Monday, June 17, 2013

Marvelous Mint and a Little Gone With The Wind

Have you ever wondered how the women of the old South survived the heat of summer dressed in all those petticoats and ruffles?

I figure it had something to do with all those mint juleps they consumed.

Being raised in a home where I never saw alcohol of any kind, I wouldn't know a mint julep if I met one face to face. However, just the mention of one conjures up visions of Scarlett O'Hara and a crowd of admirers.

.....and of course...

Now...unswoon yourselves and let's try to remember what I'm supposed to be blogging about here.

Oh, yeah....Rhett.....I mean.....MINT

My point is that mint in any form is cool and refreshing...truthfully, I just wanted an excuse to post a picture of Clark Gable.

If you've never grown mint, then you need to go right on down to the nearest Lowes, WalMart, Feed Store, Nursery, wherever you can find some and get started. You'll never regret it! If you have a friend or neighbor with some, ask them for a cutting. It's super easy to grow and spreads like crazy. Stick it in a flowerbed or a flowerpot in your kitchen.

What is mint?

History:  Peppermint and spearmint came to the New World with the colonists, who also used them medicinally. They drank mint tea for headaches, heartburn, indigestion, gas, and to help them sleep. they also drank mint tea for pure pleasure, especially since it wasn't taxed.

From Wikipedia: 
Mentha (also known as Mint, from Greek míntha), is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae (mint family).
Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial, rarely annual herbs They have wide-spreading underground and overground stolons and erect, square, branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrate margin. Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow. The flowers are white to purple and produced in false whorls called verticillasters. The corolla is two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the largest. The fruit is a small, dry capsule containing one to four seeds.
While the species that make up the Mentha genus are widely distributed and can be found in many environments, most Mentha grow best in wet environments and moist soils. Mints will grow 10–120 cm tall and can spread over an indeterminate area. Due to their tendency to spread unchecked, mints are considered invasive.

I say....bring on the invasion!

Orange Mint
(photo courtesy of Bonnie Plants)

Different Varieties of Mint 

Some sources estimate that there are over 600 varieties of mint in the world today. I confess, I had NO IDEA there were this many varieties of mint.

I've decided to list 25 for starters.

  • Chocolate Mint
  • Spearmint
  • Curly Spearmint
  • Peppermint(fyi...peppermint is a hybrid, a cross between spearmint and watermint)
  • Variegated Peppermint
  • Sweet Mint
  • Apple Mint
  • Grapefruit Mint
  • Orange Mint
  • Orange Bergamont Mint
  • Lemon Bergamont Mint
  • Pineapple Mint
  • Lime Mint
  • Kentucky Colonel Mint
  • Banana Mint
  • Moroccan Mint
  • Egyptian Mint
  • Lavender Mint
  • Macho Mint
  • Pennyroyal Mint
  • Watermint
  • Habek Mint
  • Corsican Mint
  • Ginger Mint
  • Mint Julep

Mint in the Kitchen

Don't think of mint as just a decoration or garnish. Mint can add a refreshing flavor to desserts, entrees, sides, drinks, etc. The versatility of mint allows you to work them into any facet of any meal from breakfast to your late night snack.

How to Keep Your Mint Fresh 

Submerge the base of the mint stems in a glass with 1 inch of water in the bottom. This will keep your mint leaves fresh to use in a variety of meals. Cover the entire glass with plastic wrap to prevent evaporation and refrigerate for up to one week.

From EHOW FOOD comes these suggestions:

  • Chop fresh mint leaves to add to tabbouleh, salads, vegetables, omelets or scrambled eggs just before serving.
    Pair chopped mint with cooked and chilled peas, asparagus, eggplant, corn, potatoes or baby carrots. Serve whole vegetables with mint as a salad, or puree the vegetables and mint for a refreshing spring soup.
  • Roll whole mint leaves into a lamb roast with salt and oil to create a flavor foil for the rich lamb meat. Request butterfly-cut lamb and lay out the cut on a surface. Place a mint, salt and oil mixture on top of the lamb and roll. Secure with butcher's twine and bake for a different take on lamb and mint jelly.
  • Add finely chopped or crushed mint to any chocolate dessert for a classic chocolate mint flavor. Leftover whole mint leaves can be used for garnish.

  • Need Recipes?

  • has over 210 trusted recipes for cooking with mint.

