Mint is so hardy and the varieties are so appealing that I would highly recommend a garden patch or containers of mint to anyone. Mint plants grow very well. They can get by with limited sun and water (but watering helps), and if you don’t control them, they’ll spread and take over. A plant that grows great and needs only a little attention—that’s my kind of gardening.
I’m fortunate to have several varieties in my yard: peppermint, apple mint, orange mint, lemon mint, pineapple mint, chocolate mint, and the best known and possibly most flavorful and versatile, spearmint. Other varieties I’m intrigued by are lavender mint, ginger mint, and Moroccan mint.
Mint is good for you. It contains vitamin A and C and has antioxidant properties so it’s cleansing. It aids digestion, and the fragrance can have a calming effect. It’s also an appetite stimulant, so I try not to overdo it. There are many uses for mint:
- seasoning with grains, vegetables or fruit salad
- mint jelly
- classic cocktails: mint julep, mojito
- or even a refreshing bath additive
This slightly indulgently sweet recipe for mint soda can showcase subtle flavors of familiar or exotic mints. The raw sugar in the recipe (also called turbinado, unrefined, cane washed) adds deeper flavor than white sugar.
- 1 cup loosely packed mint leaves, washed
- 1/3 cup raw sugar
- 1 cup water
- Club soda
- Mint sprigs for garnish
- Make the syrup: In a small saucepan over medium heat, place mint leaves, sugar, and water. Stir to dissolve. Bring to a simmer, watching carefully to keep mixture from boiling. As soon as steam and a few bubbles appear, remove from heat, cover, and steep 30 minutes. Strain into a small pitcher, jar, or bowl. Discard leaves, and chill mint syrup.
- To make the soda: Place ice in a tall glass. Add 1/4 cup cooled mint syrup and top off with club soda. Stir gently to combine, garnish with mint sprig, and serve.
- Syrup can be refrigerated in a covered container up to 1 week.
(Recipe adapted from Mojitos at myrecipes.com.)