Mint is the herb I most associate with summer. And I’m not just referring to jugs of Pimm’s, which would, of course, be incomplete without fresh mint.
There’s something wonderfully refreshing about the scent of fresh mint that is both mind-cleansing and invigorating. Cool, fragrant mint leaves are the perfect antidote to a hot summer’s day.
Grow Your Own Fresh Mint
At the beginning of the summer I transplanted some mint that was growing in the front garden into several pots that I’ve placed in the back garden and on the kitchen patio.
It’s a good idea to grow mint in pots anyway as it grows vigorously and the roots can spread easily, overwhelming other plants.
There are over thirty different species of mint but the kind I grow is Spearmint, also known as common mint or garden mint. It doesn’t have as high a menthol content as Peppermint, so is sweeter and less fiery.
Within a couple of weeks the mint was thriving with lots of new growth and soft, fresh aromatic leaves.
One of the joys of growing your own is being able to step outside the kitchen door and snip a bunch of mint for a cup of fresh mint tea. This has become my drink of the summer.
Fresh Mint Tea
I’ve noticed that many London restaurants have begun offering Fresh Mint Tea on their menus and charging in the region of £2.50 for a cup, so it gives me even more of a thrill to be able to grow my own and drink several cups a day for nothing.
When it’s been too hot for tea, I’ve been drinking mint water – a handful of bruised fresh mint leaves in a glass of cold water with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. It’s so delicious I think it’s made me drink even more water than usual.
Mint is one of those useful herbs that has countless medicinal and culinary uses too, but here are just a few.
Medicinal Uses of Mint
- In herbal medicine mint is renowned for its stimulating properties, but unlike caffeine, mint is both stimulating and calming at the same time.
- Mint is liver-cleansing and mucous-reducing. It is used as a decongestant in colds and catarrh.
- Mints stimulate the digestion. A cup of peppermint or spearmint tea after meals is an ideal way to avoid indigestion and abdominal discomfort after eating. Mint is widely used as a digestive aid to treat indigestion, flatulence and nausea.
- Peppermint oil can soothe rheumatism and bronchial congestion. It is also antiseptic and mildly anaesthetic.
Culinary Uses of Mint
Apart from mint tea, there are so many other ways I enjoy the culinary pleasures of mint.
The best ice-cream I’ve ever eaten was the ‘homemade’ fresh mint ice-cream served at Franklins restaurant in East Dulwich a few summers ago.
I love mint chocolate too, a bit of mint sauce with lamb and I always add a few chopped mint leaves to go with fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and cream. Yum!
Mint is also delicious served with yoghurt and cucumber and is the perfect accompaniment to spicy Indian dishes.
And you can’t beat freshly chopped mint with steamed carrots and peas. Add a blob of butter and you’ll be in heaven.
What are you waiting for? Put the kettle on. Pick some mint leaves. Relax. And enjoy.
What is your favourite use of mint? Let me know by leaving a comment in the box below.