Herb of the Month: Mint

by in Healthy Recipes, Healthy Tips, May 9, 2011
Mint Julep Sorbet
Mint Julep Sorbet

In this new series, we’re exploring new ideas using our favorite herbs. Many folks buy or grow fresh herbs but aren’t sure what to do with them.  Mint pairs well with spring veggies and sprouts up all over in the spring, so we picked this versatile herb for our first month.

Mint Basics
There are over 30 species of mint, with the most popular being spearmint and peppermint. The leaves of spearmint are a gray-green or bright green and are mild in flavor and smell. Peppermint has bright green leaves with purplish stems and has a more pungent smell and peppery flavor.

Mint is grown in China, the Mediterranean, the Philippines, India, the U.S. and Egypt. Peak season in during late spring and summer months.

Nutrition Info
One-quarter cup of fresh peppermint contains 4.5 calories and a handful of nutrients like vitamin A, folate, calcium and potassium. Mint also contains strong antioxidants known as phenols.

Studies have indicated mint is as good for you as it tastes: The strong antioxidants found in mint may help prevent cancer and the hardening of the arteries that lead to heart attacks and strokes.

What To Do With Mint
Have extra mint on hand? Add mint leaves to a freshly-made pitcher or lemonade, iced tea or to fresh fruit salad. Mint pairs well with tomatoes, like in tomato salad or tomato sauce. The herb also makes a mean tabbouleh salad (a popular Middle Eastern dish made from bulgur, chopped tomatoes, parsley and mint) and is integral to the Greek yogurt-based sauce called tzatziki. Mix up a pitcher of mojitos for your next happy hour or make your own mint spread using mint, part-skim ricotta, green peas and olive oil– delicious on toasted bread.

Shopping Tip: Choose evenly colored leaves that aren’t wilted. Store a fresh bunch in the refrigerator with the stems down in a glass of water and place a plastic bag over the leaves. Store like this for up to one week, changing the water every other day.

Recipes To Try:

TELL US: How do you use mint? What’s your favorite herb this month?

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. See Toby’s full bio »

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Comments (2,433)

  1. dandibacco says:

    Just planted our herbs for the spring and summer. Tried mint for the first time. Perfect timing for this post!

  2. There was another study just released that peppermint soothes IBS and intestinal discomfort, though obviously homeopaths have been touting it's stomach-fixing abilities for years. This time, it was science that played catch up.

    I absolutely adore mint – I've been practically living on this Beet & Fresh Mint Salad with an Orange-Balsamic Syrup. It literally would not be the same without a big helping of the green stuff!

  3. I like to add mint to sparkling water with freshly squeezed grapefruit, lime, or lemon juice for a refreshing summery drink. It's also great added to a watermelon salad!

  4. Yvonne says:

    My grandmother, mother and myself have been making an Italian Potato Salad with mint for as long as I can remember. You peel potatoes, cut into about 1 inch cubes and boil until soft. Drain and mix with olive oil, wine vinegar, salt and fresh mint leaves. Can be served warm or cold. Delicious!

  5. Diana says:

    I use fresh mint all summer, and pick just before seeds appear,to dry and save for winter use. Dry leaves in microwave on paper towels, crush when dried and keep in plastic bag in freezer. Great to add a summer lift to salads, sauce, etc. when fresh int is unavailable.

  6. Teena Jane L. Geanga says:

    Thank you for the information. My mom has palted a lot of mint and has bee thriving healthily on her garden now and we seldome make use of it.

  7. I use this fresh mint a as my fresh maker. Especially when i have a bad breath. CZ 858

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