Mint is a fragrant herb that comes in many varieties, including peppermint and spearmint. It has a distinct cool and refreshing taste and aroma. Mint grows easily in home gardens and can also be found fresh at farmers’ markets and grocery stores. It is frequently used to add flavor to both sweet and savory dishes.
Mint originated in Asia and the Mediterranean region. Today, it is grown all around the world. The mint plant has square stems and opposite pairs of leaves. The leaves are toothed and have an invigorating menthol flavor.
How to Prepare Mint
When preparing mint, first look for leaves that are vibrant green in color. Avoid any that are wilted or brown. Rinse the mint leaves thoroughly to remove any grit. The leaves can then be used whole or chopped. Chopped mint gives dishes a more even distribution of flavor.
To store mint, wrap the rinsed leaves in a damp paper towel and place them inside a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Stored this way, mint will stay fresh for up to a week. For longer storage, mint can be frozen or dried. Dried mint will retain its flavor for months when kept in an airtight container.
How to Cook With Mint
The cooling flavor of mint brightens up both sweet and savory recipes.
Here are some ways to use it:
- Add to fruit salads, lemonade, and iced tea. Mint pairs well with fruits like watermelon, berries, peaches, and pineapple.
- Use in Middle Eastern dishes like tabbouleh, pitas, hummus, and lamb.
- Add to yogurt along with cucumber for a refreshing raita side dish.
- Toss into grain salads and pilafs. Mint brings a fresh taste to wheat berries, quinoa, and couscous.
- Mix into pesto, chutneys, and marinades.
- Add to desserts like ice cream, frozen yogurt, chocolate mousse, and fruit pies.
- Use as a garnish for cocktails like the mint julep and mojito.
Health Benefits of Mint
Mint provides a variety of benefits:
- It aids digestion and helps relieve nausea and stomach aches due to its muscle-relaxing properties.
- The menthol in mint helps clear sinus congestion.
- Mint tea can soothe sore throats.
- Mint may help prevent the growth of bacteria in food.
- Applying mint essential oil topically can provide a cooling sensation for skin irritation.
- Mint adds antioxidants and phytochemicals to the diet.
To best maintain mint’s flavor and texture:
- Store fresh mint in the refrigerator in a plastic bag with a damp paper towel for up to one week.
- Keep dried mint in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for several months.
- Freeze mint leaves by laying them flat in a single layer on a baking sheet and placing in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight container or freezer bag.
- Freeze mint puree by blending leaves with a bit of water or oil and freezing in ice cube trays for easy use in recipes.
With its invigorating flavor and aroma, mint is a versatile herb that can enhance both sweet and savory dishes. Follow these tips for selecting, preparing and storing mint to enjoy its benefits and unique taste.
Mint is an aromatic herb that comes in many varieties and provides a refreshing menthol flavor. It can be used in sweet and savory recipes to add a cooling accent. Mint has digestion-aiding properties and contains antioxidants. To store mint properly, refrigerate fresh leaves and freeze or dry them for extended use. With its bright taste, mint is a culinary herb worth getting to know.