Q&A #1: What is Green Seasoning?

This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series Q&A

Q&A with TriniGourmet

One of the unexepcted pleasures of running this site is getting a chance to hear and answer your questions. Some of you are Trinis who have lived abroad for some time. Some of you are foreigners who have come to love a certain special Trinbagonian and want to recreate their culinary memories. Others of you are foreigners who have visited our shores and want to recreate some of the dishes you’ve tasted, or maybe you are just curious about Caribbean cooking and culture and stumbled your way here. Whatever your reason I’m glad you’ve taken the time to drop me a line :) Because many of your questions are questions that I am sure others share, from time to time I will feature Readers’ questions (and my answers) in a feature I’m calling ‘Q&A with TriniGourmet’.

Reader’s Questions:
• Do you have any recipes for making green seasoning?
• Is Green Seasoning hot? (I have my eye on purchasing the Turban Green Seasoning)

TriniGourmet’s Answer:

My version of green seasoning is very loose and free form :) Basically i just grab a bunch of culantro (chadon beni), garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and blend it with some olive oil (or regular vegetable oil). If you can’t find culantro, go ahead and use cilantro. Somtimes I also add hot sauce or chopped scotch bonnet pepper :) … I don’t do measurements, just go with what’s on hand and feels right, you can throw in parsley too and celery I’m sure :) Give it a try!

One of the above questions came to me from a Jamaican woman married to a Trini. Like many foreigners she was curious about this mythical and mystical Green seasoning that is such a key component in most Trini meat and fish-based dishes.

I have no idea how prevalent Green Seasoning is throughout the Caribbean. My Jamaican mother (like the above reader) never knew about it til she moved here, and still has no use for it. However I do know that there are some other islands in the Caribbean that consider this a key part of their cooking.

Green seasoning comes in many different formulations, and these vary as much between islands as they do between homes within one island.

Recently one of my Brit-blogging friends, Trig, tried his hand at making a batch of his own. His post led to me and Chennette realizing the similarities and differences between our own versions.

Unlike many Trinis I don’t make green seasoning in batches to be bottled. I prefer to make as much as I will use in one go. This emphasis on making it fresh each time comes probably from my own mother’s paranoia and suspicion of ‘bottled seasonings’ (did I mention she doesn’t use Green Seasoning ;) )

For those who have no problem with bottled seasonings and/or no interest in making green seasoning from scratch many supermarket versions abound.

Green Seasoning

Like my version, posted above, the bottled versions all feature garlic and chadon beni (culantro) as the key flavour notes. When I lived abroad scoring a bottle of this stuff was like heaven. Just a whiff of the bottle was enough to spread a smile across my face and those of other ‘displaced’ Trinis. Then if you were like me you put some on the tip of your finger to lick before nodding and going ‘yes… this is d real ting’ :D

If -you- have a version of Green Seasoning that you would like to share feel free to add it via the comments form. I’d love to hear from you! There is a recipe for Trini Green seasoning that I see circulating online that involves copious amounts of vinegar and celery. Is this version one that is actually used? I must say that it strikes me as rather unappetizing so I am quite curious to see how popular it really is.

Oh! And one more thing, like any good Trini cook would tell you, be sure to ‘stab up yuh meat’ so that the seasoning really has a chance to penetrate, oh and give the meat and seasoning time to get to know each other. Preferably overnight :)

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Passionate foodie, founder of Trinigourmet and Caribbean Lifestyle Maven. Author of "Glam By Request: 30+ Easy Caribbean Recipes"

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  • http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com Trig

    Those bottles of “green” seasoning look freakishly brown for my liking. Is that normal for shop bought green seasoning where you are? I’m only asking because the variety my mum’s friend brought back from Monserrat was literally bright green

  • http://www.aidanbrooks.blogspot.com Trig

    Those bottles of “green” seasoning look freakishly brown for my liking. Is that normal for shop bought green seasoning where you are? I’m only asking because the variety my mum’s friend brought back from Monserrat was literally bright green

  • http://chennette.wordpress.com Chennette

    ey – I have a green seasoning post waiting in drafts…waiting for pictures of local celery :-)

  • http://chennette.wordpress.com Chennette

    ey – I have a green seasoning post waiting in drafts…waiting for pictures of local celery :-)

  • http://laurelsfoodwriter.blogspot.com Marsha

    So it’s like pesto then?!

