Monday, June 21, 2010

What To Do With Mint

I offer three ideas.  Then, I'd very much like to hear yours.

1) Make tea.  Either dry your leaves and crush them to use this fall or winter OR make a cold mint tea by pouring boiling water over tea leaves and letting them steep for several hours, then add more water and sugar to taste.  (I will be experimenting with stevia in mint tea later this week.  I hope.)

2) Make mint tea concentrate and freeze it so you can drink mint tea in the fall and winter if you like.  Here's how you do it...

Mint Tea Concentrate (recipe from Janice Wyble via my mom)

1 quart water
1 cup sugar (1 cup is pretty sweet- we prefer 3/4 cup)
3 cups packed fresh tea leaves, rinsed well

Place water and tea leaves in a pot and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and let steep overnight.  Remove leaves, using a sieve.  Add sugar and stir until it is dissolved.  This is your concentrate- you will end up with about a quart.  Pour into pint-sized freezer containers and freeze.

When you're ready to make tea, add three pints of water to one pint of thawed concentrate to make 2 quarts of tea. Or, use half a pint of concentrate and 1 1/2 pints water to make 1 quart of tea.


3) Make Mint Jelly.  A very intelligent reader named Judi, asked me if I had ever made mint jelly. I wondered what was wrong with me because I hadn't.  I changed that and this is now my most favorite recommendation seeing as I just made some last week and am totally in love with it.  I tasted it (to make sure I did everything right) and it transported me outside into my mint bed in the blink of an eye.  To think that I can experience this in the middle of winter makes me giddy with excitement.

It's so very different than the store bought mint jelly I've had before.  My mom used to make a Christmas cookie that had a tiny dollop of mint jelly on the top of each one.  They were called Thumbprint Cookies.  You roll the cookie dough into a ball and then roll it in nuts.  Using your thumb, you press an indentation into the top of the ball and fill it with mint jelly.  They were delicious the way they were, but with the real stuff?  Oh, my.

Also, just look at the jelly.  It's so pretty.  I am hoping to make another batch soon and will be passing it out as thank you gifts in the year to come.  If you don't like mint jelly, please tell me if I hand you a jar.  You may break my heart, but it would hurt my heart worse if I knew this lovely green confection was going to go to waste.

Mint jelly is often paired with lamb.  We don't eat lamb.  We do eat fresh rolls with jelly when we have company and the kids eat PB&J (and love it with mint jelly).  Another great use for it is if you need to take an appetizer somewhere.  Buy a block of cream cheese (the fuller the fat, the creamier, which in this case is the better).  Place the entire block on a large plate, top with a generous amount of mint jelly and surround the block with crackers.  Friends can dip right in with a cracker or spoon some on their plate.  It's very easy and very delicious.

Mint Jelly ( The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving)
I figured if I was going to give you the exact instructions, I might as well take a picture of the instructions instead of retyping them all.  Follow them to the letter with one exception.  I doubled the recipe (you can see my markings) and only used 3 drops of green food coloring (total) to achieve the color you see.  I'm not a fan of food coloring, but 3 drops amidst the 10 half-pints didn't freak me out and made the color lovely.

This is another great opportunity to get the kids involved.  Chopping mint leaves with a knife can be tricky, but cutting them with kitchen shears is a cinch.




Instructions continue below. Please ignore my pencil markings, unless you, too, are making a double batch.




Isn't it beautiful?  Okay.  I know I'm being a bit ridiculous here, but I can't stop looking at these jars.


Now, what do YOU do with your mint?  I am waiting with bated {minty} breath. Pin It

32 comments:

  1. I agree, the jars are very pretty!! It's making me wish that I had grown mint this year. Will have to try for next year and try out some of your wonderful ideas.

    Have a great day!

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  2. I do those things, too, but my tea concentrate is done differently. I bring a gallon of water and 2.75 pounds of sugar to a boil. Pour it over a fairly packed half bushel of tea (stems and all). I use a 12 quart pot to do this. Submerge all the tea and let sit about 12 hours. Strain and freeze in 1.5 cup portions. 1.5 cups of concentrate makes 2 quarts of tea. This is our favorite cold beverage to drink.

