Mint is a well-known group of fragrant herbs. The mint family includes varieties such as peppermint, spearmint, apple mint and chocolate mint.
Each mint has a distinctive fragrance and flavour.
How to grow Mint:
Soil: best grown in rich, moist soil.
Position: Mint grows better with some shade. It can be better to grow mint in a pot as it can run amok in the garden creating a mat of roots. Less invasive mints such as chocolate mint can be grown in the garden without any problem.
Height: 30cm. Pinching out the top of each branch allows it to grow more new leaves and form a compact shape. Cut to the ground each winter to encourage fresh new growth in spring.
Plant: from Spring to Autumn. Mint can be grown easily from any fresh sprig of mint with even a small root on the stem. Placing mint in a glass on the windowsill will often result in root growth.
Pests and Disease: Mint is very hardy and healthy when grown in rich soil and semi-shade.
Pick: new growth from spring to autumn for use in cooking. Mint will turn black when it's cut, so don't cut it until you are ready to add it to your cooking.
Mint dislikes the company of parsley. If planted near cabbages, it may keep the white butterflies away. Fresh or dried mint in the pantry is reputed to deter ants and moths.
A herbal tea made of peppermint can provide relief from nasal congestion.
Regularly consuming mint is soothing to your digestive system. Peppermint tea is often used to combat symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome however it can make reflux worse.
In the Kitchen:
The flavour of mint combines well with beef, lamb, avocado, asparagus, cucumber, peas, artichoke and potato. It also enhances the flavour of many fruits such as figs, lemons, oranges, strawberries, raspberries, mango, rockmelon and watermelon.
Other spices benefit from combination with mint including garlic, cinnamon, ginger, basil, dill, cumin, parsley and of course, a favourite of many: mint and chocolate.
Mint is also a popular choice to add to a green smoothie or cool summer drink.