Some of our CSA co-growers received these little gems in their basket this week. They are crunchy and sweet, perfect for a salad. Also wonderful in an Asian stir fry!
There are a variety of popular herbal mints and Chocolate mint is a decadent one. Chocolate mint has shiny dark green leaves with brown veins. These leaves are smaller than other varieties of mint, and when you rub the leaves between your fingers, you get the heavenly scent of chocolate mint. This variety grows 12-18 inches tall and has violet or lavender flowers throughout the growing season. To keep the leaves from getting bitter, cut off the flowers before they bloom. If you want to attract bees and butterflies, let the flowers bloom. Chocolate mint has a peppermint patty flavor that is a nice addition to desserts, beverages, syrups and more. It may be used fresh or dried.
Hang mint in small bunches in a dark, airy place until crispy dry. Or you may dry your mint in a food dehydrator or microwave if you need to quickly dry it.
To freeze mint, dip it in boiling water for a few seconds and then plunge it into cold water. Shake off excess water and pack lightly in containers and freeze. Use mint immediately after thawing at room temperature.
Culinary Uses for Mint
The culinary uses for mint include refreshing hot or cold teas, mint sauces, mint vinegar, simple syrup, jelly and mint juleps. Add fresh mint leaves to new potatoes, peas, fruit salads, drinks and punches, summer cold soups, fish, yogurt dressing, mix with chocolate, bake in cookies, breads and cakes. A delicious Near East salad combines spearmint, lettuce, chicory and a sesame seed dressing.
Add minty flavor to steamed vegetables by adding mint leaves to the water. Freeze mint leaves in ice cubes and use to flavor tea or lemonade. Adding it to sweet juices is amazing…
Cantaloupe and choc mint = the taste of a peppermint patty. Watermelon and choc mint = amazing yummy goodness!!!
Try it with everything sweet… it enhances the flavours so beautifully.
Medicinal uses for Mint
Mint has been used for its medicinal properties for well over 3,000 years! Greek and Roman herbalists prescribed mint for everything from hiccups to leprosy. The English herbalist Nicholas Culpepper listed over 40 medical uses and wrote “Mint is very profitable for the stomach!”
The Pilgrims brought numerous herb and garden vegetable seeds to America, and among them were mint seeds and dried leaves. During their voyage to America, the Pilgrims often mixed mint with other herbs to calm seasickness.
During the Middle Ages, people used mint to ward off disease and carried mint leaves in their purses to attract wealth and love. They also thought burning dried mint leaves helped induce a peaceful sleep. Dried leaves were also used for strewing throughout the house to reduce odors and insects.
During World War I when traditional drugs were in short supply, a resurgence of herbal healing began and mint or garlic was often part of first aid kits. Today, herbal remedies continue to make a revival as many patients look to alternative medicines. Always talk to your doctor before trying herbal alternatives.
Peppermint tea helps digestion and is a common home remedy for cold and flu symptoms because drinking frequent cups will promote perspiration and reduce fever. For relief of abdominal pains and gas, drink a peppermint-milk infusion.
In Mexico and the Southwest, spearmint tea is preferred as a general remedy for diarrhea, neuralgia, gargled as a mouthwash and used as an antiseptic on wounds and sores. Macerate spearmint and peppermint leaves in a carrier oil and massage area for migraine, facial neuralgia or rheumatic and muscular aches. When added to lotions, peppermint may help reduce pain and sensitivity.
Have fun with your Chocolate Mint!