Mint

Spice up your cooking with the cool flavor of mint!

While most people are familiar with the common varieties of spearmint and peppermint, there are over 600 existing varieties of mint. The Romans may have been the first to use mint as an ingredient in cooking, but they also found other uses for it, like spreading the leaves in their homes to keep away pests. Mint is a very popular ingredient in Asian and Middle Eastern cooking, given how it complements many of the primary flavors of those cuisines. Mint is also commonly used in desserts and drinks, fitting in especially well during hot summer months (think mint ice cream, mint lemonade, or mint juleps). Spearmint and peppermint remain the most commonly used varieties; peppermint has a stronger flavor, but spearmint has more versatility in the kitchen. Peppermint leaves are squat with jagged edges, and spearmint leaves are longer (spearlike, in fact!) with a more crinkled appearance.

Storage

Choose bunches of mint that are bright green, and store wrapped in a damp paper towel in a loosely closed plastic bag in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Note that the cool flavor of mint comes from the oil menthol, so cut or tear at the last possible moment to avoid losing that crisp flavor.