Mint – The Cool And Refreshing Herb
The herb is a member of the Lamiaceae family also known as the mint family. Among all of the members of this large family it is spearmint that is considered the most popular culinary herb. Another popular member of the family is peppermint which is used medicinally and in sweets as a flavoring. The leaves of the plant are deep green in color; slightly pointed oval leaves with prominently serrated edges. The leaves have a pleasant taste that is considered refreshing. Other forms of the herb include apple, bergamot, chocolate, curly, ginger, horse, lavender, lemon lime, and orange just to name a few.
Spearmint is thought to have its origin in the temperate regions of the old world.
Peppermint first appears in England in the 17th century, and both spearmint and peppermint were widely cultivated in the 18th century, and is now the country’s most important culinary herb. Peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint and water mint and is widely cultivated in Europe and Central and Western Asia to be used in menthol an important ingredient in the pharmaceutical industry.
The fresh herb usually as spearmint is purchased in bunches and stores well in water in the refrigerator. Good quality dried spearmint simply sold as mint is generally very dark green almost black in color, but can be light green in color as well, and when purchasing either one they should not look dusty. The dried herbs should be stored in an airtight package and where it is cool, dark, and away from extremes of humidity.
Peppermint is mainly used in sweets and tea. Spearmint has the biggest uses in dishes such as lamb with sauce, chicken, pork and veal, and vegetables such as potatoes and eggplant, salads and salad dressings. Spearmint is used extensively in Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Moroccan dishes.
For additional information about mint click on the link to Wikipedia.org
For some great sections on herbs and spices some great references are:
• The Spice and Herb Bible – Second Edition by Ian Hemphill with recipes by Kate Hemphill
• The Food Encyclopedia by Jacques L. Rolland and Carol Sherman with other contributors
• Field Guide to Herbs & Spices by Aliza Green
• The Contemporary Encyclopedia of Herbs & Spices – Seasonings For The Global Kitchen by Tony Hill
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