It’s time for a reader’s question:
Dear Frugal Upstate,
We have a good sized patch of mint that my husband is determined to mow down. It seems like such a waste–I’d rather pick it and put it to use before he mows, but I’m not really sure what to do with it. How can I use up mint?
Thanks for your help,
Ahh, mint is wonderful plant, but it can be a nuisance unless well corralled in a pot. Even then it has a habit of jumping it’s boundaries and spreading! This vigorous, weed like grower will spread and spread and spread both by the seeds and from the roots. I can easily imagine some escaped confinement and happily colonizing a large patch in your yard. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of great ways to use mint! I’m sure we will come up with at least one or two that you would like to try.
Mint is a very versatile plant can be used fresh in recipes as an herb, easily dried for later use, can be tinctured in alcohol for extract and even preserved in jelly.
Probably the most classic use of mint is as a tea. You just dry the plant and use it for tea. Mint tea is tasty and soothing to an upset or overfed stomach and can be drunk hot or iced. I enjoy it hot with sugar but no milk. (milk in tea–ugh!) You can use fresh mint or home dried mint to make tea. I keep my dried mint in a tightly sealed mason jar in the cupboard, and I have a Tea Ball you can put the herb in in order to steep. My favorite way to brew teas easily though is my special brewing tea cup. It’s an over the cup tea diffuser–which means you put the loose tea in it, add the water, let it steep, then when it’s ready you set the whole thing on top of a cup and the tea dispenses down into the cup. I have heard that some folks like the re-usable tea bags made from cloth, or to make their own tea bags from coffee filters and a staple, but I haven’t tried either of those.
In cooking mint can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.
On the sweet side you could try making homemade mint extract for baking or homemade simple syrup made with regular or chocolate mint. You can candy mint leaves and use them as a decorative accent
Mint is used in savory recipes around the mediteranian and middle east–think cooling Ratia from India (the mint and yogurt condiment) or Tzatziki from Greece. My sister taught me a old fashioned way to use mint–adding a bit chopped up to peas with a bit of salt pepper and butter as a side dish.
Of course mint jelly is a classic with lamb (although to be honest I’ve never quite gotten that whole thing).
If you want to move away from the food uses, mint has been used medicinally for hundreds of years. Mint is used as a home remedy for various stomach troubles (indigestion, flatulence, naseua) and to help with headaches and fevers. Peppermint has quite a few medicinal uses, and can also be used to deter ants, keep away mosquitos and stop itching.
Here are a few other great ideas for fresh mint!