2.9 the mints.

Photo: Mentha x piperita 12. Latin names: The mints: Mentha sp.
Peppermint: Mentha x piperita (Mentha aquatica x M.spicata)
Spearmint: Mentha x spicata (Mentha longifolia x M.suaveolens)
Apple mint: Mentha suaveolens
Pennyroyal: Mentha pulegium
These might not be up to date as botanists make a hobby out of changing Latin names for Mentha species.

2.9.1 Growing mint

From: skifast123.aol.com (SkiFast123)
When you move spearmint, trust me and only transplant it into a container of some sort. You can bury the container if you want. Good containers to use are those big multi-gallon types that roses come in. Bury it right up to the rim. Otherwise, in a few years, you will have only one herb in your garden and that is mint because it is VERY invasive.

From: Gary & Jeanne Ross <ross.together.net>
Spearmint will keep spreading unless you start pulling some of it out by the roots. We however have let it and several other mints spread thruout the lawn. It smells so great when you walk across it.

2.9.2 Harvesting mints

From: Henriette <hetta.saunalahti.fi>
Usually, with perennials, it's "cut at most one fifth at most three times a year". Mints are vigorous. You can cut at most one third at least five times a year, if they're growing nicely. Discard brown leaves, cut off brown stem parts, bundle and hang up to dry. Snip into bits when dry, the stems are just as valuable as the leaf. If you want to you can make thicker stems into baths or foot baths.

2.9.3 Using / preserving mints

Also see 4.6.2, Flower / herb syrup.
Also see tabouleh: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1996/parsley-1.html
Also see tabouleh, syrup, senkanjabin: http://www.henriettes-herb.com/archives/best/1996/mint-recipes.html

>I've got way too much peppermint / mint / spearmint ...:

  • From: hattie.netcom.com (Susan Hattie Steinsapir)
    Make a simple sugar syrup and add a whole lot of fresh mint to it. Use this when making granita or to sweeten sun tea. Lemonade made with the mint syrup would be nice, too.
  • I like to make iced tea heavily minted. Steep a whole lot of mint with the tea bags. Or better yet, boil them with the tea water, then add the tea and steep. Discard the leaves.
  • Make cold Asian type noodle salads with finely chopped mint added. I use mint to line a bowl in which I'm serving fresh whole strawberries. Don't see why you couldn't use them to line a bowl in which a fruit salad will be served. Melon salad would be nice.
  • Some middle eastern dishes call for lamb and mint. Ground lamb and finely chopped fresh mint (and a few other goodies) would make interesting meat balls.
  • Use it in flower arrangements. I've put rosemary branches and mint leaves together when I wanted something but hadn't picked up any fresh flowers.
  • Give it away to your friends!

From: lebasil.ag.arizona.edu (Leslie Basel)
You also might want to preserve it in vodka or aquavit...

From: asnell.interaccess.com (Amy Snell)
Boil a handful of peppermint leaves in a pot of water, strain it, add sugar and serve over ice ... wonderful peppermint drink -- tastes a lot like candy canes, but very summery. Also good hot. Leftovers can be frozen in an ice cube tray and popped into iced tea to make it minty.

From: thavey.boi.hp.com (Tom Havey):

  • Pesto.....a bunch of peppermint leaves, some peppermint or walnut oil, a bit of sugar, all whipped up in a food processor.
  • Dried, put in decorative jars for gifts, or mixed in some homemade potpourri stuff.
  • Tea.
  • Raviolis stuffed with peppermint, pepper and raisins and a bit of goat cheese (or cottage cheese) topped with a light and spicy curry sauce.

From: libby.igc.apc.org (Libby Goldstein)
Just add it to water or seltzer, crush it a bit and serve over ice. It's lovely.

From: jrogow.ridgecrest.ca.us (Judith Rogow)
Mint planted at the kitchen door keeps ants away.

