Mint has been used as a medicinal cure for common ailments such as headaches, heartburn, indigestion, gas and sleeping problems since the Greeks added the plant to their bathing rituals. Known for their sweet flavor and cool aftertaste, these fragrant plants are some of the most popular herbs used in American cuisine. Mint leaves can be found in teas, jellies, candies and ice creams. Mint also is used in skin care products and is a component of many pharmaceuticals.
Mint is a perennial herb in the Lamiaceae family, and is used as a flavoring or scent. Traditionally, herbs with fragrant leaves are termed mint and include other cooking plants such as rosemary, sage, oregano and basil. The aroma comes from menthol found in hairlike oil glands on the leaves and stems. The most common and popular mints are peppermint and spearmint. Most contain vitamins B-1 and B-2, carotenes, calcium, iron and phosphorus.
In the kitchen
Mint’s flavorful taste initially was used by the ancient Greeks as a digestive aid; a treatment for colds, coughs and fevers; and a food flavor. Spearmint and peppermint sprigs can be added to drinks and fruit dishes as a garnish, or made into a refreshing tea. Mint commonly is used in Middle Eastern cuisine, complements lamb and pairs well with chocolate. Potosi Hot Springs Resort in Pony, Montana, features Minted Grilled Lamb Chops, and also flavors its water with mint sprigs and lemon wedges. Whip up some Ginger Citrus Honey Mint Dressing from The Noosa Spa at the South Pacific Resort in Noosaville, Australia, which has a zesty sweet taste that’s great on salads, new potatoes or muesli—a healthy, all-natural cereal made of whole oats, dried fruit and nuts. Or create a delicious Apple-Mint Salad like the one served at Gold Lake Mountain Resort and Spa in Ward, Colorado. See also Mint, Melon, Cucumber Salsa on Salmon, courtesy of The Heartland Spa in Gilman, Illinois.