When I was a young girl, my grandmother grew mint in our
backyard garden. It would grow tall and multiply all summer long and whenever
we’d have iced tea (Liptons, for the record, from a big canister), I would run
out back and pick a sprig or two to float in the tea.
But mint, an herb that grows wild in many places, is more than just a pretty addition to cool summer drinks. It’s also a vivacious herb that can be used in both sweet and savory dishes.
The two most prevalent forms of mint are peppermint and
spearmint. Peppermint, which its purple-ish stems, is pungent and almost
peppery in flavor (hence the name). On the other hand, spearmint is milder with
vibrant green leaves.
Mint can be purchased in fresh, dried and liquid extract form. The extract is excellent for using in sweets like cakes and cookies, however it should always be used sparingly, since a little goes a long way.
If you choose to grow mint, you should know that it’s considered an invasive plant. It spreads wildly and rapidly. Plant it in a spot where you don’t mind this growth, or plant it in an area that is finite, such as a raised garden bed.
Uses for mint:
Mint is often used in Middle Eastern cuisine, and pairs well
with lamb. It’s also used to make mint jelly, often served with lamb.
One famous use for mint is the infamous Mint Julep cocktail, which uses fresh mint leaves with bourbon and simple syrup to make a refreshing springtime and summertime drink. For a non-alcoholic option, try Refreshing Mint Iced Tea, a homemade version of the tea that I grew up on.
Want a savory option? Try Garlic and Mint Chicken Breasts, which use mint in the marinade for the chicken. Another option is Raita , a yogurt-mint dipping sauce that’s perfect for wedge fries.