The Fascinating Myth of Mint (and why you should grow peppermint at home)

by on December 16, 2011

When it comes to fresh herbs, who can say no to peppermint?

Legend has it that there was once a nymph named Minthe who was the god Pluto’s lover. When Pluto’s wife learned of the infidelity, she furiously  turned Minthe into a lowly plant to be walked upon.  Unable to reverse the spell, Pluto gave Minthe a beautiful aroma that would intoxicate all who walked on her leaves.

Let me go on record as saying that I am a huge fan of mint in all varieties. When it comes to herbs, there are few more versatile and resilient, which is why peppermint is this week’s recommendation for the best herbs to grow indoors, especially in the winter.

The peppermint mocha is nearly synonymous with winter itself and who can resist mint chocolate chip ice cream any time of year? There are lots of reported health benefits that are attributed to its use, but when you taste this good that’s just icing on the (chocolate mint) cupcake!

Here are a few of my favorite things to do with fresh peppermint:

  • A handful of fresh mint can be crushed and steeped in boiling water for a refreshing tisane (the technical term for herbal tea).
  • Peppermint can be dried easily for use throughout the year.
  • Make your own peppermint extract (see recipe below)
  • Chocolate mint ice cream. Need I say more?

Make Your Own Peppermint Extract
It couldn’t be any easier to make your own peppermint extract at home, and once you’ve done it you’ll never go back to store bought again.

  1. Pick 1/4 cup of fresh peppermint leaves. Wash and allow to dry completely.
  2. Bruise the leaves by rolling them in your hands.
  3. Place leaves in a clean, sterilized jar with a tight-fitting lid.
  4. Pour 1 cup of good vodka or everclear over the leaves and cover the jar tightly.
  5. Swirl the contents for a few seconds and store in a dark place for 30 days.
  6. At the end of 30 days, strain the extract and keep in a cool, dark place. Don’t throw away the leaves! Add them to your favorite brownie recipe for a tasty surprise!

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