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  3. i am not the canning queen by any means, so take this with a grain of salt (or sugar!) - but my grandmother would put jalapenos in her mint jelly and it was the perfect combination of sweet with a kick - and we used THAT combo with cream cheese and crackers at parties. She has stopped making jelly now, and i guess i'm going to have to learn this recipe - if you have ANY idea of how to do it - i'm all ears - i have zero clue on when or how to add the peppers.

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  4. I always grow mint. My favorite uses are for making tea and my favorite salad, tabbouleh. I made mint jelly last year because I didn't want my precious mint to go to waste. I've yet to use a jar of it because we don't eat lamb, either. I had no idea what else to use it for. Thanks for the ideas!

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  5. This sounds lovely...Thanks for the jelly idea! We have a huge patch by our backdoor hoping to help ward off mosquitoes and flies, but I've never harvested any...I need to now!

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  6. Sheri,
    I searched for jalapeno mint jelly and a number of recipes came up- I'm not sure what to recommend because I've never tried them. Maybe you could start there. If you find one that you like, please let me know- I'd love to give it a try:-).

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  7. Excellent ideas for using mint. We try to have some in our daily salads as it is, among other things, supposed to be good for digestion. That, and it adds a nice flavor.

    We also hope to try making a mint/thyme cough syrup I recently read about this winter - To make cough syrup, make a tea with 1 pint water, and 4 ounces dried thyme and 1 ounce dried mint. Steep for 20 minutes. Strain into a pan, then add a cup of honey or sugar to the tea water. Heat slowly over low heat, stirring constantly until syrup thickens.

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  8. Oh, how I adore mint!! I have to limit how much I consume now because it's terrible for acid reflux, but I still use it when I can. I had totally forgotten about mint jelly - we grew up with it. That and mint in our ice tea, garnished on cheesecakes and other desserts, and of course a non-alcoholic mint julep (all very southern of course!). When I moved out west, I was so desperate for mint, I planted it right in my flower bed. My husband kept telling me, I'd be sorry because it would invade everything, but I stubbornly told him I didn't care. I wanted MINT! Two years later, I was very sorry I hadn't planted it in a container. It not only invade the bed, it was impossible to rip out! Mint has unbelievable runners that form a mass web of roots. So, the lesson to learn... plant it where it will be well contained!! And then enjoy!

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  9. It's gorgeous...and would be beautiful as a gift for the holidays with a big red bow!

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  10. We love lamb, but not with storebought mint jelly :) So maybe I should make my own.

    We adore mint tea in the summer, but the one time I made tea concentrate, it felt anachronistic drinking it in the dead of winter.

    I put mint in salads of all kinds, especially anything Asian or Middle Eastern. And it's the only thing the kids are allowed to pick and eat in the yard because it's so prolific (there's not a lot of edibles in our yard).

    Your jelly is so pretty - beautifully photographed too !

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  11. I have to second the mint-in-salads idea. It sounds weird, but it tastes delicious!

    And of course a sprig in my water glass to fancify it. ;)

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  12. mmm, i love mint...i don't have any planted, but if i did, i'd probably just sniff it... :) but the mint tea is a great idea... :)

    now, if we're talking herbs, i am wondering...what are uses of bee balm? I planted it...but i'm not sure what to do with it... :)

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  13. The Rakows, I don't know anything about bee balm. Not even after I looked it up in my trusty food dictionary- it wasn't there. This made sense after reading up on wikipedia about it- it's more of a medicinal plant from what I can tell. You're in luck if anyone in your house suffers from excessive flatulence, though:-). Here's the wiki link. Anyone else want to weigh in?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monarda

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  14. I do like Mint tea, but not mint jelly, I use Spearmint leaves with milk as a poltice too for boils or insect bug infection, great drawing the poison out of it, hugs my friend.

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  15. I like to add a few FRESH mint leaves to lemonade! Also good fresh in iced tea. Or just to touch so I can smell it on my hands! :)

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  16. I love mint jelly and never thought of making my own until seeing this post. Thank you so much!!! Looks delish.

