HISTORY & LORE –>
The Latin name for mint, Mentha, comes from an ancient Greek myth about a water nymph named Minthe who had an affair with Hades, the god of the underworld. Hades’ wife, Persephone was angered when the nymph boasted of the affair and turned her into a plant. Hades could not undo the transformation, so gave the plant a beautiful fragrance. When trampled underfoot, Minthe’s beauty appears in the form of the aroma of mint.
WATCH: Minthe the Nymph
YouTube video by ‘Myths Reborn‘ (4:38)
Mints are found throughout the world and have a long history of use.
Mint was used in Egypt from as far back as 1500 BC both as a medicine to cure digestive problems and in the embalming and mummification process. In ancient Greece, it was also used in funerary rituals.
Ancient Romans and Greeks used Mint for baths and perfumes. It was also popular to flavor cordials.
In medieval Europe, Mint was grown in monastery gardens and commonly for stomach problems and headaches.
Mints are perennial (hardy in zones 5-9).
You can grow mint from seed, but it doesn’t grow true-to-type as Mints easily cross, so seed packets are often just labeled ‘common mint’. To be sure of the cultivar, buy starter plants at a nursery.
TIP: Richters Herbs (richters.com) in Ontario has an incredible collection of Mints. Check them out if you’re searching for something special. It’s where I found my Mojito mint. I’m squeamish about having plants sent through the mail, but Richters does a great job packaging them so they arrive safe and sound.
Or, if you have a friend with a garden, hit them up! Mints when happy (partial shade and moist soil) spread throughout the garden (and into the lawn) and often need to be dug out. Gardener’s are usually very happy to share.
To control the exuberant roaming, plant Mint in containers or bottomless buckets sunk into the garden bed.
WATCH: Mint, How To Propagate From Cuttings
YouTube video by ‘Gardening at 58 North’ (6:12)
Did you know? Mint gets its aroma from menthol, an essential oil present in its leaves. It is rich in Vitamins A and C, and also contains smaller amounts of Vitamin B2 and minerals including calcium, zinc, copper and magnesium.
Recipe: Minty Snap Pea Salad by Sheela Prakash, thekitchn.com
Recipe: Portuguese-Style Mint Rice by Betsy Andrews, thekitchn.com
Recipe: Real mint sauce by James Martin, Housecall, BBC
And of course, MOJITOS!
A mojito is a refreshing summertime cocktail made with fresh mint, light (white) rum, lime juice, sugar (traditionally sugar cane juice), and sparkling water.
The original Cuban recipe uses a mint variety native to the island, a type of spearmint called mojito mint. Substitute spearmint if you can’t find true mojito mint.
Watermelon Mojito recipe (my favorite!) This recipe uses fresh watermelon in place of sparkling water.
- 4-6 mint leaves
- 1/2 lime
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 4 oz. watermelon (about 3/4 cup), cut into cubes
- 2 oz. rum
Combine mint, lime, and sugar in a large pitcher and muddle (mash) together with a spoon until sugar completely dissolves. Puree watermelon in a blender then add to pitcher. Stir in rum and mix well. Enjoy over ice.