52 Ingredients: Mint
Posted on April 1, 2014
A brief history of how mint was born: Greek mythology says that Pluto, the ruler of the underworld, once fell in love with a beautiful maiden named Menthe. This didn’t sit well with Persephone, who wasn’t just the queen of the underworld, but also Pluto’s wife. Persephone, in a fit of jealous rage, turned Menthe into a plant to be stomped upon for the rest of eternity. Pluto was able to soften the blow by placing a sweet smell upon Menthe which would give the air a pleasing scent whenever someone stepped on her leaves. [Source]
And that’s how Mint came into existence, according to the Ancient Greeks.
What’s Mint Got To Do With It?
Not to discredit the Greeks (they gave us modern mathematics, after all), but most scientists say this tingly herb originated from the Mediterranean and Western Asia. Since then, humanity has used mint as a culinary additive and a medicinal herb. It’s interesting to note that menthol, the oil found within the leaves, is what gives mint its signature tingle.
And when you mention mint, you’re actually referring to multiple species that originate from the genus Mentha. This number varies from 13 to 18, depending on which botanist you ask—this is because a number of hybrids occur naturally, and the scientific community is at odds over how to classify them. After all, what is peppermint but a second-hand hybrid of Mentha aquatic and Mentha spicata?
I’m no expert—but from a culinary point of view, I’d classify all of them as delicious.
What Can Mint Do For Me?
Mint adds refreshing crispness to lemonade on a hot summer’s day and provides a tingle of fresh breath after a meal, but the benefits don’t end there.
You could add mint to every dish all summer long and the only side effect would be great flavor, as it only packs 1 calorie per tablespoon. Vitamin C is also present in this fresh plant that greatly benefits your immune system.
As it turns out, Mint also threw a mineral party and invited magnesium, potassium, calcium and iron so you would have strong bones and healthy blood. [Source]
Cooking with Mint
Nothing embodies the freshness of spring and summer like fresh mint. And now that you’ve worked up an appetite, these 5 recipes will be more than helpful in shaking up your home menu.