KITCHEN: 11 Things to Do or Make with the Invasive Herb-Mint

If you have any form of mint in your garden, you, like me, are probably doing battle with it constantly. It is extremely invasive. But I find myself feeling guilty throwing these sweet smelling leaves in the compost pile when I rip them out of my Iris and Catmint patch. Here are some ideas that help me use this great herb. Maybe they will inspire you, too! If you don't want to plant this herb in the ground, a container pot will keep it under control. It may even come back year to year if you keep the pot near a wall for frost protection, or in the garage.

1: Make tea
Dry the leaves upside down and store in an airtight container. Use leaves in a tea leaf cage on it's own or as a minty accent to black tea. Use it fresh in hot water to make a tea similar to Middle Eastern mint teas. Here's how-

To make mint tea, heat water to an almost boil and pour over mint leaves. Place in a glass container and let sit, covered, for 3-5 minutes. Strain liquid through a strainer.

2: As an accent to lemonade or iced tea. We actually make a great iced tea/lemonade combo that spearmint is an important ingredient. Here's the recipe:

Mint Lemonade Iced Tea

5 tea bags
1 small can frozen lemonade
1 cup fresh spearmint leaves
1/2 cup sugar

Steep tea bags and spearmint leaves in hot water for 3-5 hours. Strain and add to a gallon jar. Mix in the lemonade. Fill the jar with water and ice and serve. Garnish with a mint leaf!

3: Chop it up and add it to a simple fruit salad-or a watermelon salad.

4: Spearmint is a great ingredient for homemade ice cream. Below are some great recipe links-

5: Create a bath sachet with old panty hose or tied-off cheesecloth filled with spearmint leaves, and tie it to the faucet of your hot bath. The spearmint oils will infuse your bath to energize tired muscles. The vapors may also help with congestion or coughs.

6: Mint has a soothing affect on skin. Use it ground up in a homemade facial mask.

Mint mask:

1 Tbsp. Ground or powdered Spearmint
1 Tbsp. Honey
1 Tbsp. Oil (cooking)
1 cap of Liquid CoQ10
Combine all ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Apply this mask to your face, leaving on for approximately 20 minutes. Afterward, rinse with cool water. *This mixture can be stored for up to a month in a glass jar.

7: Spearmint is a major ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking. A staple for many kabobs and salads is a yogurt sauce-here is a recipe you can try:

Yogurt, Cucumber and Mint  Sauce:

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped
10 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 3/4 cup plain, thick yogurt

In a bowl, mix all the ingredients. Season to taste. Serve with roasted meat or with pita chips as an appetizer.

8: Mojitos and Mint Juleps, just to name a few alcoholic beverages that spearmint is indispensable.
Mint Juleps 

4 handfuls mint leaves
1 1/3 cup sugar
4 cups water
8 ounces bourbon
Crushed ice

Working in batches, bruise the mint leaves in a bowl, slightly crushing leaves with a mortar/pestle or the rounded handle of a rolling pin. Combine mint, sugar and water in a saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes. Strain. Fill 4 silver julep cups with crushed ice. Add 2 ounces bourbon to each cup. Pour equal amounts of syrup into each cup. Stir rapidly until outside of cup gets frosty. Rub fresh mint around the rim of the cup.

9: Spearmint can be used indoors as a substitute to normal cut flowers. It's scent will freshen a room and the leaves and it's flowers can liven it. You can also use the herbs to accent conventional flowers in vases as well.

10: Great accent to candies and desserts. I made a dark chocolate mint torte that was unbelievable. By steeping the leaves in cream it can be used to make many chocolate mint flavored desserts-or mint whipping cream!

11: Something very simple but healthy-mint water! Add 1 cup bruised spearmint leaves to half gallon of cool, fresh water. Chill, strain and serve over ice. These little leaves help with digestive upset and freshen breath. So make your water even more beneficial for you by adding these great leaves.



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