Saturday, May 27, 2006

Mint to Be

One of the mainstays in my herb garden over the past few years has been mint. Such a hardy herb it is, one of the first to bounce back every spring (if not earlier), and more than happy to take more than its fair share of garden space.

At present, I have four patches of mint: a sprawling patch of spearmint between the house and the garage (in perfect range for a quick iced tea fix); a handful of chocolate mint runners along the house (yes, it's ideal in brownies); a tiny but persistent clump of peppermint; and an ever-expanding mound of bergamot-scented Moroccan mint.

Over time, I've come to appreciate the Moroccan mint the most. Its flavor is reminiscent of a green, soft Earl Grey tea, and it pairs well both with citrus flavors and floral ones.

So far, I've limited my adventures with this variety to teas and sweets. I've made a classic Moroccan mint tea with green tea leaves and dried lemongrass (harvested one year only from my garden) and a light floral tea with lemon balm (related to the mints), lavender, and rose-scented geranium. I've dried some to infuse sugar, which then found its way into strawberry jam and on top of fresh peaches. I haven't tried using it in savory dishes, though I suspect that's only a matter of time.

To help myself make more extensive use of this wonderful herb, then, I sat out in the refreshingly hot sun today to pick mint for drying. Lots of mint.

I want to make sure that I have plenty of mint to carry me through next winter, so that I can enjoy its bright, sunny flavor on the darkest days of the year.

And while this mint dries, I'll be sure to use plenty of fresh mint now.


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