ingredient: hoja santa

by sj

also: Piper auritum, yerba santa, huascas, pepperleaf, root beer plant

Shelf life: fresh must be used within few days to a week, store in refrigerator and keep dry. Frozen leaves can be stored for about 6 months to 1 year. Dried leaves can keep for about 6 months to a year when kept dry and sealed in a cool, dark place.

flavour profile: sweet spice, sassafras, hints of mint, eucalyptus, and tarragon

pairs well with: anise, chervil, chicory, chiles, cinnamon, citrus, clove, corn, cream, dairy (mild, rich products), dill, fennel, fruit, leeks, legumes,mint, mushrooms, nuts, onions, parsley, root vegges, tarragon

cuisines: latin american, mexican

special notes: dried leaves are best toasted before use, fresh leaves are excellent for wrapping foods, especially creamy rich cheeses

These fuzzy, large, heart shaped leaves hail from the Piper auritum plant, for those of you into plant taxonomy, that is the same genus as the classic black peppercorn, which this plant shares some characteristics with. Peppery, with notes of mint and eucalyptus, and the sweet spice flavour of sassafras,  that is reminiscent of root beer (thanks to its safrole content), tarragon, and licorice. It is widely used in its native region (south, central, and southeast north america) as a wrap for cheeses and foods, added to various dishes (sweet and savory) for flavour, and used in beverages, it can be found fresh in some well-stocked markets specialising in foods from those regions, and can be found growing around the US southeast if you feel like seeking it out in the wild. You can sometimes (rarely) find the leaves frozen, or freeze them yourself, though this tends to make them less usable for wrapping. The dried leaves are readily found in hispanic grocers, tiendas, and mercados, though their flavour is far less potent, they still make a wonderful addition to foods and they are far easier to find for most people.

You can find the dried leaves online here

...and now for something similar:

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