Mint: A Fresh Herb That Has Many Uses
Posted: Tuesday, September 1, 2009
If you have ever planted fresh herbs in your garden, you know that they grow like weeds and spread like wild fire! Mint is no exception. Mint comes in many varieties, such as spearmint, peppermint, apple, pineapple and chocolate. If you have a bumper crop and don't know what to do with it, here are several suggestions:
- Use in drinks such as Mojitos.
- Add a sprig as a garnish to a glass of lemonade.
- Freeze sprigs of mint in ice cubes to add a subtle mint flavor to summer beverages. Use distilled water so the ice won't be cloudy and will allow you to clearly see the mint.
- Add to marinades or salad dressings.
- Substitute mint for basil in any pesto recipe.
- Substitute mint in any recipe that calls for fresh cilantro.
- Stir very finely chopped fresh mint into cake batter.
- Toss with oven-roasted cherry tomatoes for a colorful and flavorful side dish to grilled meat.
- Snipped fresh mint adds a unique flavor to tossed salads or sandwiches.
- When substituting fresh mint for dried mint in a recipe, use three times more fresh than dry.
To get the most out of your crop of fresh mint, follow these tips:
- Add fresh mint toward the end of cooking time, or sprinkle on top of the finished dish. Cooking this tender herb rapidly diffuses its flavor.
- Put mint in a large bowl of cool water and swish about with your hands to loosen any bits of grit. Lift the herbs out of the water, leaving the grit in the bottom of the bowl. If the mint is very gritty, repeat the process. Then, spin dry in a salad spinner, or blot dry by rolling up in a kitchen towel.
- To keep mint longer in the refrigerator, store in water. For a stable herb container, cut off the top of a plastic 1-quart or 1/2-gallon milk or water jug. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and store on the top shelf of the refrigerator (the warmest part) for up to five days.
- If you can't use all your fresh mint, chop and place a tablespoon in each compartment of an ice cube tray. Add water or oil to cover, and freeze solid. Remove from ice cube trays and freeze for up to six months in a zipper-closure food storage bag. To thaw, place in a strainer under cold water until the ice melts. Use immediately.
- To dry fresh mint, spread on a mesh screen and leave in a dry, well-ventilated area until crumbly. Store in airtight containers.
- To coarsely chop fresh mint, stuff the leaves into a coffee mug; insert the pointed end of a scissors into the herbs, and snip, rotating the scissors 90° with each snip.
- To shred fresh mint, stack the leaves no higher than 1/4". Roll the stack lengthwise into a cigar. Cut crosswise into paper-thin slices, also known as chiffonade.