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Best culinary mint (for mojitos, really)

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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

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  1. 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

      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. 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

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

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

        2 Replies
          1. re: Candy

            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. 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

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: Fois gras fan

                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. 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. 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

                    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

                      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

                    2. 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. 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:AN...

                        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

                          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

                            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

                              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

                                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

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

                                  1. re: BiscuitBoy

                                    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

                                      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

                                        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

                                        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. 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

                                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

                                  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

                                    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.

                              2. Here is the correct way to make a Mojito----take note all you bartenders and experts@

                                take a large clear glass--16 0z or so--and put it in the freezer, filled with ice, while you make the mint mixture
                                assure you have very cold soda water
                                take a 3" glass ramekin and an ice cream scoop
                                take 12-15 small to medium size mint leaves
                                gently slice them twice or so
                                put the mint leaves in the ramekin along with 1 tbsp of
                                simple syrup and 2 tbsp's of fresh soda water
                                take the ice cream scoop and using the backside, mash down on the leaves in the mixture whilst turning the ramekin slowly
                                continue this until the leave are all smashed and small bits of the mint are visible in the liquid---and the liquid should be quite green
                                take your glass out of the freezer and using a very fine metal strainer pour the mixture through the strainer and over the ice
                                use the backside of a petite spoon to mash the mixture into the strainer and then pour 2 oz of rum over the mixture,through the strainer and mash again
                                ONLY USE FLOR DE CANA WHITE RUM
                                always take a couple of good swigs of the rum while your making this to assure the rum is good
                                next squeeze a fresh lime over the mixture and mash again
                                last fill the glass with soda water by pouring it through the strainer
                                when finished, taste and adjust for sweetness by adding simple syrup if needed.

                                NEVER shake your Mojito, always stir gently---this is not a James Bond drink
                                The idea of causing bitterness to come out of the mint by mashing too hard is pure baloney or horrible mint
                                At the end of the day, your drink should have minute bits of mint floating around as you serve it and your guests should be in heaven!