What do you think of when I say the word peppermint?
The typical image that comes to our mind is the iconic red and white swirled candy one grabs from a glass jar upon leaving a restaurant. Or maybe you think of your tin of Altoids, a brand that started in the late 18th century producing mints to help combat bad breath.
However, besides candy or clearing our breath, peppermint is a wonderful herb that is popular for its vast healing effects.
Photo by Allison Dinner/the food passi/Corbis
What is Peppermint?
“Peppermint is actually a hybrid plant between watermint and spearmint, and indigenous to the Middle East, however there is another species of mint called Chinese peppermint. A summer-growing, perennial aromatic herb, peppermint is a hybrid of Mentha spicata (spearmint) and M. aquatica (watermint). The plant grows wild throughout Europe and North America in moist areas and is thought to be of Mediterranean origin.” Quote herbalgram
The Peppermint plant is a quick growing plant, and it’s roots like to spread out. Once it establishes itself in a garden, it can be quite tricky to control its spread. The leaves are usually fuzzy and are a dark green with reddish veins. When peppermint flowers, it forms tiny purple flowers that grow vertically in the late summer.
What makes a peppermint plant, a peppermint plant is that it is a source of menthol and menthone.
Peppermint has been used medicinally as a natural way to help relieve headaches, stomach indigestion, anxiety, as well as promote better sleep. It can even be used as a natural insect repellent! Peppermint Tea benefits are well know and drinking Peppermint Tea will usually help alleviate some of the symptoms listed above.
How to Grow a Peppermint Plant
Mint is a great addition to anyone’s garden, and can be grown either outdoor or indoors.
When potting a peppermint plant, it is best to put it in its own pot. If you do not separate it, it can easily take over a small garden as this plant is known to be an aggressive spreader.
Rich, acidic soil.
Requires partial shade.
Mint can grow in full sun, but will need to be watered more and monitored more closely for sun damage to the plant.
Keep soil moist to the touch, as this plant typically grows along rivers and marshes.
Make sure there is proper drainage for the roots to prevent root rot (soggy feet).
Fertilized with a balance fertilizer every 4 to 6 weeks during the growing season.
The most common problem with mint is rust.
To fix this, apply a fungicide and allow soil to dry out between watering.
Make sure the plant receives a fair amount of humidity. If growing indoors, spraying it or setting it on top of a tray of pebbles with water is adequate.
Non-toxic to humans, but the natural oils can be toxic to animals if ingested.
Photo by Juta courtesy of Shutterstock
5 Uses for Peppermint
- Peppermint Tea – Peppermint Tea is a great way to use peppermint. Our 100% Certified Organic, Weaver’s Peppermint Herbal Tea helps ease digestion, helps with headaches, freshens the breath, relieves clogged sinuses, improves energy, improves sleep, aids in fighting infections, weight-loss, relief from allergies, and improves concentration.
- In the tub – Steep a handful of mint in about a pint of hot water, around 200 to 212 degrees. After it has fully steeped (4 to 7 minutes), strain out the mint. Add the hot water to your bath water for a refreshing experience.
- Ant repellent – Chop stems of mint neatly and place by where ants are entering your home. Replace every few days when you notice the strong mint smell is gone.
- Natural mouthwash – Add a handful of mint to a quart of boiling water (add basil, thyme, or oregano as well) and steep for 4 to 7 minutes. Strain the herbs, and put the water in the fridge. Use as a mouthwash and store for up to a week.
- Helps with sunburn – If you do not have any aloe vera around, have no fear. Brew a double strength cup of peppermint tea, and refrigerate. Once cool, dip a cotton pad into the tea and apply to burn to help alleviate some of the pain.
Cooking with Mint
While we all know mint makes a great tea, there are plenty of other uses for it in the kitchen. Check out some of our favorite ways to use mint in the kitchen.
Mint Pesto Recipe
Photo by Leah Maroney courtesy of The Spruce
Mint Pesto Recipe
Recipe by Grace Parisi
3/4 cup packed mint leaves
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
2 scallions, thickly sliced
2 medium garlic cloves (optional)
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Add mint, parsley, scallions, and garlic to a food processor to break down.
- Slowly add lemon zest, olive oil, and salt until it is processed smoothly.
- Use immediately, or store in the fridge to use the next day.
Mint + Lime Tonic Cocktail Recipe
By Vincent Distrola
Add more flavor to your typical gin and tonic.
- Muddle a few leaves of mint to the bottom of your glass.
- Add 2oz lime juice and 5oz tonic water to a shaker.
- Add 1oz gin and ice into the shaker and shake well.
- Pour mixture with ice into the glass with mint leaves and enjoy!
Peppermint Brownie Recipe
Peppermint Brownies Recipe
Recipe by Marcy Greenblatt (Taste of Home)
Forget the Peppermint Bark, try this tempting brownie recipe!
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking cocoa
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup canola oil
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 cup crushed peppermint candies
- Preheat oven to 350°. Line a 13x9 in baking pan with foil and grease the foil; set pan aside.
- In a bowl, whisk together first 4 ingredients. In a large bowl, beat oil and sugar until blended.
- Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Gradually add flour mixture; stir in peppermint candies. Spread into prepared pan.
- Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 35-40 minutes. Cool in pan on a wire rack.