Do you have lots of mint in your window boxes, pots or gardens? It’s originally a Mediterranean herb; in Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the underworld, fell in love with the river nymph Minthe. When Persephone, his wife, discovered the affair she turned Minthe into a plant. Hades could not rescue her, but he imbued her with a sweet smell, so that people would forever be captivated by Minthe’s fragrance.
There are hundreds of varieties to choose from. The common garden kind has a sweet and mild taste. It is hardy, growing well in cold climates, and it makes for pretty ground cover. But it spreads quickly, so if you plant it you might want to consider doing so in a container. It thrives when well watered; just be careful to water at the base of the plant to keep the leaves dry and avoid potential disease.
Mint has many health benefits. The leaves are full of antioxidants, and a surprisingly rich source of iron and potassium, as well as vitamins A, B and C. It has anti-bacterial properties, and has long been used to combat indigestion or calm an upset stomach. It’s also a natural repellant for ants, who don’t like the scent: keep potted mint indoors or infuse water with the leaves and spray near entryways.
Five ideas for making the most of mint
Here are some delicious ideas:
- Refreshing watermelon salad. Simply toss chunks of watermelon with a little fresh lime juice and ground black pepper, refrigerate, and just before serving, fold in torn mint leaves
- Hint of Mint Smoothie. This recipe from our friends at Vitamix is absolutely delicious. Make it in any blender, just blitz as long as you need to make it smooth. You can omit the grapes if you prefer it a little less sweet.
- Fresh mint tea. Roll sprigs of mint briefly between your hands to release the oils, and steep them in freshly boiled water for 3-5 minutes (use one or two sprigs per cup). Stir in a little honey, if desired.
- Minted potatoes. Mix butter, black pepper and mint and add to steaming new potatoes. Or try Delia Smith’s delicious new potato salad with mint and chives – you’ll find it in her Classic Cookery Course.
- Simply delicious chocolates. Add a few mint leaves to melted chocolate, chill in the fridge and break into little pieces for a delicious after dinner treat.
Until the next time,
Sam and Claire