The herb mint belongs to a large family with over 30 species, the most common being peppermint and spearmint.
Native to the Mediterranean and western Asia, mints interbreed so easily it is often hard for even the experts to distinguish and seperate all the varieties. All mints have the volatile oil menthol, which gives mint that characteristic cooling, cleansing feeling.
The Greeks believed mints could clear the voice and cure hiccups.
In fact, mint is part of Greek mythology and according to legend "Minthe" originally a nymph, and Pluto's lover angered Pluto's wife, Persephone, who in a fit of rage turned Minthe into a lowly plant, to be trod upon.
Pluto, unable to undo the spell, was able to soften it by giving Minthe a sweet scent which would perfume the air when her leaves were stepped on-the aromatic herb Mint.
Early settlers brought mint to America primarily for medicinal uses. It was also a symbol of hospitality. Southern ladies and gentleman would rock in their chairs on the veranda sipping Mint Juleps.
Planting & Growing
Mint needs human soil and only moderate sunshine. The trick is not to get them to grow, but to restrict the growth. This is one herb that spreads rather quickly by runners.
Planting next to Raspberry or Roses makes good companion planting.
Mint is especially used to treat aches and pains in the section if stomach and bowel, e.g. nausea, acute vomiting, flatulences and cramps. Additionally it supports the functioning of the gall bladder. In order to develop the active substances of mint, a tea is prepared from its leaves.
Mint is a favorite for chewing gum, toothpaste, candy and medicine.
It helps with hiccups, watery eyes, and childrens' headaches.
Mint is uses in beauty and health products, for skincare and oily hair.
You can use mint as pot plants with other balcony herbs. This is a good herb for keeping ants away from doors and combating mice and fleas. Keep mint leaves near food, beds, and wardrobes. Throw a few in the doghouse, and even rub the dog with them. (Cats will probably give you some trouble if you do it with them.)
Teas: Fresh Mint, Spearmint, Peppermint sprigs are great to put in your tea pot with your favorite tea. It is believed they reduce the adverse effects of tannin and caffeine. Pick the top of the mint plant off, wash it and add to your teapot. Steep 2-3 minutes. Longer for a more potent flavor.
Jellos: Add your favorite mint to the jello once you've poured the hot mixture into its containers for refrigerating. (Use two mint heads per quart of liquid). Let it sit for 5 minutes before refrigerating and then take out the mint leaves. This makes very refreshing desserts. Chocolate mint is best in chocolate mousse or any chocolate dessert.
Eggs: Add chopped mint leaves to scrambled eggs, omelettes, souffles, or quiches for a peppy flavor, or to your eggs or egg substitutes. Add the mint at the end of cooking of scrambled eggs or omelettes.
Salads: Fresh leaves are good with salads. Pineapple mint particularly is great in a mixed green salad. Mixed with bulgar, red onions, tomatoes, parsley, and a lemony vinaigrette, it becomes Tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern salad perfect for summertime picnics.
Steamed Vegetables: Mint is commonly used with peas. Carrots, potatoes, eggplant, white or black beans, and corn all pep up with the addition of freshly chopped spearmint. Add the herb at the end of the cooking process.
The mint varieties you'll want to grow in your garden are:
Chocolate mint for desserts
Spearmint for drinks
Peppermint for drinks and desserts
Garden mint for general cooking
Pineaple mint for salads and cooking
Other recipes from Produce Pete.