An abundance of Recipes From My Fresh Mint Garden To You, both sweet or savory, and let’s not forget drinks as well!
There Is One Great Way To Experience Fresh Herbs – Grow Them!
Growing up in a home that didn’t do much in the way of gardening, it wasn’t on my radar of things to do when I became an adult.
Surprisingly though, when I bought my first house, while also finding myself as a single mom of four, the passion for growing things impelled me!
A small patch of land, teens and preteens, a hair salon business in the home and you’d think I wouldn’t have time for one more thing.
Surprisingly, it became something fun we all did together, and oh, the rewards were great then, and an absolute necessity now.
Home Cooking Is An Amazing Way to Experiment With A New And Delicious Herb
Back in the 60’s, about the only place you saw a mint leaf was in a glass of iced tea, at a restaurant.
Wow, have we come a long way since then!
Having come from a Mediterranean influenced heritage, many of the delicious recipes I grew up eating and cooking, were heavily flavored with fresh herbs.
The first time I had a salad at a restaurant as a kid, I was perplexed as to what was missing in the salad that made it different from my mom’s salads.
What was the missing ingredient?
It was mint; my mom had been finely chopping mint in all the salads we ate, since I was a little kid.
Consequently, it was, subconsciously, at that moment that I realized, there must be many more herbs I need to learn to cook with!
And learn… I have.
Allow Me To Broaden Your Usage Of Mint In Ways That Will Excite You To Perhaps Grow Your Own Mint, If Only As A Window Potted Plant!
An herb that practically grows by itself, has been an intricate part of cooking, natural remedies, aromatherapy, even insect repellant is definitely worth our attention!
Various Types Of Mint
The first herbs I planted, long ago, was probably a mint plant, simply because I love using fresh mint leaves in many of the foods I prepare.
As I become more prolific in growing herbs, I tried my hand at a few other varieties, such as:
- Chocolate mint – which did not taste at all like chocolate, and only had brown tipped leaves, which reminded me of how fast basil turns brown after picking it.
- Orange mint – pleased with its slightly citrus notes but still tasted like peppermint or spearmint.
- Apple mint – also caught my eye, I bought the plant, cut off the leaves to try in a recipe and never planted it because it tasted just like peppermint to me.
Actually, they grow themselves, since I only planted a few and now they have meandered all around my gardens, and return every year.
How To Harvest And Dry Mint For Year Round Recipes
When mint begins to grow, you suddenly have more mint than you know what to do with.
What to do with it?
The easiest way to do this, starts by cutting lots of mint, before it begins to go to seed (little flowers on top).
Wash them, pat dry and spread the mint on a cookie sheet and dry it out in the lowest temperature of your oven.
I’ve set my oven to 175, place the mint in for about 15-minutes, turn off the oven and allow them to remain in the oven for several hours.
Once dried, simply crumble the dried leaves into a powdery pile of dark green, and store in a glass jar with a lid.
Oh, and by all means, bundle the remaining stalks from the mint, and save them for the grill or winter fires.
Fresh Mint Recipes From My Garden You Are Sure To Love
Now that we have chatted much about the garden, let’s go into the kitchen and start wowing you with fabulous recipes that have mint in them.
Recipes that will include everything from hot tea to cold soup.
I’ll wait while you go and gather a handful of mint from your garden or perhaps your nearby farmers market.
Cucumbers And Mint Are Going To Be A Great Place To Start
If you love a good cucumber salad, then on a hot summer day you are going to love a great cucumber salad called Tzatziki.
Unlike a cucumber salad with bottled dressing on it, tzatziki is made with thick plain yogurt (homemade yogurt in my kitchen), lots of mint, lemon juice and olive oil, red onion and salt.
Generally speaking, folks think of tzatziki as one of the savory dishes, served as a side dish in a Greek restaurant.
However, a version of it has been around in Arabic cooking for equally as long, using Labneh (a thick yogurt cheese), and often served on top of meat dishes.
For this reason, when I prepared Lamb Koftas on Guy’s Grocery Games with Food Network, of course I whipped up tzatziki to go along with it.
Have You Ever Had Cold Soup?
I’ve taken to growing the cutest cucumbers I’ve ever seen.
These cucumbers are known as an heirloom lemon cucumbers, because they look just like a lemon, though taste only of cucumber.
