Mint water is thirst quenching and rejuvenating and simple to prepare--try it--you'll like it on a hot summer day. Click on other pix to enlarge and read captions.Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
Spearmint is the most-used mint in the world as it grows on all of the continents except for the North and South Poles. If yours looks like this it is time to cut it back and dry it or preserve it; and then you'll get new growth for another harvest.Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
A favorite summertime beverage: fresh brewed iced tea with lemon and mint.Photo/Illustration: Susan Belsinger
As temperatures soar outside, we need relief from the heat. Mint is a naturally cooling and refreshing herb that most of us have right in our own backyards (usually in abundance due to its rampant spreading habit).
Here is an article all about mint, which I wrote for Kitchen Garden Magazine in 2009–Culinary Mint Medley is still current–there is info and i.d. on a variety of mints, and ideas for preserving and recipes. /item/4002/culinary-mint-medley
When a recipe calls for mint and does not specify a certain variety, it is most likely spearmint. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is grown around the globe on all of the continents except for the poles. This mint is mild and bright and sweet in flavor, and is refreshing and cooling.
Here are a few simple and easy ideas and recipes for cooling down with mint right now.
1. Harvest a large handful of spearmint or peppermint, rinse it if need be, and put it into a quart jar or larger. I usually fill the jar 1/2 to 2/3 full of mint. Add cold water to fill the jar and cover the mint. I have well water, however if you have chlorinated water, allow the water to sit in an open jar overnight so that the chlorine dissipates before using, or use spring water. Refrigerate the water for an hour or two. Remove the mint after 8 hours and drink the water within 24 hours. Mint water is refreshing and rejuvenating in hot weather. Variation: add a slice lemon or lime which is thirst quenching.
2. Next time you are fixing a glass of iced tea or lemonade, cut a sprig of mint and rub it around the rim of the glass. Add ice, pour in tea or lemonade, add a lemon slice and the sprig of mint. This so simple yet so delicious.
3. When cutting melon–watermelon, cantaloupe or honeydew–place it in a container with a handful of mint sprigs. Chill for 30 minutes and up to a few hours. The melon will be juicy and sweet and pleasantly infused with a hint of mint.
4. Hot tired feet? Harvest a bunch of mint and bruise the sprigs in a shallow basin. Add tepid to lukewarm water (or cool to cold if you are up for it), with perhaps a few drops of a favorite esssential oil; stir the oil into the water by swishing it with a few mint sprigs. Sit back and soak those tootsies while sipping on one of the aforementioned beverages… or better yet, kick back with a Mojito.
5. Make yourself a Mojito–traditional, ginger, fruit-flavored or non-alcoholic are all muddled with mint for an invigorating libation. /item/12283/mint-mojito
If you want to read about some of the health benefits of mint, check out this article “The Benefits of Mint” by Karim Towndsend. /item/16156/uncovering-the-benefits-of-mint
And for the best tabbouleh recipe ever (if I do say so myself) try this vegetarian entree recipe for a cooling summer supper. /item/4065/tabbouleh-with-mint
Balsam and pepper, apple and ginger,
many tastes their names have lent,
while spear describes the leafy finger.
In such a bunch of jolly herbs
why is none named merriment?
—Susan Belsinger & Carolyn Dille
Herbs in the Kitchen