  • http://laurelsfoodwriter.blogspot.com Marsha

    So it’s like pesto then?!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Trig – freakishly brown? more like olive… but whatever… and yes that is normal… i’ve never seen bright green but they probably use different stuff in Monsterrat *shrug*

    Chennette – I took a pic of local celery in Hi-Lo today, great minds think alike! :lol:

    Marsha – where you been hiding??? Don’t play like you don’t know green seasoning! And no, it’s not like pesto???

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Trig – freakishly brown? more like olive… but whatever… and yes that is normal… i’ve never seen bright green but they probably use different stuff in Monsterrat *shrug*

    Chennette – I took a pic of local celery in Hi-Lo today, great minds think alike! :lol:

    Marsha – where you been hiding??? Don’t play like you don’t know green seasoning! And no, it’s not like pesto???

  • http://pumpsandgloss.wordpress.com AppleDiva

    Hmm that question looks vaguely familiar LOL. My hubby and I were talking about making green seasoning the other day. I think we are going to try it this weekend. ;) Thanks for the reminder. Awesome Blog!!

  • http://pumpsandgloss.wordpress.com AppleDiva

    Hmm that question looks vaguely familiar LOL. My hubby and I were talking about making green seasoning the other day. I think we are going to try it this weekend. ;) Thanks for the reminder. Awesome Blog!!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    AppleDiva – hehehehe, i was trying not to buss yuh files :lol:

    have fun making it, let me know how it turns out! :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    AppleDiva – hehehehe, i was trying not to buss yuh files :lol:

    have fun making it, let me know how it turns out! :)

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    AppleDiva – hehehehe, i was trying not to buss yuh files :lol:

    have fun making it, let me know how it turns out! :)

  • http://pumpsandgloss.wordpress.com AppleDiva

    Sarina,

    I found Green Seasoning @ a store in Ontario, Canada. I will see how it works. The Hubby and I will make still make our own. The brand is called Mr. Goudas.

  • http://pumpsandgloss.wordpress.com AppleDiva

    Sarina,

    I found Green Seasoning @ a store in Ontario, Canada. I will see how it works. The Hubby and I will make still make our own. The brand is called Mr. Goudas.

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    AppleDiva – never heard of that one, where’s it made? I’ll google it :) Yes yes make yuh own chile, it’s eeeeeeeasy :D

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    AppleDiva – never heard of that one, where’s it made? I’ll google it :) Yes yes make yuh own chile, it’s eeeeeeeasy :D

  • http://www.recipezaar.com/member/341142 JulieMango

    The best thing is absolutely to make fresh green seasoning. However it is a big timesaver in the kitchen to have it ready to go so I make green seasoning in weekly batches. I don’t keep it any longer than that because by then it starts to get ‘brown’ olive green like the ones on the grocery shelves. I NEVER use those and consider them to be a waste of my money. The flavour comes from the fresh herbs. The stuff that has been sitting on those grocery shelves for months tastes nothing like the fresh stuff. Do a taste test and see for yourself. Also the bright green ones have food colouring and the ratio of herbs used is actually very little….okay okay you get the idea I don’t like bottled green seasoning….oh and yes I do use celery tops as well as garlic, shandon beni, french, spanish and portuguese thyme to make mine. I saw Giada top some staeks once with a version of this and she called it salsa verde! The Spanish Caribbean islands also have a base seasoning mix called sofrito

    • GreenSeasoningLover

      JulieMango, this is the first time I've ever heard of Portuguese Thyme. What is it? And where can it be found? Am I the only person who has never heard of it?

  • http://www.recipezaar.com/member/341142 JulieMango

    The best thing is absolutely to make fresh green seasoning. However it is a big timesaver in the kitchen to have it ready to go so I make green seasoning in weekly batches. I don’t keep it any longer than that because by then it starts to get ‘brown’ olive green like the ones on the grocery shelves. I NEVER use those and consider them to be a waste of my money. The flavour comes from the fresh herbs. The stuff that has been sitting on those grocery shelves for months tastes nothing like the fresh stuff. Do a taste test and see for yourself. Also the bright green ones have food colouring and the ratio of herbs used is actually very little….okay okay you get the idea I don’t like bottled green seasoning….oh and yes I do use celery tops as well as garlic, shandon beni, french, spanish and portuguese thyme to make mine. I saw Giada top some staeks once with a version of this and she called it salsa verde! The Spanish Caribbean islands also have a base seasoning mix called sofrito

    • GreenSeasoningLover

      JulieMango, this is the first time I've ever heard of Portuguese Thyme. What is it? And where can it be found? Am I the only person who has never heard of it?

  • TriniMax, Leeds, England

    Re the question about celery, it refers to what many people in England call flat parsley, or if there’s none around, then the top leaves only from celery in the supermarket.

