Huacatey (Tagetes minuta)
Tagetes minuta is a culinary herb related to marigold that’s known as Huacatay, Peruvian Black Mint or Southern Cone Marigold among many other regional names. In terms of flavor, Huacatay carries the burden of comparison to the flavor of black licorice: you will either love it, or hate it, and we at Sow Exotic fall hard on the love it side. Huactay proves itself an everlasting herbaceous species, with documented use as a medicinal tea, condiment, and use for flavor in popular rice dishes and stews. It is popularly used to make Peruvian Black mint sauce, which flavors grilled seafood and chicken dishes. We even to use it fresh in cocktails or floral mocktails!
In terms of cultivation, Huacatay grows almost effortlessly and is self-propagating in its native habitats of the Americas, including the southern United States, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, and Paraguay. Huacatay is most commonly grown and used in Bolivia and Peru for use as a popular culinary spice. Although it can be a burden to some farmers in Latin America, more optimistic horticulturalists consider it a ‘double-crop’ opportunity where it spreads wildly, collecting handfuls of it before winter frosts cut its growing season short. Local names for Huacatay will vary by region, but are found in literature as ‘wakataya, chinchilla, chiquilla, chilca, zuico, suico, or the Spanish term anisillo.’