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Using Mint in Cooking
The Latin name for the mint group, Mentha, comes form the Greek, which means sweet-scented.
Even for the ancient civilizations, mints were revered. Prior to the arrival of the Romans in Great Britain, the Druids used mint as one of their sacred herbs. Both the Greeks and Romans made wide uses of these species. They used if for flavouring wines and sauces. They decorated their dining tables with sprigs of peppermint, and even wore garlands of mint during festivals. Roman women also used mint as a breath freshener.
Mint in Today's Kitchen
In today's kitchen, mint can be used with soups, salads, roast lamb or fish, butter, jellies, sauces, plain meats, poultry, stews, bean and lentil dishes, sweet dishes, fruit salads, cheese, fruits and teas.
Add fresh mint sprigs to the cooking water of peas, carrots, fresh beets and new potatoes. Mint flowers can be used in salads as well as garnishes for desserts. In Middle Eastern dishes, mint is used for cheese pastry fillings, yogurt dressings, and in stuffings for vegetables such as peppers, tomatoes, and aubergines.
Storing Garden Mint
Ideally garden mint should be used fresh off the plant, but it can also be stored quite successfully for those long winter months.
Cut as much as you wish to store just before the plant starts to flower- this will most likely be around late summer.
Drying Garden Mint
Mint can be dried in two ways, by either hanging small bunches upside down in a dark airy place or if you have enough space, dry the leaves and stems on racks. When the mint leaves and stems are dry, simply crumble them into an airtight jar. Some smell and taste is lost during drying.
Freezing Garden Mint
Freeze whole stalks or individual leaves quickly on trays, and then store in the freezer in sealable plastic bags.