Thursday, June 21, 2007

It's Mint Season


My garden's mint plot has grown outrageously this year. What do I do with all my spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, peppermint, orange mint, etc.? The varieties seem endless.

My first joy is to crush the leaves in my fingers and just breath in the amazing flavours and fragrances. Yet it seems so wasteful to have such a bountiful crop that doesn't get into my cooking. There are a number of traditional uses for mint in recipes.

• Sauces for meat, especially lamb
• Cooked with peas, green beans, and carrots
• As a garnish in salads, both fruit and vegetable, and cold desserts
• Mixed in with yogurt and cucumbers in various combinations
• As a ingredient in beverages such as tea, lemonade, and cocktails




Last year I tried making Cuban mojitos as a cool refreshing cocktail for the hot summer days. My biggest problem was crushing the mint leaves so that they became integral to the drink, rather than a green soggy floating lump. From what I've read since, the key is to use the appropriate bar tool, a MUDDLER

Here's my quick Mojito recipe:
• 2 oz white rum
• 2 oz club soda
• juice of 1 lime
• 4 mint leaves, crushed by a muddler
• crushed ice





With fresh Ontario peas now in season, you must try cooking them with mint! Besides the wonderful fragrance given off when you break open the pea pods, quickly steaming them with mint completes the taste experience with a versatile side dish. If you need a recipe, here's a simple and healthy one.




Childhood dinner-time memories from England evoke the taste and smell of mint sauces, particularly for lamb dishes. Finely chop a handful of freshly picked mint leaves along with a teaspoon of sugar. Place the chopped mint in a heatproof bowl and pour 50 ml of boiling water over the mint leaves. Stir in about 1 tbsp of sugar to taste, and sharpen with 4-5 tbsp of white wine vinegar, to add a pleasant tang.




Many middle-eastern cuisines use mint. Here's a recipe for the popular Tabouleh Salad which uses a whole cup of mint leaves.




If you have any favourite uses for mint that I've missed, please leave a comment and let me know!

5 comments:

Ferdzy said...

Hi - I just made this:

Strawberries in Mint Syrup

and after reading your post, I think it needs a little rum AND lime juice. Good, though!

Nice blog, by the way. I will be linking to it.

Anonymous said...

Chopped mint, mashed avocado and some mayo mixed together and spread onto any sandwich, but especially a grilled chicken one. with more avocado. yum.

inciquay said...

I live in an apartment (with no balcony - boourns) so gardens are not an option for me, but I'm intrigued by this pineapple mint you speak of. If I can't grow it myself, where can I find some?

Al said...

Hi INCIQUAY

You probably could grow it inside if you have some sunny windows. Most authorities recommend growing mint in pots because planted outside they quickly spread and take over the garden.
I honestly can't remember where I found mine. I often rescue plants from local retail outlets and may have adopted my pineapple mint that way.
Richters Herbs in Goodwood, just outside Toronto, has them (3 plants for $7.50).

inciquay said...

belated thank you!