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Best culinary mint (for mojitos, really)

a
AnneInMpls May 26, 2006 02:53 PM

Are there any cook-gardeners who can advise me on what kind of mint to plant for my summer mojitos? Which mint would give me that classic mint taste?

I'll probably be making a few Vietnamese summer rolls, too (although we call them "spring rolls" here in the land of ice and snow - go figure!) But I'll need a different kind of mint for Vietnamese food, right?

And if I find something exotic and tasty, I might even make a mint-fruit sorbet. Any suggestions for a mint and for the fruit to go with it?

There are so many mints to choose from: Candy mint, Banana mint, Chocolate mint, Grapefruit mint, Apple mint, Orange mint, Lavender mint, Peppermint, Scotch mint, Lebanese mint, Spearmint, Blue Balsam mint, .... (That's only half the list in my plant catalog!)

Please help me choose a few good "cooking mints" for my garden!

Thanks,
Anne

  1. k
    Karl S May 26, 2006 03:12 PM

    You need only concern yourself with two:

    Spearmint (used mostly in savory preparations and in beverages like mint julep)

    Peppermint (used mostly in sweet preparations; it is less complex, more pungent and more cooling than spearmint due to differences in essential oils)

    Unlike many herbs that like relatively dry conditions, mint loves moisture. Unless you contain the roots (and their runners) well, it will become invasive in many US climates. Be brutal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Karl S
      k
      Karl S May 26, 2006 03:56 PM

      I should also note that peppermint's essential oils act as a perfect digestif because they anaesthetize the stomach lining. That's why we have after-dinner mints. Before there was Priloce and Zantec, there was peppermint. It really works well for that purpose.

    2. f
      foodiex2 May 26, 2006 03:28 PM

      I can't live w/o my ginger mint. Great in lemonade, ice tea, make a refreshing granita.

      Personally I prefer peppermint for mojitos but my husband think spearmint is more "traditional" but only because that is what they used when we were in Miami.

      I grow ginger mint, peppermint, spearmint and lemon mint (not a fan of the lemon, it is kind of fake tasting but its is like a weed and I can't seem to get rid of it!!)

      1 Reply
      1. re: foodiex2
        p
        phoenikia Aug 21, 2010 03:16 PM

        I haven't found a good way to use lemon mint, either!

      2. c
        Candy May 26, 2006 03:40 PM

        I really love my Chocolate Mint, ithas good depth of flavor.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Candy
          a
          Aaron May 26, 2006 03:54 PM

          Second that one.

          1. re: Candy
            m
            Mestralle Aug 20, 2010 04:08 AM

            Another vote for the chocolate mint. I also like English mint. I planted both this year on either side of our patio this year (didn't want to choke the garden). Unfortunately, our lawn guys took a weed whacker to both of them.

          2. p
            petradish May 26, 2006 04:40 PM

            I've seen the classic Cuban mojito mint referred to as Mentha nemorosa. Perhaps you could track it down in your catalog? Most people in the US substitute the sweet tasting spearmint as peppermint *can* be overbearingly hot and menthol flavored.

            When you pick your mint, do so in the early morning before the little bugs attach themselves to the plant. :-)

            1. f
              Fois gras fan May 27, 2006 12:52 PM

              I'd love a good recipe for mojitos...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Fois gras fan
                c
                christof Aug 19, 2010 05:51 PM

                Basic Mojito Recipe:

                2 Parts white rum
                .5 part triple sec (only if desired)
                .5 simple syrup
                Muddle or Smack 3-4 mint leaves per cup (If muddle please do so lightly and don' t make a huge mashup of everything; it'll let the harshness of the mint get out)
                Juice from 1 lime
                .
                1. Muddle or Smack mint into cup
                2. Juice the lime
                3. Add the alcohol & simple syrup (typical drink is 2 shots rum, .5 shotish simple syrup)
                4. Add ice and Shake it!
                5. Finish the top off with a mint spring and some soda water on top

                Mojito! You can mod this recipe easily for puree's; just don't add so much simple syrup. Also I've found that a bit of St Germaine and Mango Puree make an AWESOME mango mojito

              2. l
                Leslie May 27, 2006 03:30 PM

                For a recipe, try the website www.bacardimojito.com and make sure you turn up the speakers on your computer!! Puts me in the mood for one.

