Mint, or Mentha (from the Greek mintha) is a genus of plants in the Lamiaceae family with at last 24 existing species, each one difficult to distinguish from the other. There are also many known mint hybrids and cultivars. Mint is found in Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, and North America and they can grow in many different environments. Mints can spread over a wide area which is why it is also considered invasive in some cases.
The color of mint foliage varies; dark green, blue, purple, and pale yellow. Its flowers are either white or purple in color. It can grow up to 120cm.
Type Species: Mentha spicata
- Ancient Greeks and Romans put mint leaves in their baths
- The Mexican term for mint is yerba bueno which means good herb.
- Minthe, from whom the term mint originated, is a character in Greek mythology
Mint Buying Guide
Mint is available in markets and stores all year round, but not all varieties and types of mints are commonly sold. If you buy mint leaves in the market, there is a high probability it could be one of the select few common mints preferred for commercial cultivation.
- Peppermint (Mentha × piperita)
- Native spearmint (Mentha spicata)
- Scotch spearmint (Mentha x gracilis)
- Cornmint (Mentha arvensis)
- Apple mint (Mentha suaveolens)
You can buy potted mint, freshly-cut mint leaves, dried mint leaves, and powdered mint. If you are ordering online, it is possible the freshly-cut mint leaves do not appear as fresh despite the promise of next-day delivery.
If you are buying at a farmers market offering to refill your spice container, bring your spice jar or sealable bottle and ask the vendor to refill it with your desired quantity. This way, you do not use single-use plastic during purchase.
Spot a fresh bunch of mint in the market by inspecting the color of the leaves. It should have a vibrant color and looks clean overall. Smell it also. The aroma of mint should be enough to indicate whether it is fresh or if it has been in the display for too long. If the mint leaves have wilted stalks and bruised or broken leaves, do not buy it.
Do not worry if you are unsure which of the herbs is mint because products on display in the produce section often have a label or a name tag so that you don’t confuse it with other herbs. Buy just enough for use.
Mint Production & Farming in Texas
Texas is not known for its mint production, but many growers, gardeners, and enthusiasts here plant mints. It is ideal for cultivating mint if the soil is loamy with a neutral pH of 6.0 to 7.0. Mints grow best when the soil is moist, which means they grow best when they are planted near pools of water, or beside lakes or rivers, or somewhere with a long rainy season. It is ideal to always monitor how fast and how far the mint plant is spreading because if left unchecked, they can easily overrun a garden and be a threat to other plants there.
Mint plants are susceptible to whitefly and aphids. Against aphids, you can try introducing or attracting lady beetles or wasps which feed on aphids. You can also wash away aphids using a strong spray of water or mix insecticidal soap in it. This will also rid the plant of other pests such as spider mites and whitefly.
- Rotenone – an odorless, colorless, broad-spectrum insecticide, piscicide, and pesticide used against aphids, thrips, and other soft-bodied sucking insects.
- Malathion – an organophosphate insecticide which acts as an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor, used to fight aphids.
- Boscalid – a fungicide that is nontoxic to terrestrial animals and is moderately toxic to aquatic animals.
- Chlorpyrifos – an organophosphate pesticide that kills insects and worms.
- Dimethoate – an insecticide used to kill mites and other insects.
- Indoxacarb – an oxadiazine pesticide that targets the lepidopteran larvae.
The United States is the biggest producer of mint. More than 70% of the world’s supply of peppermint and spearmint comes from. Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Indiana, California, Wisconsin, and Michigan. India and China are also major producers of mint.
You can buy fresh mint leaves sold in a plastic clamshell container which allows you to see the condition of the leaves inside. Some manufacturers use sealed, polythene bags to keep mint fresh. Dried mint and powdered mint are sold in bottles.
Mint adds a warm and fresh flavor to food and a cool aftertaste which is why mint has been extensively used in food and cooking.
You can put freshly-cut mint leaves in the refrigerator. You can also freeze it. Another option for storing mint is by drying the leaves.
Put mint leaves inside a plastic bag and put the plastic bag inside the refrigerator. Or wrap it in a paper cloth or towel and put it inside the refrigerator to extend the freshness of the mint leaves. This will keep the mint leaves fresh for at least 10 to 14 days.
To freeze, put the mint leaves in an ice tray, fill it with water, and freeze. This will keep the leaves fresh and flavorful for a year, but only if the ice cubes remain frozen at all times. If the refrigerator temperature is not consistent, the mint leaves may turn soft or soggy. It is best not to use these.
To dry mint leaves, spread these out on a drying screen and then place this in a warm, dry room to allow it to completely dry. Make sure to turn the leaves every two days to make sure these dry out evenly. You’ll know these are completely dry when they turn brittle.
Putting mint leaves in a jar or bottle will preserve the aroma and taste of the dried and ground mint for several months. Place it in a cool, dry place away from sunlight.
The Middle Eastern cooking of lamb makes use of mint. Indian cuisine makes use of mint to flavor curries. The Touareg tea of North Africa and Arab countries is prepared using mint. Mint tea is a popular flavor of tea sold around the world. Alcoholic drinks also use mint. Some examples are mint julep and mojito. A mint-flavored liqueur is used for cocktail drinks like the grasshopper. Mint is often paired with chocolate, which is why there are mint-flavored chocolates, candies, and other dessert treats.
Mint is not commonly consumed in large quantities as you would other herbs or vegetables; nonetheless, mint leaves are rich in nutrients. Mint contains vitamin A which helps improve eye health and vision.
- Calcium: 243.00mg
- Iron: 5.08mg
- Sodium: 31mg
- Potassium: 569mg
Mint is a beneficial herb. It can help with digestive problems like indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Mint also helps boost our brain function. It is used to alleviate cold as well as a useful remedy for curing bad breath.
When Are Mint in Season in Texas?
To find out when Mint are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.