Ever wondered what makes Caribbean food and Trinidad food taste so, so good?
The not-so secret ingredient is Caribbean green seasoning.
It is full of fresh, intense flavor and it’s easy to make.
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What is Caribbean green seasoning
Caribbean green seasoning is a bright green sauce made with fresh herbs, garlic and pepper.
It is used as a marinade for seafood and meats and as a seasoning for most savory Caribbean recipes.
Green seasoning and salt are the only two things I add to raw chicken after washing and cleaning it.
You can find how I season raw chicken here.
What is in Caribbean green seasoning
So, full disclaimer, the green seasoning ingredients vary based on your preferences and what you can get your hands on. I’ll explain more in a bit, but the main ingredients in this seasoning include:
- chadon beni (also called bandhania, shado beni, culantro, or recao)
- pepper (like pimento, scotch bonnet, chilis, and more)
Other ingredients to add extra flavor include:
- Spanish thyme (also called podina or Mexican mint)
- fine thyme
Let’s look at some unique ingredients.
1. Chadon beni (or culantro)
Chadon beni is the backbone of Caribbean green seasoning. But it isn’t widely available throughout the world.
If you’ve never heard of it, take a look at this photo from my garden. And check out this ultimate guide to chadon beni to see all the names we use for the plant plus some of its proven benefits.
Since the plant is not popular, you may have to replace culantro with cilantro in this recipe. But, cilantro has a milder, less herbaceous taste. Adding a couple extra cloves of garlic to your seasoning will give that extra sharpness to create an effective replacement for culantro.
You can use the leaves to make chadon beni sauce too. Be sure to check out that recipe.
2. Spanish thyme (or Mexican mint)
Spanish thyme is another star in this seasoning. Here in the Caribbean, we call it podina or broad leaf thyme. It’s often called Indian borage, Cuban oregano, and Mexican mint.
Here’s a look at the plant from my garden.
No idea why it is called Mexican mint, but it does have a thyme-oregano smell and taste. So Spanish thyme adds these flavors to the seasoning.
And, by the way, do what you can to get your hands on this plant! Even the brownest of thumbs cannot kill this plant. It is a survivor!
Pimento and scotch bonnet peppers are the most common types you can use in the seasoning. But, chillis, cherry pepper, banana pepper and even pepper flakes or powders can be used.
It’s all based on your own preferences.
How to make green seasoning
For this particular recipe, I used chadon beni and podina leaves, garlic, pimento pepper, and ginger for a quick seasoning.
Chadon beni leaves grow very close to the ground, so they tend to have a lot of dirt under the leaves. Green seasoning is not cooked so it is important to wash the leaves thoroughly with warm water.
Wash the podina leaves too.
Peel and wash the garlic cloves. Do the same for ginger, if you are planning on using it in your seasoning.
If you are using fresh peppers, wash them and cut the stem off. If you like your seasoning extra spicy, you can leave the seeds in. But, for less heat, remove the seeds and white pith – that’s where all the spiciness is in the pepper.
With all the ingredients prepped, place the garlic cloves, ginger and water in a blender and pulse until smooth.
Next, add the leaves (maybe half at a time) and blend. I add half to ensure the blender can really pulverize everything without any additional water.
Add the remaining leaves and the pepper. Grind again until smooth.
Use immediately or bottle and store in the fridge. It can last about two weeks in the fridge. Freeze your green seasoning to increase its shelf life.
Tips for making green seasoning
- Green seasoning tends to oxidize and darken over time. If you skim the top dark layer, the underneath is often bright green. Although it has oxidized, the sauce is still good and useable.
- Ginger stops the oxidation process and keeps your seasoning bright green for days in the fridge! So, if you are concerned about the color of the seasoning, add an inch or two of ginger.
- Onions add an additional pungent flavor but they can spoil the seasoning. So, be sure to add a tablespoon of vinegar to preserve the seasoning. Or, better yet, don’t add onions!
- Rosemary and basil are very rarely added to Caribbean green seasoning. I added them in the ingredients list because, well, I use them sometimes in my seasoning… I do have them in my garden. While basil almost disappears in the seasoning, rosemary does not. It is powerful and cannot be hidden even by chadon beni. So, use a little rosemary if you don’t want it to overpower your seasoning and take it out of the ‘authentic Caribbean seasoning’ realm.
How long does green seasoning last in the fridge
One to two weeks is how long green seasoning will last in the fridge. Remember, it is not cooked or sterilized or preserved in anyway. So, be sure to use clean utensils (and plastic and wood are recommended in place of metal).
Where to buy Caribbean green seasoning
If you can’t get your hands on authentic Caribbean green seasoning ingredients or you just don’t have the time to make it, be sure to pick up these Caribbean brands from Amazon.
If you still can’t find them, remember the base for recaito or Puerto Rican sofrito sauce is chadon beni leaves. So, those might be a good substitute for this seasoning.
Caribbean Green Seasoning Recipe
Authentic Caribbean Green Seasoning
- 100 small culantro leaves (or 50 larger leaves)
- 3 Spanish thyme leaves
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 bulb garlic (peeled)
- 2 inches ginger (peeled)
- 1 pimento pepper
- 1/2 cup water
- Wash leaves with warm water.
- Peel and wash garlic and ginger
- Wash pepper, cut, remove seeds and white pitch
- Blend water, garlic and ginger.
- Add the leaves a little at a time and continue blending until it forms a thick paste.
- Add pepper and grind until smooth.
- Use immediately or bottle and store in the fridge.
Chadon Beni Sauce
Chadon beni sauce is a popular fresh condiment in Trinbago. It is a must-have on favorites like doubles and bake and shark. Try this recipe.
Browning sugar creates a rich, flavorful browning sauce that adds a molasses-like, smoky taste to many Caribbean dishes. It also acts like a natural food coloring.
Trinidad Food Products: 20 Must-Have Ingredients
From green seasoning to bitters, see the must-have ingredients in this Trinidad food products list.