“When all is complete deep in the teapot, when tea, mint, and sugar have completely diffused throughout the water, coloring and saturating it…then a glass will be filled and poured back into the mixture, blending it further. Then comes waiting. Motionless waiting. Finally, from high up, like some green cataract whose sight and sound mesmerize, the tea will once again cascade into a glass. Now it can be drunk, dreamily, forehead bowed, fingers held wide away from the scalding glass.”
- Simone Jacquemard, Le Mariage Berbere
The diversity of mint
Mint is a hardy perennial herb that never entirely dies during the winter and is the first of all perennial herbs to return in the Spring. In the garden mint takes over empty space at an impressive rate. Ideally it requires a dedicated space of its own – confinement and isolation are the best ways to manage sprawling and crowding of surrounding plants.
As an essential ingredient, mint is the star in dozens of recipes, sweet and savory. Crushed mint gives the mint julep its refreshingly distinctive flavor. Tabbouleh, a Middle eastern salad made with couscous or bulgur, is delicious with tons of garlic and lemon juice, but not quite the same without a large dose of chopped mint. Whether it’s mint jelly or mint in the marinade, lamb is rarely served without its herbal companion (look for locally prepared mint jelly from Beth’s Farm Kitchen).
As an herbal remedy mint is thought to settle an upset stomach and to alleviate the pressure of headaches. A cup of mint tea before bedtime can be calming, acting as a mild sedative. The menthol properties of mint make it especially soothing as a treatment for burns and as an aid in the relief of congestion.
Simple mint recipe ideas
Mint is easy to dry. Clip clusters of mint with scissors and dry them on a newspaper in a cool dark place, like the basement. Steep the dried mint sprigs in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, then strain.
Mint simple syrup
Bring one cup of water and one cup of sugar to a boil. Add one sprig of mint and let steep for 20 minutes. Remove the mint sprig and strain the syrup. Use the syrup to sweeten iced tea, to macerate summer berries or as a garnish for desserts.
Mint can be used to make pesto the same way that basil is. Blanch the mint leaves in boiling water first before making the pesto. Mint pesto is a perfect marinade or rub for any lamb roast.
Feta and tomato salad
Toss heirloom cherry tomatoes with cubed feta, olive oil, cracked black pepper, a dash of red wine vinegar, chopped garlic, and chopped mint.
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