From: MORAVCSIK.clipr.Colorado.EDU (Julia Moravcsik)

  • You can make tabouleh with the mint.
  • You can boil water with sugar and dip the leaves in for crystallized mint leaves.
  • You can freeze them for later use.
  • You can make a sort of pesto by putting them in a blender with some oil and then freezing the pesto for later use.
  • You can put it in fruit salad, chopped fine.
  • You can chomp on a leaf before you drink water to make the water taste better.

From: sgoddik.sunflowr.usd.edu (Steen Goddik)
One of our friends describes chocolate-mint leaves (a variety of mint that has a taste of chocolate to it) as a great "social lubricant" for her 5-year old son. All the neighbor kids love it, and it has made him rather popular.

From: snielsen.orednet.org (Susan L. Nielsen)
Tea from spearmint is a pretty usual solution; I find it perkier than peppermint. It also makes a terrific addition to iced tea made from regular black tea. We make what is conventionally called sun tea by the gallons all year 'round, though without the sun. Seven tea bags (good ol' Lipton's or Red Rose) steeped all day in a gallon jug of water will make good tea for icing with or without Sol. Use the spearmint fresh, or dry it, or freeze it in baggies. I also add it to raspberry leaf tea (calcium boost) because the raspberry has very little flavor of its own. Straight mint tea is good for bad tummies.

From: Don Wiss (no email address given)
Looking it up in my Wise Encyclopedia of Cookery I find: candied mint leaves, mint butter, mint ice, mint jelly, mint julep, mint mousse, mint sauce, mint syrup, mint wafers, and sprigs in the ice tea.

From jmanton.standard.com (Jeanne Manton):
Mint allegedly has a root system extending 18 - 22 inches beneath the plant. I had mint planters built 18 inches x 18 inches x 26 inches deep. The mint hadn't read the same book because you always can tell where I have been living - yep, mint sprouts! This year the apple mint drowned and froze so I replaced it with pineapple mint - very pretty varigated leaves I use with cut flowers. When I made my mint jelly for the year I used the pineapple mint with crushed pineapple. This was supposed to be Christmas presents but ........ oh, well, I will have another crop shortly.

From: awoods.magnus.acs.ohio-state.edu (Alan Woods)
This is from Erica Klein's _Skinny Spices_:

Moroccan Mint Blend

2 T dried mint leaves
2 T garlic granules or powder
2 T toasted sesame seeds
½ T lemon peel
½ T onion flakes

She uses this as a rub, as flavor for a yoghurt-based soup, and as the main ingredient in marinade.

Spicy Mint tea

From: DonW1948.aol.com
6 c Water
2 Cinnamon sticks
4 Clove, whole
4 Allspice, whole
2 c Mint leaves

Bring the water, cinnamon, cloves and allspice to a boil. Boil for 1 minute. Stir in mint leaves. Remove from heat and steep for five minutes. Strain into cups.
From Taste of Home Magazine.

Orange Mint Vinegar

From: DonW1948.aol.com
1 sm Orange; peel; thin spiral - colored portion only
½ c Mint leaves; fresh
Vinegar, white

Remove peel (colored portion only) from 1 small orange in a thin spiral, and place in a sterilized pint jar. Lightly bruise ½ cup fresh mint leaves, add to jar. Heat apple cider or distilled white vinegar to just below the boiling point. Fill jar with vinegar, and cap tightly. Allow to stand 3 to 4 weeks. Strain vinegar, discarding peel and mint. Pour vinegar into a clean sterilized jar, adding a new sprig of fresh mint, if desired. Seal tightly. Use in dressing for tossed green salads with orange and grapefruit sections, or in marinades for chicken or lamb chops.

Mint jelly, apple based

From sherae.zeta.org.au (Sheri McRae):
4 lb. tart apples
3 cups strong mint water
2 cups white vinegar

To make the mint water, soak a large quantity of mint (about a pound) in 3 cups boiling water overnight. Next day, chop apples and place in a pan, and barely cover with water. Cover and simmer about an hour until apples are soft. Strain. Combine apple juice, mint water, and vinegar and strain again. Measure and place in a pan, adding cup for cup of sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Bring to boiling and cook rapidly until the jelly will set. Bottle and seal. Mint Jelly is good with meats, especially lamb and is also good on toast, etc.

