Mint is grown for its aromatic and flavorful leaves. Oval and serrated, the leaves of mint are indented with veins and come to a point. They impart a fresh clean scent and a strong mint flavor with sweet overtones. Leaves are commonly bright to dark green in color but some varieties can be purple, gray-green or even pale yellow. If allowed to flower mint will produce white and lavender to purple petite blooms. Young leaves will have the best flavor and texture, leaves allowed to mature on the plant for too long will become bitter and woodsy in flavor. The cool taste and sensation mint imparts is a result of the naturally occurring compound, menthol contained in the herb.
Mint is available year-round.
Mint, of the genus mentha is a perennial herb and a member of the Lamiaceae or mint family along with other oil bearing herbs such as basil, rosemary, lavender and thyme. Today mint is commonly used for its oil which is utilized in production of foods, toothpaste, soaps, candy, gums, cleaning products and cough drops as well as in therapeutic creams, oils and ointments.
Mint is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C as well as in the trace mineral manganese. In addition to being a popular culinary herb mint is prized for the medicinal and therapeutic properties of its aromatic oil. Gum and after dinner mints have not only been popularized for their ability to freshen ones breath post meal but additionally due to mints ability to help combat nausea, cramping and indigestion. Inhalation of steam scented with mint oil is said to help with respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis and also in aromatherapy to help ease mental sluggishness and agitation.
Mint is used fresh and dried for both sweet and savory dishes. Infuse syrups or blend into cocktails, yogurt, whipped creams and sorbet. Use as an aromatic garnish on food and beverages. Add to fresh fruit, green or grain salads. It is a popular herb for use in Turkish, Indian, Vietnamese, Greek and Persian cuisines. Its flavor pairs well with citrus, berries, seafood, lamb, melons, peas, beans, summer squash, chocolate and aged sheep's milk cheeses. Mint is delicate and bruises easily; keep cool and dry in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Native to the Mediterranean region mint has long been a popular herb for use as a food and medicine internally and for its aromatic properties externally as well. Mint was used in ancient times to clean and scent tables and floors. It was stuffed into pillows and mattresses and used as a strewing herb in rooms to create a pleasant smell and help deter pests, rats and bed bugs. It was also combined with other herbs and used in tombs as an aromatic. Mint made its way to America via early European settlers who used it medicinally, as an herb to make tea with and as an aromatic for the body and home. Extremely easy to grow mint prefers moderate climates, sunshine and moist well drained soil. Mint is highly invasive, its roots send out runners that spread quickly and can easily take over an entire garden if not contained. For best results plant mint in individual pots or in a buried container when planting in garden beds.