Seasonal Selections: Mint
Bright, fresh, and aromatic, there are hundreds of varieties of mint to choose from and just as many uses for it. Whatever the use (culinary, aromatic, or medicinal), these fast-growing herbs are decidedly low-maintenance. In fact, you may want to plant them in containers to curtail their robust growth, since they spread by both runners and seed. Below are some favorites identified by Wilson’s Nurseries with locations in Frankfort and Lexington:
Banana — this variety features bright, fuzzy lime-green foliage with the aroma of bananas.
Berries & Cream — this mint has dark green leaves and a fruity mint flavor and scent, making it a perfect choice for summer drinks. Light purple flower spikes appear in the summer.
Kentucky Colonel — this large leafed, robust plant is the basis for that Derby favorite: the Mint Julep
Lemon — this variety has smooth, lemon-scented mid-green leaves. Both its leaves and flowers are often used to make potpourri or to impart a mint flavor with a hint of oregano in tea.
Mountain — Mountain Mint has both culinary (hot, spicy) and medicinal properties and makes a great seasoning. It flowers prolifically.
Peppermint & Variegated Peppermint — Well known for its medicinal and culinary charms, it’s often used to aid digestion (think after-dinner mints), is a natural decongestant and can be soothing to sore throats.
Spearmint – Spearmint is much prized in culinary circles. It has deep green, deeply veined leaves with mauve flowers that appear during the late summer.
Recipes to Try with Mint!
Sage Garden Café’s Honey Mint Sauce:
1 part Local organic honey
1 part Finely chopped mint
Finely chop the mint leaves and stir together with local organic honey. Stir into fresh fruit or spread on ice cream or desserts.
Bourbon Mint Tea:
Boil 4 cups of water and add ½ cup sugar, stirring to dissolve. Remove from the heat and add 8 teabags of black tea. Steep for 10 minutes, then discard the teabags. Add 4 cups of cold water and transfer to a pitcher and chill. Add ½ cup fresh mint leaves to the cooled tea. Using a wooden spoon, crush the mint until it’s fragrant. Stir in 2 cups of your favorite bourbon and serve over ice.
Mint Simple Syrup:
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 bunch fresh mint
Combine sugar and water in a small saucepan. Boil until the sugar is fully dissolved. Pour the syrup into a heatproof container filled with hand-crushed mint. Cover and refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight, then strain and discard the mint. Mint syrup will keep for up to 3 weeks in the refrigerator.