Hello my dear readers,
We had discovered mint last week and we have seen its origins, how to grow it, seasonality and lots of varieties of this superb and aromatic herb.
Today let’s see:
how to use mint
how to choose mint
how to wash mint
how to store mint
properties and benefits of mint
contraindications in using mint
interesting facts about mint
Mint is a perennial plant about 30-60 cm high, whose leaves are rich in properties important for the health and well-being of our body.
In fact, they contain menthol, an active principle with calming, disinfectant, diuretic, refreshing properties, very useful in case of gastro-intestinal disorders, cough and capable of promoting digestion.
Therefore perfect not only in the kitchen but also for the preparation of herbal teas.
Let’s discover more.
How to use mint
Use in the kitchen
Mint is used to flavor sweet and savory dishes and to flavor tea.
To prepare a refreshing drink the most suitable quality is peppermint.
Here is a recipe: prepare an infusion with green tea, fresh mint leaves and a few fresh sage leaves. In a liter of water, about 30 grams of tea, 10/15 mint leaves and 4/5 sage leaves. Strain and sweeten with brown cane sugar. Cool first at room temperature and then in the fridge.
Speaking of the use of mint in the kitchen, while mint is appreciated to flavour rustic and country dishes, currently its leaves are used extensively to flavour pasta, stewed fruit and vegetables, in particular eggplant and zucchini and sweets.
There are numerous varieties of wild and garden mint, among those most used in gastronomy, peppermint stands out, a natural hybrid born around the seventeenth century, with a very strong flavor suitable for sweet preparations and drinks.
Each variety has a different food use. Peppermint, with its characteristic refreshing taste, is used in candy and chewing gum, Mentha pulegium, for example it is indicated in meat preparations.
Mint can be used in both fresh and dried cooking to flavor dishes. It gives salads, vegetables or legumes an extra taste and freshness.
From mint you can make an excellent liqueur and syrups from which refreshing popsicles, drinks and ice cream come to life.
In summer the fresh mint in the cocktails is a must, especially one very famous cocktail, mojito.
Other food uses
The dried mint leaves can be used together with lemon juice or zest to create an aromatic summer drink, simply by preparing an herbal tea which will then be left to cool.
Mint herbal teas are a real natural cure for all. For their herbal use, mint flowers and leaves are collected in the summer, between July and August and left to dry in the open air.
Mint tea is recommended for its digestive and toning properties. It can help to relax the muscles of the intestine and to promote digestion. It is also a good remedy also to fight sore throat by blocking the formation of microbes in the bud.
However, avoid consuming it during the evening hours: its stimulating effect could cause insomnia.
The mint infusion is excellent for decongestant face washes and for combating oily skin. And not only that: combined with calcium and sodium bicarbonate it is also ideal for preparing very fragrant toothpastes.
Without forgetting the mint mouthwash that you can make at home by leaving a teaspoon of mint leaves dried in 200 ml of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Filter and let cool and you will have obtained your natural mouthwash with an antiseptic action for the oral cavity.
MINT ESSENTIAL OIL
In case of a cold, you can try the mint essential oil instead: just pour a few drops into a liter of boiling water and then breathe in the vapors to feel immediately better.
Mint essential oil is also particularly used for the preparation of herbal remedies with which to combat rheumatism.
Diluted in vegetable oil, it is perfect for relaxing and anti-stress massages.
Menthol is extracted from mint, which is an ingredient in many perfumes, cosmetics, medicines and is even used to flavor cigarettes.
How to choose mint
If you need to buy mint, it must be bright green in color and the leaves must be beautiful fleshy and with a pleasant aroma.
How to wash mint
It should be rinsed for a short time under running water.
How to store mint
Cut mint leaves should be kept in the refrigerator in the fruit and vegetable compartment. It lasts for about 1-2 days. If it has long enough stems, it can be soaked in a flowerpot, where it will stay fresh longer. To always have it at hand it is advisable to grow the plant.
