Mint is grown for its aromatic and flavorful leaves. The oval and serrated leaves of mint are indented with veins and come to a point. They impart a fresh, clean scent and a strong mint flavor with sweet overtones. Leaves are commonly bright to dark green in color, but some varieties can be purple, gray-green, or even pale yellow. If allowed to flower, mint will produce white, lavender, and purple petite blooms. Young leaves will have the best flavor and texture. Leaves allowed to mature on the plant for too long will become bitter and woodsy in flavor. The cool taste and sensation mint imparts are a result of the naturally occurring compound menthol contained in the herb.
Mint is rich in vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as in the trace mineral manganese. In addition to being a popular culinary herb, mint is prized for the medicinal and therapeutic properties of its aromatic oil. Furthermore, after dinner mints have gained popularity not only for their ability to refresh one's breath after a meal, but also for their ability to help combat nausea, cramping, and indigestion. Inhalation of steam scented with mint oil is said to help with respiratory problems such as asthma and bronchitis, and also in aromatherapy to help ease mental sluggishness and agitation.
Mint is used fresh and dried for both sweet and savory dishes. Infuse syrups or blend them into cocktails, yogurt, whipped cream, and sorbet. Use it as an aromatic garnish on food and beverages. Combine with fresh fruit, green or grain salads. It is a popular herb for use in Turkish, Indian, Vietnamese, Greek, and Persian cuisines. Its flavor pairs well with citrus, berries, seafood, lamb, melons, peas, beans, summer squash, chocolate, and aged sheep's milk cheeses. Mint is delicate and bruises easily; keep it cool and dry in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Mint is available year-round.