  • Over 210 Trusted Recipes for Cooking With Mint
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  • How to Grow Mint
  • Mint is a perennial herb, remaining year after year. It will go dormant when exposed to freezing temperatures, and then sprout again in the spring.
    Known for its aggressive runners, mint should be planted where it can be contained or where it can fill several square yards of space. There are many varieties—peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, chocolate mint, and orange mint are only a few. Choose one that suits your taste buds.
    Set a plant or runner, with roots attached, in full sun to light shade in rich, well-drained soil. Once established, mint should be cut frequently to encourage new growth for an ongoing supply of flavorful leaves. A bed that’s bordered by concrete, such as between your sidewalk and your foundation, is an excellent place to grow and contain mint. If the patch grows too large, use a shovel to cut the runners and pull out the ones that have become aggressive.
    Mint can also be grown in a large pot measuring at least 12 to 14 inches across. Note: If the pot is placed on soil, rather than concrete, mint will escape through the drainage hole of the pot and take root in the garden.

    Some more good information on planting and harvesting mint comes from The Old Farmer's Almanac

    Mint: Planting, Growing and Harvesting


     What's Cooking America tells us how to dry fresh mint:

  • Drying Fresh Mint

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  • (photo by Yvonne Dewey,

    Mint Jelly
    • 1 1/2 cups of fresh mint leaves and stems, washed
    • 4 to 6 drops of green food coloring
    • 2 1/4 cups water
    • 3 1/2 cups sugar
    • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice (in the bottle)
    • 3-ounce of liquid pectin
    Make sure mint is washed clean. Chop finely. Combine with water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 10 minutes. To remove the mint, strain through cheesecloth (triple layer) or jelly bag. Add food coloring.

    Combine 1 3/4 cups of mint juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a 4-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat while stirring frequently. Add liquid pectin and continue stirring until you return to a full boil. Boil 1 minute. Remove from heat and fill hot 1/2 pint jars with mixture. Do not fill to the top, leave about 1/4-inch headspace. Place hot lids on jars and screw on bands. Process in boiling water canner for 5 minutes.

    You'll need half-pint-canning jars with bands and new lids and a large cooking pot or canner. 

    Sterilize jars while working with jelly mixture.

    Makes about 4 half-pints. Note: jar in above picture is a 4 oz jar.


    Here's a great tip:

    A tiny vase of fresh mint sprigs gives a cool fragrance to a room. The secret is to crush 2 or 3 leaves and drop them inside the vase before arranging the sprigs. Also tuck sprigs of mint in your centerpiece on the dining room table.



    Twist or bruise 1 cup of peppermint, spearmint, or other mint. Place in a clean half-gallon container and fill with fresh, cool water. Chill in refrigerator. Strain and serve on ice. 

    You can even wash your face in this cool, refreshing mint water!



    Most of you know by now that I am a believer in the health benefits of a good cup of mint tea.
    Steeped Leaves (tea)
    • aids digestion and colon health
    • calms nausea and vomiting
    • generally calms stomach and intestinal upsets.
    Fresh Leaves
    • rub on forehead to relieve headache
    • rub on skin to relieve itching
    • inhale aroma to relieve nasal congestion.

    I simply cannot leave this blog without posting a mint julep recipe and since I'm not a drinker nor an advocate of alcohol, it has to be non-alcoholic recipe.  I'm not's just the way I live. If you prefer the alcoholic kind, I'm sure you'll figure out what to add.'s to Rhett and Scarlett!

    (photo by

    Non Alcoholic Mint Julep

    1/4 cup water
    1/4 cup white sugar
    1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint leaves
    2 cups crushed ice
    1/2 cup prepared lemonade
    Fresh mint sprigs for garnish

    1. In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar and 1 tablespoon of chopped mint. Stir and bring to a boil. Cook until sugar has dissolved, then remove from heat and set aside to cool. After about an hour, strain out mint leaves.

    2. Fill 2 cups or frozen goblets with crushed ice. Pour 1/2 of the lemonade into each glass and top with a splash of the sugar syrup. Garnish each with a sprig of fresh mint and a straw....and(this seems to be a very important part of this) you simply MUST serve on a silver tray, Darlin'.

    I also can't leave this blog without telling you about another great way to get some mint in your home!

    Spark Naturals Essential Oils carries a quality Peppermint and Spearmint EO.

    Peppermint EO

    Spearmint EO

    When shopping at Spark Naturals you get 10% off your order with coupon code: PATTI

    Shipping is always a flat rate of $5 and with orders totaling $55 or more after discount, shipping is FREE!

    Oh, fiddle dee dee! Go plant some mint and get started!

    Blessings from Patti's Place to your place.

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