must mention that the acitrón has a dark side: the exploitation of the biznaga to produce this sweet has caused that the populations of this plant decay and at the moment is under special protection. The extraction of the biznaga is illegal, and although the producers and merchants of acitrón have found the way to keep its product within the reach of the consumer, we must know the damage that is being done on a plant so characteristic of Mexico to maintain a sweet in our table.

Huitlacoche

Cover image credit: Thomassin Mickaël.

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