Wednesday, June 3, 2009

How to use fresh herbs: mint

Mint is one of the "staple" herbs. When you think of planting an herb garden, you immediately write down mint on your list of herbs you must have. Spearmint and peppermint are the most common varieties but you will find there are many to choose from.

Spearmint was my choice and I like it because it's one of those plants that you plant once and it just keeps coming back. You will have it year after year and it will spread all over your garden, if you leave it alone.

How can you use it? I will give you a few suggestions to get you started and you can go from there.

First, iced tea. I love mint in my iced tea. I would prefer it to lemon. I like to crush it a little and just put it in the ice and sip it on a hot summer afternoon. A-h-h-h-h! It is SO refreshing. It makes a very attractive garnish. I will admit that my photo doesn't do it justice. I had the tea, ice and mint but I didn't show you the summer's day!

Another way to use mint is to freshen your breath. Just chew a half leaf and you will get the same effect as a breath mint without the sugar. It has to be better for your teeth.

I have read that it can help freshen a room. Put it in a vase with water and allow it to waft through the air to add a fresh scent.

In cooking: Chop a bit of fresh mint in a mixed fruit salad.

Make a mint pesto to accompany a lamb dish: In a pan, melt a tablespoon of butter, add 1/4 cup of fresh chopped mint and saute on medium high heat for a few minutes, then add a tablespoon of honey. Serve with lamb.

And the best way to use mint? Chocolate.You can dip leaves in melted chocolate bark, place on waxed paper until cool. Use them as a garnish.

Make Chocolate Mint Brownies. This is easy. Add 1/4 cup of finely chopped mint to a brownie mix (or more if you really like it). What could be easier?

The down side of mint? It can be a problem with those who suffer from reflux. Even though mint is often used as a digestive aid, it can aggravate reflux. That is the only negative I can come up with.

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