Mint (menthe) has been used for many centuries.
Mentha (is a genus of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae (mint family).
There are many varieties of mint in cultivation, each with a distinctive bouquet and flavour. All mints prefer, and thrive in, cool, moist spots in partial shade. In general, mints tolerate a wide range of conditions, and can also be grown in full sun.
The commonest in culinary use are spearmint (mentha spicata or crispa), Pennyroyal (mentha pulegium) and peppermint (mentha piperita). Spearmint and peppermint leaves are deep green, long pointed and crinkled. Pennyroyal has small oval leaves, greyish in colour.
The leaf, fresh or dried, is the culinary source of mint. Fresh mint is usually preferred over dried mint when storage of the mint is not a problem. The leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavour with a cool aftertaste. Mint leaves are used in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, candies, and ice creams. Spearmint is the preferred variety. Mint combines well with many vegetables such as new potatoes, tomatoes, carrots and peas. A few chopped leaves give refreshment to green salads and salad dressings.
Peppermint is more commonly used in desserts, adding fresh flavour to fruits, ices and sherbets. Spearmint is popular in the Balkans and Middle East, where it is used both fresh and dried with grilled meats, stuffed vegetables and rice and is an essential ingredient of dolmas, stuffed vine leaves.
Medicinal use :
Mint was originally used as a medicinal herb to treat stomach ache and chest pains, and it is commonly used in the form of tea as a home remedy to help alleviate stomach pain. During the Middle Ages, powdered mint leaves were used to whiten teeth. Mint tea is a strong diuretic.
Mint is carminative, stimulative, stomachic, diaphoretic and antispasmodic. Peppermint has the highest concentrations of menthol, while preparations of spearmint are often given to children.
There are many varieties of mint in cultivation, each with a distinctive bouquet and flavour.
Spearmint is generally a sweet flavour imparting a cool sensation to the mouth. Peppermint has a stronger menthol taste. Pennyroyal is strong with a medicinal flavour.
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