I haven't tried this recipe but it came from a reliable preserving book which I have used and like.

Mint jelly

From mcat.epix.net (Molly)

I've made mint jelly from my prolific mint patch. I didn't use any apple juice base, just boiled the crushed leaves in water, strained, added sugar and pectin. I think the recipe came in the pectin box, they've got an 800 number there also for other recipes. There's also a recipe in my WD Encyclopedia of Cookery:

1 ½ cups firmly packed fresh mint leaves and stems
2 ¼ cups water
2 Tbs strained fresh lemon juice
Green food coloring
3 ½ cups sugar
½ bottle liquid pectin (nowadays that means one pouch Certo)

Wash mint, put in large saucepan, crush with masher or drinking glass. Add water and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 10 min. Strain, measure 1 ⅔ cups into large saucepan. Add lemon juice and a few grops of food coloring. Stir in sugar, bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in pectin, bring to a full rolling boil, boil for 1 min. Remove from heat, skim, pour into hot jars, and seal.

If you're looking for other ways to use mint leaves, you can candy them and use them for garnishes on cakes. Dry them and add an interesting taste while cooking lamb or pork. Mint and Elderberry flower is supposed to be a great combination for fighting colds and flu. Mint is very calming to an upset stomach, as well as freshening the breath.

Try mint jelly once, at least, to see for yourself if it's worth it. Good luck.

2.9.4 Which mint do you have?

Also see the Monarda / Beebalm entry, as this plant is often used like the mints: 2.24

From: conrad.richters.com (Conrad Richter)

Mints - Mentha spp.
Seeds -- Do not buy

The best mints cannot be grown from seeds. They are propagated asexually either by cuttings or division. Often seeds are offered in catalogues or in seed racks, but the plants that grow from these will be inferior rogues not worth the bother. The flavour and odour may have some degree of menthol, but the mix of oils is almost always a disappointment to anyone who has enjoyed the fresh, clean scents and flavours from a good spearmint or a good peppermint.

Peppermint (Mentha x piperita) is a natural hybrid, probably between watermint (M. aquatica) and spearmint (M. spicata). Its flowers are sterile and so are incapable of producing true peppermint seeds. What is usually sold as "peppermint" seeds is actually a type of spearmint. The highest and best use of this rogue mint is for medicinal tea, but it is not nearly as nice as true peppermint.

Even though spearmint flowers are fertile and are capable of producing seeds, seeds produce disappointing results. In most cases seeds bought as "spearmint" will turn out to be the same menthol-smelling variety sold as "peppermint."

Why does the seed industry continue to sell mint seeds? For years the seed industry has had little interest and expertise in herbs. Herbs tended to be sidelines that produced profits and as long as people continued to buy, the industry did not care. This is true of oregano and remains true of other herbs as well.

There are some mints, however, that can be grown true from seeds. Watermint (M. aquatica), applemint (M. suaveolens), corn mint (M. arvensis) and pennyroyal mint (M. pulegium) all grow from seeds.

But for the beginning herb gardener who just wants one mint for tea and perhaps one for lamb chops, it is better to get plants. There are many good quality spearmint strains and hybrids including English mint, improved spearmint, curled spearmint and the plain Jane, regular spearmint. Among the peppermints, the most commonly available variety is black peppermint (M. x piperita vulgaris), but there are others, like the new "chocolate mint" which, incidentally, some swear really has a "hint" of chocolate it its aroma profile.

When buying plants beware of the impostor mints grown from seeds. Just because mint plants are offered for sale in a reputable garden centre does not mean that the cultivar offered is a good one. Many large growers are growing mints from the same rogue seed varieties sold by the seed industry. Always let your nose be the judge; and don't be afraid to squeeze a leaf to allow the scent to escape into the air.