Mint is aromatic, annual herb. It is the plant which lives for more than 2 years. They have wide spreading underground and overground stems which grow below the soil surface that form roots at nodes and new plants from buds. It has erect, square branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from oblong to long which are wider in the middle. They are downy with serrated (saw toothed which is asymmetrical teeth pointed outwards) margin. Leaf color is generally dark green, gray green and sometimes pale yellow. Mint is widely distributed and can be found in many environments, most grow best in wet environments and moist soils.
Most common and popular mints for cultivation are Peppermint, Spearmint and most recently Apple mint. Mint repels pesty insects and attract beneficial ones.
Harvesting of leaves can be done anytime. Fresh leaves should be used immediately or stored in refrigerator upto few days in a plastic bag.
Dried mint leaves should be stored in airtight container in a cool, dark and dry area. In Hindi, mother tongue of India, it is called Pudina.
Culinary: The leaf fresh or dried is culinary source of mint. The leaves have warm, fresh, aromatic sweet flavor with cool aftertaste. It is used in teas, beverages, ice creams, chutneys, syrups, jellies and candies.
In middle eastern cuisine mint I used on lamb dishes. In British and American cuisines, it is used as mint sauce and jelly.
Mint is necessarily used in Touareg Tea, a popular tea in North African and Arab countries. Mint is used as a flavor and garnish in alcoholic drinks too.
It is extensively used as flavorings in breath freshness, drinks, antiseptic mouth rinses, toothpastes, chewing gums, desserts and candies like mint and chocolate.
The substances which gives mint it’s flavor and aroma are Menthol (Peppermint and Japanese mint) and
Pulegone (in pennyroyal and Corsican mint). The component primarily responsible for spearmint is L-Carvone.
Medicinal and Cosmetic:
Mint leaves are commonly steeped with water to make tea to use it as home remedy to alleviate stomach pain and as a sleeping aid. It is commonly used to treat insect bites mixed with camphor. The strong sharp flavour and scent of mint is also used as decongestant for illness such as common cold.
Menthol from mint essential oil is an ingredient of many cosmetics and some perfumes. It’s vey popular in Aromatherapy.
Availability: All year round.