Because of their size, shape and color, I was inspired to make a Lemon Cucumber Cold Soup, with flavors much like tzatziki, and serve it in the hallowed out cucumber balls.
So fun, so delicious!
Simple Ingredients Make A Great Salad
In the dead of winter, what’s the first fruit that comes to mind when you think of summer?
Yes, watermelon! Okay, strawberries work too!
A quick and easy Watermelon Salad, on a bed of spinach or greens, with lots of mint and feta cheese is exactly the salad I want.
Certainly go ahead and cut stars out of the watermelon and serve this salad to start off summer for Memorial Day, half way through for Fourth of July and wrap up one more summer salad for Labor Day, all showcasing star shaped watermelon!
Do You Like Mint Drinks?
Of course, my first and favorite sip with mint is the best herbal tea around, mint tea.
From the jar of dried mint leaves we’ve made from our summer harvest of mint, a scoop of mint tea leaves goes into a teapot with hot water and that’s it!
And yes… that is pretty much what Moroccan mint tea is, hot peppermint tea from homegrown mint leaves.
But if you think that is an easy recipe, how about mint water in the dead of summer heat, Sparkling Mint Water, that is!
If Hot Chocolate with Mint is your thing, yes… we’ve got that, especially around the holidays with a little peppermint vodka to kick it up a notch.
Healthy recipes for cold and flu season, or simply a summer drink will always include the classic Mint Lemonade!
Lemonade, because the nutritious properties are off the charts, especially if you make it with honey instead of sugar.
And mint because it also a perfect addition to the lemonade (warm or cold), for an upset stomach.
How About A Few Boozie Mint Drinks!
For y’all southerners, of course, there is the Classic Mint Julep recipe served at every Kentucky Derby.
However, for an all around great boozie mint cocktail (also made as a mocktail), who wouldn’t love Mint Watermelon Cocktail!
This mint watermelon drink is so delicious, that I made it on The Great American Recipe with PBS to serve alongside Chicken and Waffles for the challenge of ‘A Portable Meal’!
And while you are probably waiting for me to toss in a mojito recipe, I’m going to do you one better.
Chocolate Mint Mojito Mousse?
There is lime juice, and then there is Finger Lime Caviar Juice!
Oh yes, this one is a brand new recipe I’ve recently created that is going to wow your socks off.
All you need to do is track down some finger limes for my Citriburst Finger Lime Mojito Mousse.
With all the flavors of a mint chocolate ice cream and all the class of an English trifle, a simple mint syrup is whisked into yogurt, with agar agar as the thickener, and layered with crushed chocolate cookies.
Who Likes A Good Pesto?
For sure we often think of basil when we think of a pesto, but let me tempt you with a Pea Mint Pesto.
Perfect to fill a tart cup with a place a roasted shrimp in the middle, as you will enjoy with my Pea Pesto Wonton Cups with pea shoots.
This same pea mint pesto is spectacular as a thick ‘schmear’ on a white plate with seared scallops on top; Seared Scallops Over Mint Pea Pesto.
Mint Is A Distinct Herb That Practically Grows By Itself So Do Consider A Pot Or Plot Of Dirt For Mint As One Of Many Fresh Ingredients You Love To Cook With As You Will Always Find From My Fresh Mint Garden!
Drying Fresh Mint For Recipes
- Cookie sheet
- Parchment paper
- 16 oz Glass jar with lid
- 12 inches Twine
- 8 cups Fresh mint stems and leaves
- 6 cups Water
- Gathering the mint with the longest stems possible, without pulling up the roots, offers plenty of flavor for both cooking, and to infuse flavor while grilling by using the stalks in the fire, once the leaves have been stripped.
- Immerse the mint in water and rinse the water several times. There is often sand and dirt in the mint.
- Lay the washed mint out on towels to absorb the water.
- Preheat the oven to 175. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on a large cookie sheet, or two is needed.
- Spread the mint onto the prepared cookie sheets. Place in the oven for 10-minutes, turn off the oven and leave the mint in the oven for several hours.
- Remove the mint from the oven and allow it to sit out overnight.
- The mint should now be dried and crisp enough to strip all the leaves from the stalks. Crush the dried leaves by hand.
- Store in a glass jar with a lid.
- Gather the stalks stripped of leaves, and tie twine around them to be used in the grill to impart flavor while cooking or in the fireplace for aromatherapy.