Jessy Rushing is a Texas gardener who fell in love with herbs after tripping into a rosemary shrub one day. The scent on her clothes cheered her up all afternoon. Her curiosity was aroused and since then her herb gardening has been part investigation, part experimentation and most importantly, part delight.
Nothing is more invigorating to me than the aroma of mint. My senses feel sharper, my mind keener and my attitude is immediately elevated. If you’ve never grown herbs or had bad luck with them, you will be successful growing mint. It will grow everywhere, except possibly the frozen tundra of Alaska. Keeping mint from overtaking a garden can be a full time job, unless you plant it in containers.
Mint, a perennial, has been a garden staple for thousands of years. In Greek mythology, Minthe was Pluto’s girlfriend. Pluto’s wife, Persephone, was not pleased with this arrangement and turned the beautiful Minthe into a lowly groundcover. Pluto could not reverse the spell, but instead gave the plant the wonderful aroma when its leaves are bruised or its stems crushed.
I have a friend at work that keeps me supplied in fresh mint, so I spent this weekend trying different mint recipes. Some were better than others, so I’m sharing the really yummy ones with you.
• 2 1/2 cups fresh mint, chopped
• 1/3 cup minced onion
• 1/3 cup white sugar
• 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
• 1/2 teaspoon cayenne or red pepper flakes
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
1. Mix all the ingredients together. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
I wasn’t sure exactly what chutney was, but a friend said it’s a relish, so we tried it on hot dogs and it was out of this world. You’ll want to make a lot of this, come cook-out time!
Cucumber Salad with Mint
• 1 cucumber, peeled, sliced vertically, seeded and chopped
• 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
• 1 1/2 teaspoons splenda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 1/3 cup coarsely chopped red onion
• 1/4 cup coarsely chopped mint
• 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
• Salt and pepper to taste
1. Mix the cucumber, vinegar, splenda and salt. Let it sit at room temperature for an hour.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
Mint Fruit Dip
This is a cool, refreshing salad that’s sure to be a hit during the hot days that will be here soon.
• 2 cups Greek yogurt
• 1 teaspoon honey
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
• 12 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1. Mix together all ingredients. Cover and store in refrigerator.
2. Dip your strawberries, apples and anything else you have in this dip and kick back with a nice Pinot Grigio–Ahh, summertime!
Photos by Jessy Rushing
Mint can be frozen for later use. Spread out mint on a cookie sheet and freeze for 3 to 4 hours, then put into freezer bags.
You can also freeze it in icetrays. Chop your fresh mint; fill each cubby of an ice tray half way with mint; fill the rest with water; and you’ll soon have minty ice ready for your lemonade or iced tea.
Get creative and dream up new possibilities for your mint. Summer’s on its way, so let’s make the most of this prolific herb and chill out with some cool, mint treats.