Season for Mint Available Year Round

Mint Described

Not just a bubble gum flavor, mint enjoys a long history as a symbol of hospitality: Greeks used to rub mint on dinner tables before guests arrived and mint tea is still offered to guests as they are welcomed into homes in the Middle East. There are over 30 species of mint, although the two most popular are peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint is the more pungent of the two, with brightly-colored green leaves, purple-ish stems and a strong, peppery flavor. Spearmint is all-around less boisterous; it’s color, flavor and fragrance subtle and cool. Other plants in the Mentha genus include apple mint, orange mint, water mint, curly mint and Corsican mint.

How to Buy and Store Mint

When selecting mint, we say opt for the fresh stuff over the dried form whenever you can, for it’s far superior in flavor. Whatever variety you choose, the leaves of fresh mint should look vibrant and rich in color and be free from dark spots or yellowing. Also, avoid any mint with signs of wilting.  You can store a bunch of mint with the stems down in a glass of water with a plastic bag over the leaves, where they will stay fresh for up to a week (change the water every 2 days). Dried mint should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place, where it will keep fresh for up to a year. 

How to Cook Mint

The leaf is the culinary source of mint, with a warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor and a cool aftertaste. So, if you have a bunch of fresh mint, strip the leaves to be used in your recipe. You can add the leaves to both sweet and savory dishes. Mint is commonly used in Middle Eastern cultures to complement lamb. It makes a beautiful garnish to vegetable soups or gazpacho. You can use mint for teas, jellies, syrups, candies and ice creams. The famous mint julep and the mojito also capitalize on the wonders of mint. Try chopped fresh mint sprinkled over strawberries or other fruits with some slivered almonds for a delightfully healthy dessert. 

Health Benefits of Mint

Mint has long-lived medicinal usage. It’s been shown to improve digestion and soothe cramping with its antispasmodic properties, also potentially helpful for tension headaches and the calming of tired nerves. The presence of menthol helps to treat sore throats and colds, being an effective expectorant that removes mucus and phlegm from the respiratory tract. Mint is also widely-regarded in oral care, where the presence of tannins help keep odor-causing bacteria out of the oral cavity, preventing the formation of cavities. Mint also contains antioxidants that help fight the signs of aging, whether it be staving off diseases such as cancer or keeping your skin looking youthful.  

Why Buy Natural and Organic Mint

If you are purchasing your mint in its dried form, select organically grown mint to ensure the herb has not undergone the process of irradiation, which can have many harmful health benefits not the least of which is killing all its nutrients. Better still, purchase organic fresh mint. The farmers market and specialty stores are likely to provide you with a greater variety of which to exercise your culinary prowess. Choosing organic not only ensures that pesticide residues aren’t clinging to your mint leaves, but sends the message you are one consumer who supports sustainable practices.

image: SummerTomato