Mint leaves are dried spearmint leaves of the species Mentha spicata. The dark green leaves have a pleasant warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste.
Use in teas, beverages, jellies, syrups, ice creams, confections, chutneys, raitas, and lamb dishes, mint is featured in Afghanistani, Egyptian, Indian, and Mid-Eastern cuisines and spice blends such as chat masola, mint sauce, and green Thai curry.
Mint is native to Europe and Asia and was previously grown in convent gardens. Today, mint is commercially cultivated in the United States and Egypt.
Mint was used by the ancient Assyrians in rituals to their fire god. The ancient Hebrews scattered mint leaves on the synagogue floor so that each footstep would produce a fragrant whiff. Spearmint was used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as a flavoring herb, culinary condiment, and in perfumes and bath scents. Mint was named by the Greeks after the mythical character, Menthe. During the Middle Ages, besides in culinary uses, powdered mint leaves were used to whiten the teeth.
Americans are discovering that this herb is much more than just a garnish, breath mint, or star ingredient in a classic Southern cocktail. Because of its importance in Mediterranean, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, and Latin American cuisines, Americans' consumption of mint has increased 83 percent over the past two decades. Mint is simultaneously pleasant, warm, fresh, and aromatic, with a cool aftertaste, and is great for balancing spicier foods. It is also thought to have stress-relieving qualities, making it a popular ingredient in a variety of essential oils, candles, and lotions.
What The Experts Say
Chef Paul Kahan, of Blackbird and Avec in Chicago, uses mint in a salsa verde which he serves with crumbled feta as a complement to roasted lamb with parsley and capers.
Perfect Flavor Partners Include:
Basil, bourbon, chile peppers, chocolate, cilantro, citrus, dill, fish sauce, oregano, rum, and soy sauce
Light to dark green
Flavor & Aroma
Fresh, strong, cool
Mint has an aromatic, strong, sweet flavor with a cool aftertaste.