                1. c
                  chittachef May 28, 2006 08:56 AM

                  I've never had an authentic Cuban miojito experience, but I've consumed a multitude of sublime mojitos in the Mexican Yucatan. The mint species they use is hierba buena. The stems of the hierba buena are thin-skinned and tender,a luminous pale green in color reminiscent of a pea shoot stem, and contain so much minty juice that the stems always go into the muddle along with the leaves, which are on the small side.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: chittachef
                    b
                    butterfly May 28, 2006 09:39 AM

                    Hierbabuena is peppermint. Check out the link below to see different varieties. My favorite is the third from the right m. spicata. There is also a link to Vietnamese mint, which isn't really mint...

                    Link: http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/M...

                    1. re: butterfly
                      a
                      AnneInMpls May 30, 2006 06:57 PM

                      Wow, the Spice Pages is a great site. Thanks for the link!

                      And thanks to all for the mint advice. I think I'll get Peppermint and Chocolate mint for my mojitos, and some Vietnamese mint, if I can find it, for the spring rolls.

                      And I discovered some long-forgotten Ginger mint in my garden; as I recall, it's pretty good in iced tea.

                      Thanks,
                      Anne

                      1. re: butterfly
                        chefj Apr 23, 2012 06:55 PM

                        Looks like Wiki disagrees http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yerba_buena More confusion http://gospain.about.com/od/fooddrink...

                    2. j
                      jvanderh Aug 19, 2010 09:36 AM

                      I got some of the 'mohito mint' and it really does make a great mohito. It smells like candy, so I wouldn't use it for anything savory, but I quite like it.

                      1. bushwickgirl Aug 20, 2010 07:41 AM

                        Wooly apple mint, mentha suaveolens, seems to be the mojito mint variety but the original is a hybrid indigenous to Cuba. Apple mint is less minty than others with just a hint of apple:

                        http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcS66lynUq8Uf1T6AMqV2lgGIGvsGYCxdyp35tofAXybffNobss&t=1&usg=__gHYcQntX4tCNtvYfTjaaPaP0gCI=

                        I like pineapple mint, also less minty than spearmint and not as sweet as peppermint:

                        http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:AN...

                        9 Replies
                        1. re: bushwickgirl
                          j
                          jvanderh Aug 21, 2010 11:14 AM

                          Mine says mentha x. villosa. I remember when reading about mohito mint that there seemed to be some disagreement about which variety was the real mohito mint-- and a lot of people who thought that most mohitos in Cuba are made with just regular peppermint. Hard to say!

                          1. re: jvanderh
                            bushwickgirl Sep 29, 2010 04:26 AM

                            I've seen that mentha x. villosa reference also as 'the' mojito mint, and tried to get some info and a photo of it, but only found vague references, and there's seemingly some confusion as to what that mint is, aside from a general cultivar. Barring a trip to Cuba in search of the elusive mint variety, I think it boils down to just using your fav. Enjoy!

                            1. re: bushwickgirl
                              j
                              jvanderh Sep 29, 2010 08:32 AM

                              I also found confusion and mystery, which made me really want some :-). I think I had found one American importer, who was out of stock. I forgot about it, then found it being sold by the Amish at a farmer's market at work! I asked where they got it, but the people running the booth had no idea. Just holler if you want me to mail you a little chunk of root-- the stuff seems to regenerate like a weed.

                              1. re: bushwickgirl
                                Veggo Sep 29, 2010 09:20 AM

                                I have had more than a few mojitos at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, and the mint they use closely resembles our spearmint. A barkeep there did say that their particular mint only grows in Cuba. I'm not sure how he knows that because he can't go anywhere else.

