While peppermint leaves are available throughout the year, they are especially good in warm weather when they can give a burst of cool flavor to a summery salad or beverage.
Peppermint has greenish-purple lance-shaped leaves while the rounder leaves of spearmint are more of a grayish green color. The taste of both peppermint and spearmint bear a flavor that can be described as a cross between pepper and chlorophyll, with peppermint being a bit stronger and spearmint being a little more cool and subtle.
In ancient Greece, mint leaves were rubbed on dining tables to welcome guests, while in the Middle East, the host still traditionally offers mint tea to guests upon their arrival.
Peppermint is a good source of manganese, copper, and vitamin C.
Peppermint is not a commonly allergenic food and is not known to contain measurable amounts of oxalates or purines.
In the world of health research, randomized controlled trials have repeatedly shown the ability of peppermint oil to relieve symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, including indigestion, dyspepsia, and colonic muscle spasms. These healing properties of peppermint are apparently related to its smooth muscle relaxing ability. Once the smooth muscles surrounding the intestine are relaxed, there is less chance of spasm and the indigestion that can accompany it. The menthol contained in peppermint may be a key reason for this bowel-comforting effect. Also: A rich source of traditional nutrients, an Anti-microbial oil, breathe easier with peppermint, It’s a potential anti-cancer agent, soothe your tummy.
How to Select and Store
Whenever possible, choose fresh mint over the dried form of the herb since it is superior in flavor. The leaves of fresh mint should look vibrant and be a rich green color. They should be free from dark spots or yellowing.
Just like with other dried herbs, when purchasing dried mint try to select organically grown mint since this will give you more assurance that it has not been irradiated.
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To store fresh mint leaves, carefully wrap them in a damp paper towel and place inside of a loosely closed plastic bag. Store in the refrigerator, where it should keep fresh for several days. Dried mint should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place, where it will keep fresh for about nine to twelve months.
Mint is an ancient herb used since antiquity for its culinary, medicinal and aromatic properties. The origins of mint are honored in a Greek myth that tells the tale that the plant was originally a nymph (Minthe), who was transformed into a plant by Persephone, who was jealous of the affections that her husband Pluto was showing to Minthe. While Pluto could not reverse the spell that his wife cast, he did impart Minthe with a sweet smell, so when she was walked upon in the garden, her aroma would be delightful to the senses.
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Mint has played an important role in the American tradition. While the Native Americans were using mint even before the arrival of the European settlers, the early colonists brought this prized herb with them from the Old World since they had long honored it for its therapeutic properties, as well as for the delicious hot tea beverage made from its leaves.
Peppermint, fresh leaves | 2 tsp | 7.60 g | Calories: 5
|Vitamin C||2.42 mg||3|
|Vitamin A||16.14 mcg||2|
|Vitamin B1||0.01 mg||1|
|Vitamin B2||0.02 mg||2|
|Vitamin B3||0.413 mg||1|
|Vitamin B6||0.01 mg||1|
Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.
Preparing and Cooking with Peppermint
Mint complements so many other flavors, especially summer foods like tomatoes, eggplant, squash, cucumbers, watermelon, melons, and peppers. It goes well with other summery herbs like parsley, cilantro, basil, and dill and also with citrus flavors like lemon and lime, and spices like cumin, sumac, ginger, garlic, and curry powders or pastes.
But mint is much more versatile than many people realize. For something like a drink, you can generally bruise the mint and use the whole leaves fresh – rub it between your fingers a bit to release the oils and then just drop it in the drink. The main benefit of this method is that a bunch of dry, crumbled mint in a drink is going to make it look very muddled and hard to drink, as you’re constantly getting a mouthful of dried leaves (you could get around this by steeping it with the dried herbs and then straining it.). As a bonus, fresh picked herbs in a nice glass of lemonade, for example, just looks so fresh and tasty!
The Healthiest Way of Cooking With Peppermint read: Recipes.