    White vinegar is used for the preservative effect if keeping the green seasoning in the fridge.

    • GreenSeasoningLover

      I've found that while vinegar works as a preservative, it can spoil the taste of dishes where you don't want that acid taste. So, I use as little water as I can for the food processor to work, and add salt instead to the seasoning mix as a preservative. It just means that when I am adding the green seasoning my dish I have to adjust the salt that I add in addition to the seasoning, but I've never had a problem.

  • TriniMax, Leeds, England

    Re the question about celery, it refers to what many people in England call flat parsley, or if there’s none around, then the top leaves only from celery in the supermarket.

    White vinegar is used for the preservative effect if keeping the green seasoning in the fridge.

    • GreenSeasoningLover

      I've found that while vinegar works as a preservative, it can spoil the taste of dishes where you don't want that acid taste. So, I use as little water as I can for the food processor to work, and add salt instead to the seasoning mix as a preservative. It just means that when I am adding the green seasoning my dish I have to adjust the salt that I add in addition to the seasoning, but I've never had a problem.

  • tricia

    hey you guys i make fresh greens seasongs weekly for sale holla at me to make an order 486-0359

  • tricia

    hey you guys i make fresh greens seasongs weekly for sale holla at me to make an order 486-0359

  • tricia

    hey you guys i make fresh greens seasongs weekly for sale holla at me to make an order 486-0359

  • Shelley

    When I first moved to Trinidad a woman used to sell us bunches of ‘seasoning’ wrapped up in a rubber band at the gate. We lived in Maraval at the base of the Paramin Hills. These bunches were available at all the stalls and markets too with the ingredients never varying – ‘cive’ or ‘chive’ otherwise known as spring onion or green onion was the bulkiest ingredient (about 4 stems), a good sprig of thyme, a couple of sprigs of Shadon Beni (coriander leaf or cilantro is the equivalent), and some flat leaf parsley (or celery tops). This would be ground up with a little vinegar and scotch bonnet as desired, rubbed into meat (any and every meat!!) to be then cooked in a curry, pelau, stew chicken, BBQ, you name it! I never saw oil put into seasoning and the fresh made was always better than store bought. The greatest ingredient in Trini cooking that I can’t buy here in NZ is the pimento or …. can’t remember what it is called there…. it’s not actually a pimento, it looks like a red scotch bonnet but it’s not hot and has an incredible flavour. Funny practice too of washing meat and fish with water and flour before marinating to ‘get rid of the freshness’. Hmm, makes me want to go cook me up some goat!!

  • Shelley

    When I first moved to Trinidad a woman used to sell us bunches of ‘seasoning’ wrapped up in a rubber band at the gate. We lived in Maraval at the base of the Paramin Hills. These bunches were available at all the stalls and markets too with the ingredients never varying – ‘cive’ or ‘chive’ otherwise known as spring onion or green onion was the bulkiest ingredient (about 4 stems), a good sprig of thyme, a couple of sprigs of Shadon Beni (coriander leaf or cilantro is the equivalent), and some flat leaf parsley (or celery tops). This would be ground up with a little vinegar and scotch bonnet as desired, rubbed into meat (any and every meat!!) to be then cooked in a curry, pelau, stew chicken, BBQ, you name it! I never saw oil put into seasoning and the fresh made was always better than store bought. The greatest ingredient in Trini cooking that I can’t buy here in NZ is the pimento or …. can’t remember what it is called there…. it’s not actually a pimento, it looks like a red scotch bonnet but it’s not hot and has an incredible flavour. Funny practice too of washing meat and fish with water and flour before marinating to ‘get rid of the freshness’. Hmm, makes me want to go cook me up some goat!!

  • Shelley

    When I first moved to Trinidad a woman used to sell us bunches of ‘seasoning’ wrapped up in a rubber band at the gate. We lived in Maraval at the base of the Paramin Hills. These bunches were available at all the stalls and markets too with the ingredients never varying – ‘cive’ or ‘chive’ otherwise known as spring onion or green onion was the bulkiest ingredient (about 4 stems), a good sprig of thyme, a couple of sprigs of Shadon Beni (coriander leaf or cilantro is the equivalent), and some flat leaf parsley (or celery tops). This would be ground up with a little vinegar and scotch bonnet as desired, rubbed into meat (any and every meat!!) to be then cooked in a curry, pelau, stew chicken, BBQ, you name it! I never saw oil put into seasoning and the fresh made was always better than store bought. The greatest ingredient in Trini cooking that I can’t buy here in NZ is the pimento or …. can’t remember what it is called there…. it’s not actually a pimento, it looks like a red scotch bonnet but it’s not hot and has an incredible flavour. Funny practice too of washing meat and fish with water and flour before marinating to ‘get rid of the freshness’. Hmm, makes me want to go cook me up some goat!!