A trick with mint
Rubbing fresh mint leaves on the fingers can help eliminate bad smells left on the fingers by garlic or onion.
Mint properties and benefits
Calories and nutritional values of mint
100 g of mint contain 285 kcal
Mint is a medicinal plant rich in properties. The most famous benefit brought by mint is the balsamic effect, in general a positive effect on the respiratory tract is attributed. Mint is also referred to as a digestive.
Mint is currently recognized as an invigorating action of the stomach and central nervous system, it is recommended to use it to treat bad breath and inflammation of the mucous membranes.
In herbal medicine this natural product is highly regarded for regenerating potions and invigorating baths.
Mint is refreshing and helps in digestion. Rubbed on the teeth helps prevent and combat halitosis. The menthol contained in mint has properties that stimulate gastric activity; it is therefore a valid ally against problems of degestion. Menthol also has analgesic and antiemetic properties; mint can therefore be used to combat nausea and vomiting.
It has digestive functions, stimulant of gastric functions, antiseptic and antispasmodic, invigorating.
Decoctions and infusions can be prepared.
For its active ingredients, cicatrizing and disinfectant properties are attributed to it.
Contains menthol, vitamin C, antibiotic substances, limonene and isovalerianate.
Mint tea or herbal preparations based on mint are useful in case of diarrhea and gastric problems.
It can soothe coughs and colds, due to its sedative and antispasmodic properties. The menthol it contains is considered a vasodilator for the nasal mucosa.
For those suffering from car sickness mint is ideal, just make an infusion and drink it two or three days before the trip or keep it in the thermos and drink it during the trip as soon as nausea and vomiting appear.
Not recommended if …
The use of products and preparations containing mint and menthol could interfere with homeopathic treatments.
It is contraindicated for those suffering from gastroesophageal reflux and gastric ulcer and the use of essential oil should be avoided in people with severe liver disease, kidney failure and favism.
Mint essential oil, if used incorrectly and in excessive doses, can have an effect similar to that of some drugs. It can also cause arrhythmias. Like all other essential oils, it should therefore always be used with criteria and following the advice of a specialist.
Interesting facts about mint
Mojito, the well-known cocktail based on mint, rum, brown sugar, lime and tonic water, was invented in a Havana bar, La Bodeguita del Medio, frequented a lot by Hernest Hemingway who particularly loved this cocktail and who has decreed its success. The small restaurant, which is located today in the city center, is a popular tourist destination.
Legend has it that the first to mix mint with alcohol were the pirates of the Caribbean.
The brides, to be appreciated by their spouses, intertwined the flowery and fragrant stems in the wedding crowns.
Several texts report beliefs that the Latins forbade the consumption of mint by soldiers, because if enslaved by its aphrodisiac power they would have preferred to engage in amorous battles rather than those with the enemy.
Confirming the stimulating virtues of the plant, the wedding night was traditional for some peoples of the Mediterranean to distribute many mint leaves on the bedroom floor.
The Romans believed eating mint would increase intelligence. The scent of mint was also supposed to stop a person from losing his temper, and royal ambassadors carried mint sprigs in their pockets.
The opinion that the plant had invigorating qualities remained so until the seventeenth century, then in the nineteenth century the belief that this herbaceous had only the virtue of stimulating the digestive system.
For millennia, mint has been used as a symbolism of hospitality. In ancient Greece, it was rubbed on tables to welcome visitors. The herb was used to clear the air in temples and homes.
In the Middle East, mint tea was and still is offered to guests upon their arrival. What a great hospitality.
Mexicans call mint Yerba Bueno or good herb.
Pliny, the Roman author, considered mint a symbol of hospitality and wisdom, “the very smell of it reanimates the spirit”.
See you next time!
Thank you all for reading.
And if you would like to discover more about our food, you may enjoy my previous posts
Wish you a wonderful day!
And please stay safe!