Hi herb lovers,
Its me, Rona again and this week I’m going to talk about that all over favourite herb Mint Latin name Mentha
There are mints to suit all tastes, including peppermint, apple, pineapple, ginger and the one mostly used for culinary purposes spearmint, also known as garden mint or common mint. Minta spicata.
Mint is a native of Europe but has been cultivated for its medicinal properties since ancient times.
The Greeks used it for perfume and in roman times when the law imposed the death penalty on woman, who drank the alcohol that was meant for the gods and men, the guilty party would make and chew a paste made from mint and honey to cover up their crime.
Mint is an aromatic mostly hardy perennial herb with square stems that grows between 30 to 90 cms (1 to 3 ft). It has pointed serrated leaves and mauve flowers in summer.
It likes well-drained fertile soil in a slightly damp, semi-shaded area. It is very invasive and is best grown in a pot sunk into the ground and this will help stop the roots from spreading.
It does very well in containers.
Pick the leaves when needed though-out the growing season. If you want to dry or freeze them make sure you pick the leaves before the plant flowers.
You can grow mint from seeds but it is better to propagate from cuttings of roots.
In spring, simply dig up a piece of root. Cut it where you see a growing node. Place the cuttings in a pot with potting compost. Water and leave. You should see new shoots growing in about two weeks.
You can also dig up the plant, divide and replant.
Peppermint has the most medicinal properties. It is calming, antiseptic, anti bacterial and a stimulant. A mint infusion will relieve congestion in the head and chest. It increases concentration and used as a tea can help with an upset stomach. It is also used in massage to relieve muscular aches.
1 10 tablespoons of chopped garden mint.
2 500ml white wine or cider vinegar.
1 Pound the leaves in a mortar to release the flavour.
2 Heat half the vinegar until warm but not boiling and pour over the herbs in the mortar, gently pound the leaves again and leave to cool.
3. Mix with the remaining vinegar and pour into a wide necked bottle and seal tightly using an acid proof lid. (If you don’t have this, line the existing lid with greaseproof paper, as this will work just as well.
4. Put the bottle on a sunny windowsill, shake every 2 weeks and test for flavour.
5. If it is not strong enough strain the vinegar and repeat the method with fresh herbs.
6 Store as it is or strain through muslin, rebottle and add a fresh sprig of mint.
You can also use basil, thyme, marjoram, fennel, lemon balm and garlic instead of mint.
Ok folks, that’s all for now. Next time I will be talking about thyme and with that I leave you with this quote
There are no worthless herbs, only lack of knowledge.