  • Shelley

    When I first moved to Trinidad a woman used to sell us bunches of ‘seasoning’ wrapped up in a rubber band at the gate. We lived in Maraval at the base of the Paramin Hills. These bunches were available at all the stalls and markets too with the ingredients never varying – ‘cive’ or ‘chive’ otherwise known as spring onion or green onion was the bulkiest ingredient (about 4 stems), a good sprig of thyme, a couple of sprigs of Shadon Beni (coriander leaf or cilantro is the equivalent), and some flat leaf parsley (or celery tops). This would be ground up with a little vinegar and scotch bonnet as desired, rubbed into meat (any and every meat!!) to be then cooked in a curry, pelau, stew chicken, BBQ, you name it! I never saw oil put into seasoning and the fresh made was always better than store bought. The greatest ingredient in Trini cooking that I can’t buy here in NZ is the pimento or …. can’t remember what it is called there…. it’s not actually a pimento, it looks like a red scotch bonnet but it’s not hot and has an incredible flavour. Funny practice too of washing meat and fish with water and flour before marinating to ‘get rid of the freshness’. Hmm, makes me want to go cook me up some goat!!

  • Janelle

    you know what i do sometimes? throw in some green mango in the blender along with the other greens. it’s awesome in everything YUM

  • Janelle

    you know what i do sometimes? throw in some green mango in the blender along with the other greens. it’s awesome in everything YUM

  • Omar

    Is there anywhere in London where I can buy a freshly made green seasoning?

    Or if anyone can tell me an exact recipe with exact measurements?

    Is it quite hard to get the same authentic ingredients in London as they use in Trini?

  • Omar

    Is there anywhere in London where I can buy a freshly made green seasoning?

    Or if anyone can tell me an exact recipe with exact measurements?

    Is it quite hard to get the same authentic ingredients in London as they use in Trini?

  • Omar

    Is there anywhere in London where I can buy a freshly made green seasoning?

    Or if anyone can tell me an exact recipe with exact measurements?

    Is it quite hard to get the same authentic ingredients in London as they use in Trini?

  • CAROL GONZALEZ

    I live in Sutton, Surrey, U.K. and I am having problems locating ‘Promasa’ yellow cornmeal. Can you advise me, if you know, of any market/delicatessen in the London area that I can purchase Promasa, for my Trini Christmas pastelles? I know it is the best because I used it in Florida when I lived there. Also poncha de creama/poncha crema, is it sold already made up in a bottle like eggnog and if you know of any outlet to purchase it in London, U.K.?
    I look forward to your reply.
    Regards
    Carol Gonzalez(a Trini woman in the U.K.)

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Dear Carol, unfortunately I don’t know the answers however I have many readers in the UK. I will share your question with them tomorrow. Tune in for their replies :)

  • CAROL GONZALEZ

    I live in Sutton, Surrey, U.K. and I am having problems locating ‘Promasa’ yellow cornmeal. Can you advise me, if you know, of any market/delicatessen in the London area that I can purchase Promasa, for my Trini Christmas pastelles? I know it is the best because I used it in Florida when I lived there. Also poncha de creama/poncha crema, is it sold already made up in a bottle like eggnog and if you know of any outlet to purchase it in London, U.K.?
    I look forward to your reply.
    Regards
    Carol Gonzalez(a Trini woman in the U.K.)

    • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

      Dear Carol, unfortunately I don’t know the answers however I have many readers in the UK. I will share your question with them tomorrow. Tune in for their replies :)

  • http://www.wasimsingh.com wasim

    Chadon beni is culantro, not cilantro. Cilantro, however, is the next best alternative. Also, Thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, podina, and pimentos are good additions to your seasoning.

    If you can’t find a West Indian store, try looking for the ingredients in a Vietnamese store. If you are close to the GTA, email me and I can hook you up with some authentic Trinidad seasoning.

  • http://www.wasimsingh.com wasim

    Chadon beni is culantro, not cilantro. Cilantro, however, is the next best alternative. Also, Thyme, scotch bonnet peppers, podina, and pimentos are good additions to your seasoning.

    If you can’t find a West Indian store, try looking for the ingredients in a Vietnamese store. If you are close to the GTA, email me and I can hook you up with some authentic Trinidad seasoning.

