When I think of mint, my mind drifts to a hot summer day and a frosty glass of herbal iced tea muddled with this refreshing and invigorating herb. But it’s not just for tea — popular parings include lamb, carrots, spring peas and beans and desserts. There are over 500 varieties of the herb — here are a few of my favorites types and recipes.
Each type of mint has a distinct personality. Here are several types to try:
Spearmint: This type of mint adds the distinct flavor to Wrigley’s Spearmint Gum. Make this herb your own by grabbing a handful of fresh leaves to flavor an iced tea, lemonade or fresh salsa.
Peppermint: One of the most pungent varietals, peppermint is the flavor you taste in many commercial toothpastes and liquors. Peppermint tastes great paired with sweets like hot chocolate, fresh fruit and marmalades or jams.
Lavender Mint: With a soft floral overtone, this variety has similar uses to peppermint and spearmint but is best used in cosmetics and cleaners as a fragrance. Want to try it? Lavender mint in tea is very soothing.
Basil Mint: Though tangy and spicy, I wouldn’t call it basil. A splash of peppermint makes this treat an excellent complement to lamb or pork
Pineapple Mint: Sprigs of this citrus flavored herb can be warmed in a pot of water for tea, leaving behind its fruity sent.
Chocolate Mint: The chocolaty flavor of this mint adds rich dimensions to any kind of desert or quick bread recipe.
Plant Your Own!
Mint grows far and wide in semi-shaded, moist areas; it’s been known to blanket any garden space. Planting it is the simple part; the challenge is keeping it tidy. To prevent it from disturbing the rest of your garden, confine it to a pot. All it takes is a 12-inch container filled with compost-rich potting soil. Sprinkle your seed, water regularly, and watch it flourish.
Too Much Mint?
Dry it! Bundle some fresh sprigs together and hang them upside-down in a paper bag in a warm, dark room. Wait for a couple of weeks until completely dry.
Here are a few of my favorite mint recipes…
Mint Ice Cubes
Fill ice cube trays with water. Submerge several mint leaves (you can use a different varieties) in each compartment. Freeze. Serve these beautiful ice cubes with water, ice tea, lemonade or your favorite cocktail.
Sparkling Mint and Lime Fruit Salad
Yield: 6 Servings
• 1 cup seedless grapes, halved
• 1 cup strawberries, halved
• 1 cup blackberries or raspberries
• 2 cups watermelon, balled or cubed
• 2 cups cantaloupe, balled or cubed
• 2 cups pineapple, balled or cubed
• 2 limes, zest of one, juice of both
• 1/4 cup champagne or tonic
• 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
• 6 mint sprigs for garnish
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with lime zest, juice, chopped mint and champagne. Serve immediately.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Total Fat: .4 grams
Saturated Fat: 0 grams
Carbohydrate: 23 grams
Protein: 1.5 grams
Sodium: 2.6 milligrams
Fiber: 2.8 grams
Yield: 8 servings
• 1 cup dried quinoa
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 lemon, juiced and zested
• 1 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
• 1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
• 2 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
• 1 Kirby cucumber, diced
• 1 large garlic clove, minced
• 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
• Salt and pepper to taste
Rinse quinoa. Combine 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then turn down and simmer. Cook covered for 10-12 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is fluffy. Cool.
In a medium bowl, whisk the olive oil with the garlic, lemon juice and zest. Add the minced parsley, mint, chives, and the cucumber and toss. Add the quinoa and tomatoes and toss together. Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Total Fat: 3.3 grams
Saturated Fat: .3 grams
Carbohydrate: 22 grams
Cholesterol: 0 milligrams
Sodium: 15 grams
Fiber: 3 grams
Co-authored by Amanda Frankeny.