The various types of this English herb have flavors ranging from cool to spicy. The popular peppermint and spearmint varieties contains menthol.
Mint as an Herb
The numerous varieties of mint each have their own distinct flavor and appearance, with spearmint being the most famous. Its aroma of menthol and fresh aromatic flavor is found in many different foodstuffs, including chewing gum and chocolate. The refreshing coolness of mint is down to the menthol. The menthol content differs substantially between the different varieties and may also be mixed in with other flavors, depending on the plant. For example, curly mint tastes a bit like caraway, pineapple mint tastes like the yellow fruit and orange mint has a delicious bergamot flavor.
The flavor of mint is resistant to heat, so it can be cooked for longer periods of time. Mint leaves are also often used as a garnish on desserts. Nowhere is mint used quite so much as it is in England — in its native country, this herb is found in sweet dishes like compotes and confectionery, savory dishes like Indian curries, sauces and salads, and in teas and yogurt drinks. Mint jellies and roast lamb with mint are probably the most popular dishes featuring this distinctive herb. Mint is also extremely popular in Vietnam, and the Japanese peppermint grown there is used in almost all of the country’s dishes.
Spearmint makes a great addition to leaf salads, mixed salads and, of course, fruit salads, giving these dishes a new, exciting flavor.
Like marjoram, basil and oregano, mint belongs to the mint family. Depending on the species, the plant grows to up to 80 cm tall, and bears white, pink or purple flowers between July and August. Although mint leaves vary greatly from species to species, they are always ovate to lanceolate in shape and their edges are usually serrated or jagged. Mint has been used as an herb in Europe since early antiquity. Today, it is predominantly grown in North Africa. Mint has been harvested on a large scale in England since 1750, with the “Mitcham” variety considered to be the best-quality mint in the world.
- Scientific Name
- Mint family (Lamiaceae)
- Other Names
- Bushy mint, English mint