General descriptions

Mentha (also known as mint, from Greek míntha, Linear B mi-ta) is a genus of plants in the family Lamiaceae (mint family). It is estimated that 13 to 18 species exist, and the exact distinction between species is still unclear.[ Hybridization between some of the species occurs naturally. Many other hybrids, as well as numerous cultivars, are known.

Mints are aromatic, almost exclusively perennial herbs. They have wide-spreading underground and overground stolons and erect, square, branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, from oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrated margin. Leaf colors range from dark green and gray-green to purple, blue, and sometimes pale yellow. The flowers are white to purple and produced in false whorls called verticillasters. The corolla is two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the largest. The fruit is a nutlet, containing one to four seeds.

While the species that makes up the genus Mentha is widely distributed and can be found in many environments, most grow best in wet environments and moist soils. Mints will grow 10–120 cm tall and can spread over an indeterminate area. Due to their tendency to spread unchecked, some mints are considered invasive.

Use

It can be used in many culinary preparations in its fresh or dried form. Also, there are many products available in the market, with a distinct minty flavor. Things such as toothpaste, shaving gels, chewing gums, breath fresheners, candies, teas, balms, oils, and inhalers with a mint flavor are the most used.

Due to its fresh taste, the mint extract is popularly paired with cakes, cookies, nutrition supplements, sugar-free products, and energy bars. Mint fragrance oil is used ice-creams and chocolates. Mint syrup is used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Apart from these different types of mint are used to prepare various oils such as peppermint oil and spearmint essential oil that provide many uses and benefits.

Cooking

Fresh mint provides excellent flavoring for many foods. Because the herb adds flavor without sodium, it is especially beneficial if you have cardiovascular disease or high blood pressure. Try adding chopped mint to sauces for lean, red meats or to boiled vegetables including peas, green beans or new potatoes. It is also terrific in a raw, fresh vegetable salad, particularly with cucumber and tomato. Use mint as a garnish for cool summer drinks and in fruit desserts. Dried peppermint leaves make a refreshing tea that may also help to ease indigestion symptoms.

  • Leaves are dried and frozen.
  • It could be preserved in sugar, salt, alcohol, sugar syrup and oil.
  • In Northern Arabian countries, mint is used as a vital ingredient in Touareg tea.
  • It is used as a flavoring agent for drinks, desserts, chewing gum, candies and chocolate.
  • Mint jellies and sauces are used to accompany lamb dishes.
  • It could be used dried or fresh in salads, as a tea or as a garnish for hot and cold drinks.
  • In Malaysia, mint is used by mixing with galangal and other fragrant spices for spicy noodle dish.
  • In cocktails, mint is used in mojitos and mint juleps.
  • It is used to promote flavor of seafood, cooked meats, cheeses and vegetables.
  • Add chopped mint to sauces for red meat particularly lamb.
  • Add several sprigs of mint to peas, green beans or even new potatoes whilst boiling.
  • Add mint to the homemade or even pre-prepared chocolate sauce for the choc and mint sauce.
  • Use it like a garnish for cool drinks as well as fruit desserts.
  • Use dried peppermint leaves, added to boiling water to have a refreshing as well as digestive tea.
  • Make a yogurt dressing along with cut mint leaves, natural yogurt, garlic and salt and pepper for salads particularly cucumber salad.
  • Add to cold soups or hot tomato soups.
  • Use for making curries.
  • Use mint to flavour cakes, meringues and biscuits.
  • Use to produce a marinade for lamb.
  • The Middle Eastern salad dish, Tabbouleh contains mint, bulgur, parsley, red onions, tomato and lemon juice.
  • Add chopped mint to rice, chickpea, couscous or bean dishes.

Nutritional value

Two tablespoons of fresh peppermint provides 2 calories, 0.12 grams of protein, 0.48 grams carbohydrates, 0.03 grams of fat and 0.30 grams of fiber. Mint contains small amounts of potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, vitamin C, iron and vitamin A.3

Planting

Easy to grow. Grow in trays and plant out or start from cuttings. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 21°C and 24°C. (Show °F/in)

Space plants: 30 cm apart. Best kept in pots to prevent spreading.

Harvest in 8-12 weeks. Cut leaves from top with scissors.

Compatible with (can grow beside): Cabbages, Tomatoes

Although mint can be grown from seeds, cuttings are a faster, more reliable option. Mint can be grown in pots outdoors or indoors

Mint prefers damp, partly shaded areas and once established will grow for many years. Mint dies down in Winter and sends up new shoots in Spring. Mint is a rampant grower and will take over a garden bed if not restrained.

One way to contain mint is to use an old bottomless bucket pushed into the ground. The mint won’t be able to put its roots out sideways, so will take longer to spread. If grown in a pot, mint needs to be watered regularly to keep it healthy.

Side effects

  • Allergic symptoms, such as flushing, headache, heart burn, irritated mucous membranes, muscle tremors, and skin rash (from an internal dose)
  • Skin inflammation with external use.
  • Throat or airway closure in infants and small children or in adults who drink tea that contains menthol
  • Relaxation of the lower esophageal sphincter and digestive tract muscles
  • Worsened symptoms of acid reflux disease and hiatal hernia.

Benefits

  • Treat Asthma
  • Cure Allergies & Hay Fever
  • Aid in Digestion
  • Aid in Breast Feeding
  • Prevent Respiratory Disorders
  • Skin Care
  • Weight Loss
  • Prevent Memory Loss
  • Treat Nausea
  • Oral Care
  • Relieve Headaches
  • Reduce Depression & Fatigue
Categories: Plants