There are over 600 varieties of Mint plants. If a recipe just calls for "Mint", what is likely meant is Spearmint.
The Mint taste comes from menthol, an active oil in the leaves. Menthol activates the cold sensors in our tongue, making things with Mint in them seem cooler than they are.
The leaves can be used dry or fresh. In Western food, the leaves and their extract are mostly used in sweet dishes, such as candies, baked goods, jellies and ice creams. Probably the only real exception in which Mint would appear on a dinner plate is as Mint sauce or sprinkled at the last minute into boiled carrots, peas or potatoes. In other cuisines, such as Vietnamese, Persian, Lebanese, Northern Indian and Turkish, Mint is used far more extensively in savoury dishes.
Most Mint plants are hardy perennials that propagate via their roots, which makes them easy to grow in your garden, but hard to keep in one spot. It's a good candidate for container gardening. Mint's taste is at its fullest when the plant is in full bloom.
The Mints best known to us are Peppermint and Spearmint. The Mint scent is at its purest and strongest in Peppermint and in Japanese Mint.
In a savoury dish, such as Thai food, you can use basil as a substitute.
1 small bunch, fresh = approx 10g = 1/2 cup, chopped
You can also use the ice-cube tray trick (see under Herbs) to freeze it.
Literature & Lore
"Here's flowers for you;
Hot lavender, Mints, savoury, marjoram;
The marigold, that goes to bed wi' the sun
And with him rises weeping: these are flowers
Of middle summer, and I think they are given
To men of middle age." -- Perdita, The Winter's Tale, IV, 4. Shakespeare.
MintAlpine Mint; Apple Mint; Banana Mint; Basil Mint; Bergamot Mint; Bergamot; Black Peppermint; Blue Balsam Mint; Bowles Mint; Chocolate Mint; Corn Mint; Corsican Mint; Curly Mint; Egyptian Mint; Ginger Mint; Habak Mint; Hairy Mint; Horse Mint; Huacatay Mint; Kentucky Colonel Mint; Korean Mint; Mint Vinegar; Mint; Moroccan Mint; Pennyroyal; Peppermint; Pineapple Mint; Red Stemmed Mint; River Mint; Roman Mint; Spearmint; Water Mint; White Peppermint; Yerba Buena
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