If you haven’t harvested the mint that has been growing like gangbusters all summer, now is a good time to do it; once the temperature dips towards zero it will be too late, and it seems like a bit of a waste to let the bounty of this perennial herb go to waste. Even if you have been harvesting leaves all summer, chances are there’s still a lot of foliage left for you to collect and process into jellies, sauces and pestos that you can have in your larder or freezer all winter. There are several varieties of mint, the most popular being peppermint, spearmint and more recently, chocolate mint. Below are listed some of the other varieties, each with its own unique profile.
Mint itself has a charming and fascinating backstory and place in out culture, especiallyto anyone interested in ancient Greek mythology, in which myths evolved to explain the existence of certain flora and fauna land doomed love affairs like Echo and Narcissus. Mint has an equally interesting mythology surrounding it; Minthe (or Menthe) was a river naiad who fell in love with Hades, God of the Underworld. When Hades’ wife Persephone got wind of this she turned Minthe into the plant that bears her name- a favourite past time of the gods. Mint itself was then harvested and used in the preparation of the dead, it’s strong menthol aroma helping to offset the aroma of decay, and was brewed into a fermented entheogen in funeral rites, perhaps reuniting Minthe and Hades at last. The hallmark menthol, the essential oil from mint has been used for thousands of years for aromatherapy and relief of gastrointestinal issues, to treat itching and insect bites, as a diuretic, as a decongestant, a sleeping aid, and of course, to freshen the breath. At Fiesta, we love mint in the summer and avail ourselves of it whenever we can, using it to brighten up dishes both savoury and sweet, and showcasing it in summer cocktails like the mojito and the mint julep, and steeping the leaves into soothing mint tea. But mint is not just for the summer. You can freeze the leaves and keep them in re-sealable bags for use throughout the winter, and process them into a quick mint pesto that can also be divided into ice-cube trays, frozen, and accessed whenever needed. And best of all, the bounty harvested from the average garden mint will give you enough mint to make your own mint sauce and mint jelly. Both of these pantry essentials are super easy and fun to make, and wouldn’t it be awesome to wow your family and guests with your very own homemade mint sauce or jelly the next time you serve up a roast leg of lamb? Here are two, simple recipes to help you deal with all that mint, and add some serious wow-factor to your table, just in time for Thanksgiving.
Quick Mint Sauce
This is ridiculously simple and ready in a minute. Place 50 g of sugar, 150 ml malt vinegar and a large bunch of mint in your food processor, and process until smooth. Done.
Mint Jelly is a little more time consuming, but worth the effort. Here’s a straightforward recipe from our friends at CanadianLiving.