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Jul 11, 2005 06:22 PM

A Garden full of Mint

  • l

My Swiss Ricola mint (peppermint?) herbs have taken over one entire area of my garden and I have a chest high thicket of them to deal with now.

Any suggestions or recipes on how to use them before I start whacking away at them?

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  1. Mint jelly, dry it for mint teas, start making a lot of salads where torn mint leaves are a nice herb and fresh and summery tasting. A lot of Vietnamese recipes want mint as an herb.

    About whacking away at it, that does not work well. You really need to dig it out and it may take a couple of years to get it all out. If yo what at it or try to till it under it will just spread more. You need to get a large bucket and punch some holes in the bottom and then sink that in the ground with the rim an inch or so above ground. Plant your mint in that and it will keep the roots from spreading and invading the rest of the garden. The same goes for horseradish too and tansy. Lime Balm smells good too but is also quite invasive. I planted one plant 9-10 years ago. I am still pulling it out like crazy every summer and can never get rid of it all. Maybe it is related to kudzu?????

    1. Of course mojitos come to mind immediately. A few of those and you won't care much about having too much mint! Since you have to use a lot, I'd suggest preserving some of it in mint jelly or mint syrup. I think it was in Robert Arbor's book Joie de Vivre that I read a recipe for mint syrup used for making drinks or just adding to sparkling water for mint soda. If you can't find the book (I don't have it), just steep mint with sugar and water, strain and keep refrigerated or freeze.

      Patricia Well's Mint-Infused Fresh Cheese, from The Provence Cookbook, is fantastic. Mix 1 cup (homemade or not) ricotta with 1 cup finely chopped mint. I also add cracked pepper and spread it on toast and serve with salad. She suggests stuffing zucchini blossoms with it.

      And, dry some for tea in winter.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Junie D

        I use a mint simple syrup for mojitos and ice tea all the time. Love it, then only need to add mint leaves as a garnish after I muddle the limes and simple syrup together. No more pieces of mint in the teeth when you have mojitos. Mint is also great in a fruit salad. It took me years to get out mint that was planted in the garden, now I just put it in a large pot on my deck and it provides plenty for summer use.

      2. Mix up a silver pitcher full of icy mint juleps and a glass pitcher full of mojitos and then call in the neighbors to help you dig up the mint by the roots. You can then repot however much you want in a gigantic and lovely glazed piece of pottery (or any other container that will help keep the mint confined), and divide up the rest and send it home with the now tipsy neighbors - that is if they are inebriated enough to take it.

        I have learned through painful experience that whacking at mint, even at the base of the plant, just serves as a growth incentive and the stuff becomes Medusa incarnate.

        Other uses for mint? I keep mint in my garden for tabouli salads, minced over fresh fruit, and to spruce up fresh lemonade, hot or cold tea or the occasional alcoholic beverage. The link has recipes that are little more exotic - not that I have ever tried making Lobster Mango Rolls, but I have included minced mint as an ingredient for Vietnamese spring rolls.

        Given its wide variety of uses, mint sounds like such a civilized little herb, and it really is a weed extraordinaire. I have no doubt that mint will still be here long after all the rest of us are distant memories!


        1 Reply
        1. re: Olympia Jane

          Hilarious! I learned the hard way also. I have one beautiful pot of luscious mint on my patio right now that will last all season and beyond. I have more than I could ever use in a year.

        2. As others stated- you have to dig them up and they have persistent runners. When I have an herb like this out of control but really lovely an pungent I like to make an oil for future memories (slowly heat at super low temp huge handfuls in your oil of choice- dip bread occasionally to see how the flavor is- strain and store in icebox)- think of mint oil in dressings, over veggies, etc.. Also explore it fresh and just torn in summer salads like chicken and veggies (carrots love mint). You have so much that you can just play with it.

          1. I have just discovered mojitos and I am in love. It's the perfect summer drink. As unbelievable as it might sound, I have been having trouble getting a mint patch established. I can't explain why - I just didn't seem to ever keep it alive long enough for it to become a pest. Finally have a pretty healthy plant going in a pot and another one just started in a second pot. I'm planning a LOT of mojitos in my future.

            5 Replies
            1. re: Nyleve

              mint needs alot of water to flourish
              good luck with your cocktail garden!

              1. re: pitu

                Yes, you're right. And I'm sure that must have been the problem. I wanted to start a patch beside (but not in) my veggie garden. But I didn't bother to water it. It fizzled. Stupidly enough There are TONS (and I really mean TONS) of wild mint growing beside the little creek running through our property. It has a slightly less delicate flavour, so I don't use it much. But now that I have discovered mojitos, I may just have to try a Wild Mojito.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  Wow! Are you in the south somewhere? Take advantage of all that wild mint with a traditional mint julep! Pick it early in the morning before the little bugs set up shop for the day on the leaves.

                  1. re: petradish

                    HA HA HA HA HA! I'm in Ontario, Canada. Although, I have to admit, this summer it feels like the deepest south. Wild mint is extremely hardy and flourishes in soggy places. There appear to be several different kinds growing in various swamps. One spot has very tall spiky mint that tastes a spearminty, but the stuff closest to my house has a really wild taste (and reddish stems).

                    Right. I'll pick when I walk the dog in the a.m.

                    1. re: Nyleve

                      O(h) Canada! I got caught up in a Kentucky drinking fantasy there for a moment. :-) Lucky you to have different mints!

                      Once while camping we found wild mint by a stream in the eastern Sierras and it felt like we'd discovered gold! Luckily somebody remembered to pack bourbon...