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What Is Mint?
Mint is a popular, aromatic herb in the Mentha family of plants. With hundreds of varieties grown around the world, this fast-growing crop is used for culinary purposes and in health and beauty products, gum, and candies. This tender herb is best added at the end of cooking, as excessive heat will deplete the mint flavor contained in the leaves.
What Does Mint Taste Like?
The primary flavor profile of mint is a subtly sweet taste and cool sensation that comes from the menthol contained in the herb. This chemical sends a message to the brain that it's consuming something cold, triggering a chilly sensation that gives the effect that the herb is cooling the mouth. Because of this unique flavor, mint is commonly added as a garnish to spicy Southeast Asian dishes.
How to Buy and Store Mint
When purchasing mint, look for bright green leaves free of brown spots or blemishes, which should be stored in a plastic bag between paper towels in the refrigerator for maximum freshness. The lifespan of fresh mint can be extended by adding the chopped herb to ice cube trays with water to create mint ice cubes. These cubes can be added to dishes during the cooking process or popped into cold beverages like iced tea.
It is also easy to grow a mint plant at home, which provides easy culinary access and can help to repel flies, ants, and other critters. Learn how to grow indoor herbs with our complete home growing guide here.
8 Common Mint Varieties
While there are hundreds of varieties of mint grown around the world, some of the most common types include:
- Peppermint: A common, menthol-heavy form of mint with a bold fragrance, used for a wide range of culinary, medicinal, and product uses.
- Spearmint: A popular aromatic form of mint used for cosmetic, medicinal, and culinary purposes. Similar in appearance to peppermint, with bright green, pointed leaves.
- Pineapple mint: A versatile, mild form of mint commonly used in potpourri, as a garnish, or in minty beverages.
- Chocolate mint: A common form of mint that is used in the preparation of desserts and drinks.
- Corn mint (aka field or wild mint): Native to the United States, this naturally growing wild mint has an extremely strong aroma.
- Apple mint (aka woolly mint): A fast-growing aromatic mint that is used for decorative and medicinal uses.
- Ginger mint: With an aroma similar to spearmint, this yellow-striped mint can be used for culinary uses or other common applications.
- Orange mint: A hybrid mint notable for its strong citrus aroma and flavor.
5 Mint Dessert Recipes
- Lemon-Mint Sorbet: A light, refreshing sorbet made with mint, sugar, water, lemon zest, and lemon juice.
- Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream: Milk, cream, peppermint, sugar, finely chopped semisweet chocolate, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt mixed and frozen with an ice cream maker.
- Dark Chocolate-Mint Cookies: Dark chocolate cookies flavored with a hint of peppermint essence.
- Peppermint Bark: Layers of peppermint-scented dark and white chocolate covered in crushed candy canes.
- Fruit Salad with Mint: A summer salad made with fresh berries, pineapple, strawberry, honey, lime juice, and chopped mint.
5 Mint Beverage Recipes
- Mint Mojito: A classic cocktail made with muddled mint, sugar, rum, soda water, lime juice, and fresh lime.
- Mint Julep: A bourbon cocktail made with simple syrup, water, crushed ice, and fresh mint. Commonly served at the Kentucky Derby.
- Watermelon and Mint Agua Fresca: A light and sweet nonalcoholic beverage made with mint leaves, agave syrup, chopped watermelon, and lime juice.
- Mint and Ginger Lemonade: Take lemonade up a notch with mint and ginger-spiked simple syrup.
- Moroccan Mint Tea: One of the culinary mainstays of Morocco, made with hot water, fresh mint leaves, and sugar.
10 Savory Mint Recipes
- Pho with Mint: A traditional Vietnamese soup made with delicate broth and rice noodles, topped with fresh mint, chili, jalapeno, lime, and bean sprouts.
- Thai Chicken Stir-fry With Mint: A classic Thai dish made with sliced chicken, garlic, onion, thai chili, and a stir-fry sauce, topped with fresh mint and chopped green onion.
- Grilled Pork Chops With Mint: Lamb chops marinated in olive oil, fresh mint, salt, and pepper, grilled over a flame. Served on a bed of greek yogurt with red onion.
- Mint Pesto: A Mediterranean take on Italian pesto with walnuts, fresh mint, lemon juice, olive oil, feta, salt, and black pepper.
- Mint Salad With Snap Peas: A fresh, herbaceous salad made with mint leaves, sugar snap peas, radishes, and a light vinaigrette made with olive oil, lemon juice, and red wine vinegar.
- Quinoa Salad With Mint: Cooked quinoa tossed with fresh chopped mint, goat cheese, sweet peas, sea salt, and a light Mediterranean dressing. A great side dish for lamb and other Middle Eastern mains.
- Pasta With Mint and Parmesan: Fresh homemade pasta tossed in a simple butter sauce and garnished with Parmesan and chopped mint.
- Cilantro Mint Chutney - A classic Indian sauce made with fresh mint and cilantro, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, ginger, pepper. Served with samosas, dosas, and other Indian dishes.
- Roast Lamb With Mint Jelly: A traditional British dish served during Christmas and Easter celebrations, topped with a sweet mint jelly. Or try Chef Gordon Ramsay's basil-crusted rack of lamb with glazed thumbelina carrots, new potatoes, and mint yogurt sauce.
- Cauliflower Steak With Olive Pistou and Porcini Mushrooms: Top charred cauliflower steaks with a sautéed mixture of olives, porcini mushrooms, garlic, shallot, capers, lemon, parsley, and mint.
What Are the Health Benefits of Mint?
In addition to its culinary uses, mint has also been used in beauty and health products throughout history. This naturally antibacterial herb is one of the most antioxidant-rich plants. Some believe mint can be consumed to help treat upset stomach and indigestion and reduce flatulence. Mint's high menthol content lends it well to making teas to help relieve sore throat and as a decongestant.
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