Ajwain and Epazote

Ajwain and epazote are two spices that our bean-loving family couldn’t live without.

I’ve highlighted both of them in my post on How to De-Gas Beans, but here is more detail about them.

Ajwain is one of the spices mentioned in my post on Savory Hummus.  It, along with epazote, helps with the digestion of beans.

Recently there has been a lot of attention paid to other cultures and their native ways of cooking.  Just like there are some old wives’ tales that actually are true, there are a lot of cultural traditions surrounding foods that had better nutrition at the root of their existence.

I was introduced to ajwain a few years ago by a friend who is a master of all things spice and was the manager of a spice store at the time.  I mentioned to her that we were eating a lot (emphasis on “lot”) of beans and that this was sometimes a source of digestive distress for our family.  We were already soaking, draining and rinsing our beans before cooking, but we were still having some undesirable effects of the high bean diet :-).

Ah yes, brings back memories of that old rhyme,  “Beans, beans, the magical fruit…”

My friend said to try ajwain and epazote when cooking beans, adding them to the bean water after soaking and draining the beans.

What a difference!   And you don’t need to use very much of either spice:

For ajwain:

Use 1/4 tsp per 2 cups of cooked beans to the pot (1 cup dried beans yields approx 3 cups cooked).

I count the number of dried beans that I am using, multiply by 3 and then count off how many 1/4 tsps I need.

For example, if I am cooking 4 cups of dried beans, that will yield about 12 cups of cooked beans.  So I will need 1/4 tsp x 6 or 1 1/2 tsp ajwain.  To make it easy without calculating, I think, “OK.  I am cooking 12 cups of beans so I count off 1/4 tsps of ajwain while dumping it into the pot and counting by 2 for each 1/4 teaspoon.  For 12 cups that means I would add six quarter teaspoons of ajwain.

For epazote, add approximately 1 Tbsp per 3 cups cooked beans or 1 cup dried beans.

You use more epazote in volume per pot of beans, but it weighs considerably less than the ajwain so the cost equals out a bit.

I tried to find out which spice works best for which kind of beans and I was not able to get consistent answers on this topic.  I do find that epazote is more typically used in Mexican and Hispanic dishes and its flavor complements black, pinto, cranberry beans, and the like.  Ajwain works well with, and its taste is well-suited to garbanzos (chick peas), split peas, and lentils.

At first when we started to use these, we noticed a slight change in the flavor of the dish, but it truly is not strong at all.

Here are some photos of both for “illustrative purposes” :-):

Here is ajwain seed:

And here is epazote:

As for where to buy these, and for the answer to my reader’s question, they are available at many international groceries but I purchase mine at Mountain Rose Herbs.  They have a wonderful selection of organic and herbal products.  Penzeys is another purveyor of spices that carries both items, but I prefer the organic option.

More on spice resources in another posting…

Until then, enjoy the magical fruit without the toot — and Happy New Year!

Have you ever heard of ajwain or epazote?

Healthy Living Information You Can Trust

Delicious recipes and nutritious knowledge delivered fresh to your inbox.

Comments

    Speak Your Mind

    *

  1. Might it still work if I grind the Ajwain seeds? I have trouble with some small seeds.

  2. My family is mainly vegetarian and so we eat a lot of beans (although less recently). We’ve had great success in decreasing the ability of the “magical fruit” to torment us after dinner by using Kombu.
    Kombu is a dried sea vegetable and comes in either packaged form or sometimes bulk depending on the store.
    To use: Break off approx 3 inch strip of Kombu and rinse in water to rinse off excess salt. Add to beans in cooking water and cook along with beans. When beans are done, remove the Kombu strip (sometimes it shreds and I pick it out but you can eat it.)
    We notice a huge difference in digestive issues when we use Kombu- it’s great!
    Adrienne, love your blog! Also, to clarify the amount of ajwain, etc to add to beans, why not leave off the “cooked” bean amount and just give directions for how much to use for dry beans- it will shorten the recipe, be easier to figure out- because we all start with dry beans! Thanks!

  3. After soaking overnight, then draining, I cook the beans with just a pinch of Ginger to avoid gas problems from beans. My mom used to always do that.

  4. We sell epazote at our garden center, I wasn’t sure if I should buy it. My bf has gout and we need to cut beans. However I make a lot of bean and split pea soups for church meals. Would you use fresh epazote or dried?

  5. Do you how it works?
    What is the spice chemically doing to the beans to cause them to liberate their gas?

  6. Last year I saw an episode of Guy Fieri’s “Diner’s Drive-ins, and Dives” on Food Network. He was at a Mexican restaurant, and the chef/owner was making their pinto beans with epazote. Guy had never heard of it and asked what it was for. The chef said, “It’s an anti-carminitive.” Guy said, “Anti-what-a-tive?” The chef answered, “Reduces flatulence.”

  7. About a year ago, I ordered fresh curry leaves. What I got was a bag full of Ajwain. I wrote the sellers and pointed out their mistake. They told me to keep it and sent me some information about it. Unfortunately, the information was not very helpful to someone who had never heard of nor tasted it before. Hm. I am so glad I read your guide to de-gassing beans. Now I know what to do with that big bag of ajwain!

  8. shelby foreman says:

    Mountain Rose is having a sale on 16oz of Ajwain for April…15% off making it $5.95/lb
    Do they ever have free shipping?

  9. Will adding the herb to already cooked beans help with the problem at all, or it that a waste of time (and herb)? I started with dry beans but have canned them and am wondering if ajwain will help.

  10. I’ve had this article bookmarked for a while and finally got around to ordering from Penzeys since Mountain Rose Herbs no longer carries epazote. I wish I had read the comments first! I used both ajwain and epazote in your recommended amounts instead of just one or the other plus I soaked my beans in ACV water like another friend suggested to help with gas. I added my usual salt, pepper and soup bone. Oh my word the result was nasty! My husband told me to trash it after one taste and a spit in the sink, and he usually adores the beans I make! The beans themselves have no flavor from the vinegar soak I assume and the taste of the epazote is overwhelmingly gross. My epazote from Penzeys looks a bit finer than what you have in the picture and on the bag it says to use only ONE tablespoon per pot of beans, not three like I used for my three cups of dried beans. Maybe different brands are stronger? Hopefully someone can learn from my mistake! Adrienne you said you wrote an article about why not to use the acidic medium. Can you direct me to it please?

    • I am sorry – maybe their epazote has a problem? Sometimes I don’t care for the flavor.

      Can you remind me of the acidic medium context? Thanks.

  11. I saw this comment from a couple years ago.

    Adrienne says:
    November 14, 2011 at 3:53 pm
    Hi Beth –
    You are not dense . You do not need the acid medium regardless. In fact, there is now evidence that you don’t need it for grains either. I hope to post on this soon. I add the spices when I put the cold beans in the pot.
    Let me know if you need more info!

    • Got it. I have been swamped! There is some research stating that you can just soak grains in water and it does the same thing. I will try to get on it – thanks for keeping me on my toes. Well, I already was. Just overwhelmed !

  12. mountain rose herbs no longer sells Epazote.

  13. Thanks for the ratios. I made some pinto beans and had a reaction to them. I had little sores all over my mouth. I made many mistakes making them. I soaked them, but didn’t rinse them. I cooked them in broth, that had salt in it. They never got soft. The beans were probably old, quite a few had grey on them. I ate them many days in a row. When I’d eat them my mouth would tingle a little. I thought it was the salty chips I ate with them. It took my dentist and I a while to figure it out.

  14. I searched for epazote on Mountain Rose Herbs and got 0 results. How can I find it? I found the other just fine and can’t wait to try it! Thanks.