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Garden Mints and Their Uses

Updated on December 4, 2012

Garden mints are among those herbs that have many uses in the kitchen, and are used as flavour enhancements for many foodstuffs, from new potatoes through mint sauces as an accompaniment to lamb dishes, to salads.

Everykitchen garden should include mint, but care should be taken when planting.

Any gardener will tell you that mint can very quickly become an invasive garden pest when planted in the kitchen garden.

It spreads by its roots, and a single planting one year can mean many years of this plant coming up all over the place, even in the flower garden, unless care is taken when it is first planted.

This can easily be avoided by planting mint in a container so that its roots are contained and not allowed to spread.

If your kitchen garden is set out in such a way that a container would look out of place, consider planting your mint inside a pot or a pail that you bury in the ground.

growing garden mints
growing garden mints

There are many different types of mint available, and what you grow is entirely a matter of personal choice.

Botanically, mint is Mentha spicata although there are many sub varieties.

Spearmint is the type used for minting new potatoes or peas, or for making mint sauce.

Others carry the flavours of ginger, pineapple, citrus and apple, all of which will enhance the cooked flavors of many kitchen dishes.

Whatever plant you choose to grow, you will find it really easy to propagate by simply potting up a branch of your plant with a little bit of root attached.

The mints can tolerate either full sun or shade, but do need more water than other kitchen herbs, so you may find it beneficial to grow in a container either near or in the kitchen, where you can give it water every day which other herbs in your kitchen garden may not appreciate.

bunch of mint
bunch of mint

How to dry dry mint for storage

In midsummer, mint can be dried for storage if the branches are cut off the parent plant before it sets flower and hung out in bunches to dry quickly under the summer sun on a washing line.

As soon as it has dried, rub the mint gently between your fingers to break the leaves off the stalks, and place in a sealed dry container.

Pineapple mint
Pineapple mint

Pineapple Mint

Pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens variegata) is a variety of apple mint, and is noted for its green and white variegated leaves.

While it does indeed give off a mild pineapple scent, crush the leaf and it loses its scent.

It can be used in fruit drinks and juices and as a garnish in food.

Its most popular use today is as part of a mojita drink, which is made by adding carbonated water, sugar, lime and crushed mint to rum.

Lime mint
Lime mint

Lime Mint

Lime mint (x piperita f. citrata 'lime') has a strong lime flavour and can be used in salads and fruit cocktails. It has rounded dark green leaves.

Try adding lime mint to curries and tomato dishes for that extra zing!

moroccan mint
moroccan mint

Moroccan Mint

Moroccan Mint (Mentha spicata) is a very fragrant variety of spearmint and is best suited for making mint tea which is lovely refreshing drink to have all year round.

Mint tea is best made by added a few sprigs of mint to a pot of boiled water that contains the teabags you normally use, and allowing to cool slightly.

Serve with sugar if desired.

Other mints available include chocolate mint, apple mint, corn mint, lemon mint, Indian mint, grapefruit mint and others too many to mention.

Each one has a different flavor, comes from every corner of the globe and has many cookery uses depending on origin and culture.

mint sauce
mint sauce

Food Uses For Mints

Mint tea can be made as an aid to digestion by infusing the dried leaves in boiling water.

Mint sauce can be made by adding a little boiling water to the dried leaves then adding sugar and vinegar.

Mint jelly requires tart apples, water, citric acid, mint and sugar.

Mint Julep is a mixture of beer, sherry, mint and lemon which makes a refreshing summer drink that might blow your head off, so be careful with it.

Mint can be added as a garnish to many dishes, or as an ingredient in many more.

mint as garnish
mint as garnish

Health Benefits of Mints

Mint has been used for over 3000 years for its medicinal properties.

It can be inhaled for its high menthol content, or smoked, or drank in the form of tea, and made into a poultice or cream for external skin application.

It can help

  • bronchitis
  • acne
  • burns
  • colds
  • dandruff
  • digestive ailments
  • liver problems
  • menstruation or nursing mother problems
  • skin afflictions
  • heart disease

There are so many health benefits to be derived from mint, it is impossible to list them all here.

But as you can see from the items on the right here, mint has a lot of uses in many industries for its soothing, calming effects and high menthol content.

The mint is used in the dental industry to make mouthwashes and toothpaste.

By the pharmaceutical industry to make many medicines and deodorants.

By many food manufacturers to make chocolate mints or mint sweets, as well as bottled mint jellies and sauces and as an additive in many bottled drinks.

It is used by the pest control industry in the making of manyinsecticide repellents.

Mint is one of those garden herbs that has so much more uses than we realise.


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    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 5 years ago from UK

      Mmmmm....sounds lovely :)

    • kjrzeek1 profile image

      kjrzeek1 5 years ago from New Jersey, USA

      Mint is great for a lot of dishes, but my favorite place to use mint is in a Mojito, a mixed drink made with clear rum. With summer coming I can almost taste it, so refreshing!

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 6 years ago from UK

      Hey - mine too. Spearmint rocks!!

    • Movie Master profile image

      Movie Master 6 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi izzym I love growing mint, for it's scent and colour as well as it's uses. My favourite is spearmint, well written many thanks

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      That's good to know..thanks Shona :)

    • Shona Venter profile image

      Shona Venter 7 years ago from South Africa

      Well written, IzzyM. Combining peppermint and lavender oils and massaging them on to your forehead, neck and temples, works wonders for alleviating and soothing migraines as well.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      I think its one of those drinks you either like or don't.

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 7 years ago from Florida

      I don't like sweet drinks, and I don't like bourbon, and so I don't drink mint juleps. I do, however, like scotch.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      That might be quite nice - there is a peppermint drink here that when mixed with whisky actually makes the whisky nice! (Yu can tell I don't like whisky, can't you?) lol

    • mysterylady 89 profile image

      mysterylady 89 7 years ago from Florida

      I had not realized there were so many different kinds of mint. A Mint Julep is the "official" drink of the Kentucky Derby, a horse race held on the first Saturday in May. It is crushed mint, crushed ice, bourbon whiskey, and simple syrup. When made correctly, it is very strong.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      Too true Ethel! Thanks for commenting :)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 7 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      We used to grow mint but it does take over unless your grow it in a tub or the like.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      I planted spearmint in my garden in a pot, and have it all over my garden now. Guess here in Spain the seeds self-seed! Hmmm...still, it smells nice when you brush against it! (and they choke a few weeds at the same time). I haven't tried any of the other mints yet, mainly because spearmint is the only one I really use.

    • jayjay40 profile image

      jayjay40 7 years ago from Bristol England

      I have grown many mints in the past and at first I made the classic mistake and grew it without a container. What a mistake!!!. I have grown those you mention plus apple mint and chocolate mint. The latter was not a great success.

    • IzzyM profile image

      IzzyM 7 years ago from UK

      Thanks Barry and Springboard for commenting :)

      Where near Alicante, Barry? I'm in Relleu.

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 7 years ago from Wisconsin

      ...and so easy to grow. Thanks.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 7 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Well done in that noisy Bar !

      ps my mother lives farly close to Alicante