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  17. http://www.herbcompanion.com/cooking/gardening/many-mints-recipes-and-growing-tips-for-mint.aspx?utm_content=06.29.10+HBC&utm_campaign=Newsletter&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email

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  18. Did you use food coloring in your jelly?

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  19. Jodi,
    Yes, I believe for this batch I used one or two drops- a little went a long way:-).

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  20. Sorry... One other question. We have oodles and oodles of apple mint. Does the type of mint make a difference?

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  21. Jodi,
    I don't see why the the type of mint would matter- you'll just have apple mint jelly and that sounds wonderful:-).

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  22. I have a delicious mint growing in our yard which I've been making YUMMY tea with. Now, I'm going to try your tea concentrate suggestion! I also planted some apple mint which is supposed to make a great tea and its already spreading fast. As soon as I get a chance, I'm going to make some mint jelly (I already bought the pectin for it)! Thanks for sharing.

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  23. I add mint and touch of butter to boiled carrots. They're delicious. Since I'm from the south, of course we add it to our iced tea! My husband's favorite is to crush the mint with the mortar and pestle, add some simple syrup, bourbon and ice and serve in a sterling silver mint julep. The mint is coming out just in time for the Kentucky Derby on the first weekend in May, and our mint gets christened THEN!

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  24. Sweetened mint tea is the national beverage of Morocco, and it is served hot at every social occasion. Normally there is twice as much sugar as you use.It has its charms, but I prefer my mint tea unsweetened. It has a calming effect, and the room smells great.

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  25. A very nice blog. Thank you for sharing so many good things including your faith. This is something we do with mint, Mint Garlic Tomato Sauce: http://sowthis.blogspot.com/2012/08/tomato-mint-garlic-sauce.html
    I won't vouch for the canning details - I was trying to get some advice on the canning safety for it. But it is very good fresh or frozen too. Until this year we always just made it up fresh. The tomatoes were cooked, but not the mint or garlic.

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  26. I planted peppermint last year and it's doing nicely so I tried brewing some for iced tea. I used the stems and leaves....next time I'll just use leaves....it had a kerosene type smell and I was afraid to drink it. Do you know is this normal...maybe I didn't steep it long enough. I'm gonna try your tea concentrate next time and see how it does. I'm hoping my ground isn't contaminated. Thank's for your help. Jan

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    1. Jan, Goodness. I'm so sorry- that's so strange. Yes, I would try it again with out the stems. Changing up the steep time may a bit may help, too. Good luck to you- kerosene tea does not sound (or taste- I'm sure!) very appetizing! :-(

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  27. For the tea concentrate are the leaves fresh or dried?

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    1. Sorry I didn't mention that above- I'll add that this uses fresh leaves.

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  28. Another great idea for mint - mice do not like mint, which is why you often saw it planted near the old farm houses. I saturate cotton balls with mint oil and place in the garden shed, garage cupboards, and I also use a ball of it to run along the baseboards when I have problems with ants.
    To refresh: Add to iced tea or iced water - so refreshing!
    To relax: Mint sachets are nice in a tub of hot water when you need to revive yourself.
    For headaches: Make a tea with mint for headaches and upset stomachs. (Was great when I was pregnant.) Also, use mint oil on a night light bulb and lay down in dark room to help relieve headaches. The mint will help to open the sinuses and relieve your headache. Place your neck on a pillow roll with ice pack under the neck with head tilted back - relieves the shoulder tension while you're lying there, and helps the headache.

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  29. You can add a teaspoon or two to frostings, milk shakes or hot chocolate for added flavor. Especially nice during the holidays - add a candy cane to the minted hot chocolate or milk shake & garnish with fresh mint; use minted frosting between chocolate cookies or frost chocolate cake with minted frosting and sprinkle with a few mint leaves. You can also sweeten your tea with the mint jelly - helps to settle stomach after heavy meal.

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  30. Set a bouquet of this on the picnic table along with basil - mosquitoes won't be as bothersome!

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