Growing Mint: Tips and Recipes

Rediscover this classic culinary herb. Sometime it's easy to take mint for granted; learn more about growing mint and try our delicious mint recipes.

| April/May 2009

  • Green Mint: Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
    Jerry Pavia
  • Red Mint: Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
    Steven Foster
  • Fuzzy Mint: Pineapple mint (Mentha suaveolens 'Variegata')
    Saxon Holt
  • Green Mint: Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
    Steven Foster
  • Spearmint scrambles over rocks in this carefree woodland garden.
    Jerry Pavia

Some plants have been part of the human experience for so long that we take them completely for granted. Like the pathway in our garden or the sky overhead, mint often is overlooked, despite its role as a basic building block of an herb garden. Ordinary, common and well-used, mint rarely occurs to us as exotic.

However, if we consider its history and scope, we find that mint is anything but ordinary. Mint is found in diverse culinary cultures from Arabia, Iraq, India, Italy and Afghanistan to northern Europe and the Americas. Mint has been found in Egyptian tombs dating to 1000 b.c. and was common in ancient Japan and China. The Assyrians in what is now Iraq used mint in rituals and ancient Hebrews used mint as a strewing herb for fragrance on the floors of synagogues.

Mint Tips

• Mints for Health
• Growing Mint
• The Mint Family 

Mint Recipes

• Mint & Lettuce Salad
• Cucumber Mint Salad
• Apple Walnut Salad
• White Grape & Mint Salsa
• Minted Carrots
• Asian Pork Chops with Mint
• Herby Beer Bread
• Strawberries with Mint Cream
• Mojitos 
• Cold-Pressed Mint Tea
• Vietnamese Summer Rolls with Dipping Sauce
• Indian Grilled Chicken with Mint 
• Grilled Salmon with Mint Butter 

Ancient Uses For Mint Leaves

The early Greeks and Romans used spearmint as a seasoning in meat and vegetable dishes, and as a refreshing bath herb, often combined with rose petals. During the Middle Ages, dried, powdered mint was used to whiten teeth and freshen breath. As it turns out, humble mint has been one of the most widely used herbs in history.

Varieties of Mint

I recently conducted a nationwide survey of wholesale and retail plant and seed sellers to determine the 10 bestselling herbs in the country. Mint rated fourth in popularity, following basil, lavender and parsley. Nearly every gardener who starts an herb garden begins with mint, along with six or seven other herbs.

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