4 Ways to Use Fresh Mint in the Kitchen

4 Ways to Use Fresh Mint in the Kitchen

Mint is a summer staple in many herb gardens that is known for being very easy to grow. So what do you do with an abundant supply of fresh mint?

The Different Types of Mint

Before we get into all the tasty ways to use fresh mint, let’s look at two of the most common variations of this simple herb:

Spearmint

Spearmint has demonstrated antioxidant activity, with the key active constituents thought to be carvone and limonene; these account for around 41% and 21% of the essential oil compounds, respectively, in the herb [1]. It has also been found to contain macronutrients such as potassium, calcium, and phosphate, alongside flavonoids kaempferol and catechins, as well as vitamin A [2].

Peppermint

In Herbal Medicine peppermint extract is traditionally used to aid digestion and help relieve flatulent dyspepsia while peppermint essential oil is used to help relieve nausea and vomiting [3] [4].

Growing and Harvesting Fresh Mint

Mint has a reputation for being able to easily overtake a garden if left to its own devices. Because it thrives so easily, it’s best to grow mint in either a large container or a garden bed of its own.

It’s best to harvest your mint on a sunny day, mid-morning. This is when the volatile oils and other compounds are at their peak, and the dew is long gone.

You can use any of the following three methods to effectively dry mint for storage and future use:

  1. Tie your mint into bundles and hang upside to air dry.
  2. Use a food dehydrator or an oven on a low heat overnight.
  3. Use your microwave to dry mint quickly (four minutes on high heat, with paper towel beneath the mint should suffice).

Four Ways to Use Fresh Mint in the Kitchen

1. Mint Tea

Mint Tea

Hot or cold, mint tea is one of the easiest and nicest ways to enjoy fresh mint. To make a batch of mint tea, simply tear up the mint leaves, add them to a French press or teapot, and steep for 3–7 minutes. Strain well and enjoy.

 2. Summer Squash Soup

Summer Squash Soup

If you want to try mint in a savoury dish, summer squash soup is your ticket.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • 2 large onions, minced
  • 6 small zucchinis, thinly sliced
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1.4 cup of fresh mint

Directions:

  1. Sauté the large onions and zucchinis in olive oil.
  2. Add vegetable broth to the pan, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper and let it cool slightly before blending in a food processor.
  4. Stir in a quarter of a cup of minced mint and serve.

3. Glazed Root Vegetables

Glazed Root Vegetables

If soup isn’t your thing, you might want to try some mint and maple glazed root vegetables instead.

  1. Thinly slice half a pound of carrots and half a pound of parsnips.
  2. Steam until almost tender.
  3. Lightly sauté in a saucepan with olive oil and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup.
  4. Add 2 tablespoons of minced mint and sauté for a couple more minutes.

4. Tabbouleh

Tabbouleh

Mint is a great addition to Tabbouleh, a Middle Eastern dish.

  1. Soak 1 cup of bulgur wheat in three cups of hot water for an hour, then drain and squeeze out any excess water.
  2. Spread out the bulgur wheat on a clean tea towel to dry.
  3. Mince 3 small scallions, and 3 tablespoons each of fresh mint and parsley.
  4. Add scallions and herbs to the dried bulgur wheat, along with 3 tablespoons each of olive oil and lemon juice.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and serve on a bed of Romaine lettuce, along with diced cucumber and tomato.

References:

[1] Snoussi, M., Noumi, E., Trabelsi, N., et al. (2015). Mentha spicata Essential Oil: Chemical Composition, Antioxidant and Antibacterial Activities against Planktonic and Biofilm Cultures of Vibrio spp. Strains. Molecules, 20(8), 14402-24.

[2] Turkoglu, S. (2015). Assessment of wild mint from Tunceli as source of bioactive compounds, and its antioxidant Activity. Cell Mol Biol (Noisy-le-grand), 61(8), 63-8.

[3] Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.Rodriguez-Fragoso, L., Reyes-Esparza, J., Burchiel, S., Herrera-Ruiz, D., & Torres, E. (2008). Risks and Benefits of Commonly used Herbal Medicines in México. Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, 227(1), 125-135.

[4] Blumenthal, M., Goldberg, A., Brinckmann, J., editors. (2000). Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Boston (MA): Integrative Medicine Communications. Hoffmann, D. (2003). Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine. Rochester (VT): Healing Arts Press.