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Thanks for the correction wasim, I learnt the difference after this post had been published and never went back to it. I’ll make the corrections now ;) Take care!

  • http://www.TriniGourmet.com Sarina

    Thanks for the correction wasim, I learnt the difference after this post had been published and never went back to it. I’ll make the corrections now ;) Take care!

  • Zee

    I knew I would find this here! My mom and grandmother always make a huge batch of this and they keep it in the fridge. Before they cook whatever dish they plan on making, they marinate the meat in it overnight. My grandma calls the entire mixture “Shadow Benny” lol but now I know that the actual chadon beni is just one of the ingredients. If I recall correctly they also add white vinegar in addition to the vegetables. I could be wrong though. Evidently, I should have paid more attention when my mom was cooking.

    The next time I’m home, I’ll get my mom to make a batch and I’ll try to write down the exact measurements and post them here.

  • Zee

    I knew I would find this here! My mom and grandmother always make a huge batch of this and they keep it in the fridge. Before they cook whatever dish they plan on making, they marinate the meat in it overnight. My grandma calls the entire mixture “Shadow Benny” lol but now I know that the actual chadon beni is just one of the ingredients. If I recall correctly they also add white vinegar in addition to the vegetables. I could be wrong though. Evidently, I should have paid more attention when my mom was cooking.

    The next time I’m home, I’ll get my mom to make a batch and I’ll try to write down the exact measurements and post them here.

  • Lexie

    I guess because we originate from Spanish countries, we have our own spin on the famous ‘green seasoning.’ One of our main ingredients is green bell pepper. We also add pimentos as well as peppers.

    My mother prefers not to add onions because she finds the mix turns brown faster. Brown likely not being a good sign. They are plants after all. They do decay at some point. And a lot of people do find that storing onions with other vegetables or fruits makes this happen faster. So that’s probably a tip for everyone.

    As for the question regarding the color, our seasoning when fresh is a darkish forest green. Not bright, but not olive either. As it starts to age, it becomes olive and it eventually turns brown. I would likely never buy bottled seasoning, in part because most that I’ve seen are brown. The other reason is the lack of green bell pepper.

    We don’t keep seasoning beyond a week.

  • Lexie

    I guess because we originate from Spanish countries, we have our own spin on the famous ‘green seasoning.’ One of our main ingredients is green bell pepper. We also add pimentos as well as peppers.

    My mother prefers not to add onions because she finds the mix turns brown faster. Brown likely not being a good sign. They are plants after all. They do decay at some point. And a lot of people do find that storing onions with other vegetables or fruits makes this happen faster. So that’s probably a tip for everyone.

    As for the question regarding the color, our seasoning when fresh is a darkish forest green. Not bright, but not olive either. As it starts to age, it becomes olive and it eventually turns brown. I would likely never buy bottled seasoning, in part because most that I’ve seen are brown. The other reason is the lack of green bell pepper.

    We don’t keep seasoning beyond a week.

  • Al M

    It is too brown. Whatever preservative is being used is not preserving the color.

  • Al M

    It is too brown. Whatever preservative is being used is not preserving the color.

  • monalisa

    can green seasoning be frozen? just a thought
    great blog which i saw it sooner been trying different oxtail methods and needed green seasoning I have been looking for "seasoning or vegetable seasoning" recipes and coming up with jerk results love this blog

  • monalisa

    can green seasoning be frozen? just a thought
    great blog which i saw it sooner been trying different oxtail methods and needed green seasoning I have been looking for "seasoning or vegetable seasoning" recipes and coming up with jerk results love this blog

  • Myrts

    Hey everyone I have a suggestion, make up a batch of green seasoning and the put single sized servings in small packets and freeze. Then put all the packets in one ziplock bag, convenient and easy and saves a LOT of time making it every-time you need it. It stays fresh and green and never gets that faded color and flavor as in the jars.

  • Myrts

    Hey everyone I have a suggestion, make up a batch of green seasoning and the put single sized servings in small packets and freeze. Then put all the packets in one ziplock bag, convenient and easy and saves a LOT of time making it every-time you need it. It stays fresh and green and never gets that faded color and flavor as in the jars.

  • http://www.abigailblake.com/sugarapple Abigail @ SugarApple

    Just found this post and I agree with some other commenters – if I don't have fresh green seasoning I use something else. The bottled stuff just doesn't have that fresh taste. Though I have been known to use cilantro instead of the shadon beni when it's not available. The recipe we use at home is here: abigailblake.com/sugarapple/?p=331
    My recent post My Brother, His Bride and a Beach