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Cooking with fresh mint

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Summer recipes with mint

Some people think of mint as "just" an herb, some people think of it only in terms of freshening breath, and others don't think of it much at all - unless it's Girl Scout cookie time and they are hoarding and freezing Thin Mint cookies. Mint is one of those flavors that can seem kind of ubiquitous. But it really has so much more going for it than breath mints, toothpaste and mojitos.

Summer recipes with mint

Mint has many types

"Mint" is the broad term for about 25 species of plants in the Mentha genus of plants that has literally hundreds of varieties. Spearmint, peppermint, apple mint are just a few of the many varieties with flavor differences that range from subtle to bold.

Mint is prolific

While mint in the garden can get out of control, it can also be an excellent companion plant as it repels pest insects. The fragrant and flavorful power of it's essential oil leads mint to be used in everything from medicines and cosmetics to cleaning products. It's a flavor and a scent that's just everywhere.

Mint is deliciously versatile

It can be easy to take mint for granted or get bored with it. While it's a fairly natural complement to chocolate and cream-based items (think chocolate mint ice cream!), when was the last time you thought about this flavorful herb for any other role in your kitchen?

There are so many fun things you can do with mint, and at every part of the meal. Just adding some chopped mint and cucumber to plain yogurt makes a wonderful sauce for Middle Eastern dishes. You can also add mint to beverages (with or without alcohol) for a refreshing something special, let it complement steamed veggies, or keep a few leaves in a dish of sugar to add sweet intrigue to everything from tea to your next batch of sugar cookies. Trying mint in a new way may delightfully surprise you.

Digestive word of caution on Mint

If you have issues with acid reflux, take care in ingesting too much mint. It can relax the sphincter muscle at the top of the stomach, thus letting more digestive acids into your esophagus.

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