Mint is one of my most used summer herbs.
Summer might be on the way out but mint and lots of other herbs are still growing reasonably well in my garden.
Not that I don’t use it all year round but the fresh and sharp flavour makes it ideal to serve with drinks, cocktails, salads, fruit, desserts and teas. I really couldn’t imagine not having mint in the garden. For me it’s such an essential herb and I thought I’d share a few pics of how I’ve been using the various mints this year.
There are many different types of mint that will work well with food of course not forgetting the medicinal uses. I like to have a few varieties growing, all in pots and containers in my herb garden for easy access. As you can see above there’s lots of Spearmint, better known as garden or common mint and pineapple mint .
When we moved into our west of Scotland house 29 years ago parts of the garden were awash with garden mint and it took years to bring it under control and clear it from the beds. These days I grow in containers to restrain the plant as it’s such an invader in the garden. However, I must admit that if I had a suitable area I would grow Mint in the ground as in my experience the plants grow much stronger and last longer than in containers. And, for a great mint harvest every year, I find the bigger the container the bigger and better the harvest. When I’ve planted in smaller containers the vigorous growth means the plants have quickly become pot bound with the quality of the growth and leaves less healthy.
The other varieties I’m growing include, Moroccan mint, lavender mint, Indian mint, ginger mint, berries and cream mint, lime mint and chocolate mint.
Chocolate mint is excellent for using in baking or desserts, especially chocolate mousse. It’s easy to identify with unmistakeable subtle chocolate aroma and the brownish tinge running through the leaves. When I’m working around the garden I often chew on a few leaves for a wee chocolate hit.
Garden mint and Moroccan mint are my 2 favourites for tea and are indispensable for many gut issues. A cup of mint tea after a meal is a great digestive aid and can also help ease upset stomachs and wind.
Mint makes a lovely addition to summer drinks and cocktails and I like to use lime mint in gin. The leaves can also be individually frozen in ice cubes for adding directly to drinks.
A handful of herbs lift the flavour of a salad and mint adds a fresh and tasty zing. I like to use it in salads with fruit and cheese, especially Halloumi and feta.
This Berries and Cream mint is a new addition to my collection and as you would expect with a name like that this one is ideal for pairing with ice cream and other desserts or cakes.
Specialist herb nurseries are usually my first stop for new plants but mint is easy to propagate from runners or cuttings. And, it’s the cheapest way to get new plants. I found most small herb plants costing around £3 – £4 this year. Some of my younger new plants are now past their best in terms of growth for this year and I’ve started to prune some back. Most are sending out runners but the best time for rooting these or taking cuttings is in spring as new rhizomes and growth appears. Check out You tube for examples of how to do this.
Mint usually dies back around October and sadly this year with lockdown and the demands of family life, I just wasn’t organised enough to dry the best of the new growth in spring and early summer but I’m hoping to dry some bunches of leaves before the good weather leaves for another year. It’s very easy to dry and I usually either hang the bunch to dry or use a dehydrator.
Fingers crossed for a few more sunny days.