                                1. re: Veggo
                                  BiscuitBoy Sep 29, 2010 11:18 AM

                                  For real? When were you in Cuba last? Do they make their own rum?

                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                    Veggo Sep 29, 2010 11:44 AM

                                    First trip was sailing to Marina Hemingway in 1987, 3 trips were by air from Cancun to Jose Marti airport when I was living in PDC, most recent was in '04. Havana Club rum is awesome. They make a blanco (the standard in mojitos there), and various anejos and reservas. It can be purchased in Canada, Mexico, and Turks & Caicos, at a minimum. Their 3 year pale yellow is the best rum I have ever had, but it may have been discontinued as I have not seen it anywhere for several years.

                                    1. re: Veggo
                                      c
                                      catlady27 Apr 23, 2012 05:03 PM

                                      Hi: Just read your post and wanted to make sure you know there is a recent book, Hemingway's Boat, by Paul Hendrickson. If you are at all interested in his time in Cuba and his life and his boat, this is a quite wonderful book.
                                      Also, just FYI, there's a branch of La B del M in Puerto Vallarta, where I've enjoyed more than a few mojitos, and some terrific music. And yes, the Havana Club rum is awesome!

                                      1. re: catlady27
                                        Veggo Apr 23, 2012 05:57 PM

                                        Thanks, catlady. I read a couple reviews and just ordered the book on amazon. I'm a Papa fan, having done the whole 'drive an ambulance in a spanish speaking country' thing. A La Bodeguita del Medio "branch" in PV? That's funny. Funny because Cuba doesn't acknowledge international trademark conventions, and it backfires when famous cuban brands (Havana Club, Cohiba, and now La B del M) are used by others with no association or permission. I toast to Papa when I'm in Ketchum, with a mojito, naturally.

                                      2. re: Veggo
                                        greedygirl Apr 24, 2012 04:47 AM

                                        You can still get the 3-year-old Havana Club - we went to Cuba last month and I've got a bottle at home waiting for me to make Mojitos. It was incredibly cheap - the equivalent of around $5.

                                        None of the bars I went to used sugar syrup, btw. They just muddled mint and sugar, added lime, rum and sparkling water. Delicious - but too easy to drink - I had the worst hangover on the day we left Havana!

                            2. BiscuitBoy Sep 29, 2010 09:12 AM

                              Oh geeze, all this trendy fru-fru mint....Stick to spearmint or peppermint. Yeah, I know, so plebeian, so provincial. If that bothers you, pump it's cache factor by telling people it's "heirloom", all the hipsters go for that. I find spearmint gives me the tastiest mojitos, have fun experi-"minting." Oh and be sure to plant it somewhere you don't mind being over-run by the stuff. Supposedly keeps mice away too.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                j
                                jvanderh Sep 29, 2010 11:33 AM

                                Growing the stuff that's been used in Cuba forever doesn't seem especially snotty to me, but you're entitled to your opinion, however unfounded. As someone who lives in a small apartment with an abundance of mint and an abundance of mice, I can assure you that doesn't work.

                                1. re: jvanderh
                                  BiscuitBoy Sep 29, 2010 11:57 AM

                                  doesn't work? Figures....advice came from the hippies at the vegan store. I'll hafta make sure the neighbor's cat keeps coming around then. And I'll bet the stuff from cuba aint nothing exotic...it's all about perception

                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy
                                    j
                                    jvanderh Sep 29, 2010 12:28 PM

                                    Cats are probably the way to go. I'm still deciding whether mice are worse than cat allergies, and how allergic it would make me if I briefly invited in the cat I sometimes find on my deck.

                                    It looks different than peppermint and spearmint, but I couldn't swear that it makes a better mohito. I think the subtleties of flavor are hard to pick up with that much rum involved, if they're extracted in the first place. I don't particularly care, though-- it's about the hunt.

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