Selection of mint species is wide
mint is an all-round talent. Not only does it give chewing gum the taste and good breath, it also seasoned desserts and cocktails, lamb and vegetables. As if that weren't enough, the herbaceous plant also has two dozen varieties - some taste of apple, others of chocolate. In addition, the lip blossom family is a medicinal plant.
Spearmint is common in Europe. It loves the proximity of water and grows wild on soil with many nutrients. Tea from the plant is an effective home remedy for colds, diarrhea, nausea, rheumatism, headaches, bad breath, heart weakness and tension.
It is easy to use as medicine. For a tea, leave a teaspoon of dried or three teaspoons of fresh mint in a quarter of a liter of hot water - for about ten minutes. Then they strain the tea and drink it.
Cold or warm
If you have nausea, let the tea cool and drink in small sips. You can cool the tea down even on hot days, for example with honey and lemon and then drink it. However, Berbers, Arabs and Iranians basically drink mint tea. This also makes sense, because ice-cold drinks in the midday heat cool the body, but the drop in temperature costs the organism a lot of energy.
The tea can also be used externally. A cotton cloth soaked in it helps against headaches.
Spearmint for bad breath
The English name Spearmint recalls that spearmint provides the basis for the taste of chewing gum and toothpaste, and our ancestors chewed the leaves against bad breath.
The plant contains essential oils such as menthol, menthone and menthol esters, as well as tannins, flavonoids, resins and bitter substances. Bitter and tannins and the essential oils have been shown to solve cramps and pain. Muscle tension and severe headaches can also be combated with the medicinal plant; however, the tea is too weak for this, you should apply diluted mint oil externally.
Mint as a home remedy
It is widely used as a home remedy for "everyday diseases" such as colds and flu infections, on the one hand it relieves the symptoms, on the other hand the plant is easy to grow and the dried leaves are always available.
Leaves and stems can be harvested outdoors from April to August, the flowers from August to September. To dry the leaves, you only need to hang them up in a dry place or spread them out on a cloth - in low humidity.
The herb can be bought in a pot or in bundles in any large supermarket, also in organic quality. In Germany you can easily get the intensely tasting oriental varieties - in bundles in Turkish vegetable shops.
You should quickly consume mint in the bunch, because the valuable menthol disappears in a few days after the cut and the leaves hang. The plant stays in the pot permanently, the requirement is a partially shaded place, nutrient-rich soil and a lot of moisture.
To use the herb, rinse it with clear water and shake it dry, then pluck the leaves from the stems.
Cultivation from seeds
If we sow green mint directly in the garden, there is little left for us. Birds, snails and other invertebrates find the seedlings as tasty as we do. Therefore, the herb should be preferred under glass and only bring an already developed plant outside.
We can grow the seeds under glass all year round, but best from March to June.
Mint is a germ of light. All we need is a seed bowl with a mixture of soil and sand. We sprinkle the seeds on it and place the bowl in a bright place in the greenhouse, conservatory or window.
The seeds should stay moist all the time. They germinate after about 2 weeks. We put the seedlings in single pots as soon as they develop a pair of leaves. In these pots there should be a mixture of garden soil, garden compost and green waste.
From a height of approx. 10 cm, they come to their final destination - in pots, flower boxes or in the bed.
Mint: care and harvest
Spearmint grows strongly. We should cut them several times a year if we want to conserve biodiversity in the garden. At the beginning of March we can cut the entire plant back just above the ground and cut the shoots right after flowering.
Incidentally, the aroma is at its highest immediately before flowering, and this is the best time for harvesting.
In the winter
The labial plants are hard chunks. All forms of spearmint are hardy to minus 24 degrees Celsius. You only need to be careful with potted plants. In these, the root bed can freeze through.
This is evident in the dried leaves, which stem from the fact that the roots do not get any water from the frozen earth. This can be prevented by covering the root area with a layer of leaves or green waste.
Once you have the plant in the garden, your main problem is that it does not multiply. The propagation is extremely simple.
1) About foothills. They dig up a piece of root and cut it off with one or two knots, put it in a pot with herbal soil, keep the substrate moist and soon the root network has filled the pot.
2) You cut cuttings in early summer, put them in growing soil and water them regularly. When new leaves sprout, the propagation is successful.
3) You can easily split a plant. To do this, dig them out, cut the roots into several parts with a knife and plant them separately again.
In addition to spearmint, there are about 20-30 other types of mint that can also be used as food. These include, for example, Mentha alaica from Central Asia, the domestic water and field mint, the Asian, Australian and Canadian mint, the deer mint of southern Europe and the Cunningham mint of New Zealand.
Japanese healing plant oil
The field mint is the basis for the Japanese medicinal plant oil, which is popular worldwide as a home remedy for headaches, muscle tension and colds.
Mentha aquatica is mainly used as a medicinal plant, Mentha rotundifolia, apple mint gives a special tea, the pennyroyal is medicinal herb, rarely "normal tea" (it tastes too much like "medicine"). The round-leaved mint is popular as a fragrant plant.
The Algerian fruit mint is reminiscent of the taste of papaya and is suitable for tea as well as for pasta sauces or rice dishes. It belongs to the North African yoghurt sauce made from high-fat yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and chilli, as well as mint. The sauce is served with grilled meat.
Their red colored stems and green leaves also make them an ornament in the garden.
We differentiate, not biologically, but in terms of taste, three different types of mint.
1) Peppermint has been used in cuisine and medicine for centuries and is believed to have been cultivated by the Romans and has been part of English cuisine for many centuries.
2) Fruit mint has less menthol than the "medicinal varieties" and different fruit flavors. They taste like apple, pineapple, strawberry or lemon, ginger or lavender.
3) Tea mint has less menthol than peppermint, so it is friendlier to the stomach and easier to consume in everyday life. You can prepare pure mint teas or mix these varieties with green and black tea.
Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is available in various varieties, including natural subspecies as well as cultivated forms. The English spearmint is the basis for "lamb with mint sauce", dark spearmint is characterized by dark red leaves and tastes strongly of chewing gum, Moroccan mint gives the best tea, and Turkish mint is a traditional spice plant from "1001 nights".
This variant is also called nano-mint. It comes from North Africa and the Near East and has a lot of menthol, so it tastes like chewing gum and is the basis for the Moroccan national drink, the mint tea, which is spread between Fez and Agadir like the morning coffee here. The preparation is the same as for normal mint tea.
The nano mint is easy to grow. It is as hardy as the green species and therefore grows outdoors. As with this, gardeners should be careful, however, because nano-mint forms lingers. If you don't want it to overgrow the garden, plant a root barrier or plant in pots. This type is also very suitable for balconies, conservatories and windowsills.
Plant outdoors from March to October. To do this, dig the ground and remove the roots of other plants there. It is best to set the plant as deep as it was in the pot with a distance of about 40 cm between the individual specimens. Then press them down and water them abundantly.
Nanaminze blooms from July to September, the flowers are white to purple, the leaves are serrated, and the plant grows to a height of 60 cm.
Mint in the kitchen
In Germany, the herb belongs above all in desserts, in pies, desserts or fruity cocktails. In the Orient, however, it is an integral part of the lunch menu. In Arabia there is, for example, tabouleh, a salad made from chopped parsley and mint, in India mint curries, in Egypt lentil dishes and in Turkey with it. The "Orientals" use mint in combination with parsley and garlic. Herbs with more subtle flavors kill them with their dominant aroma.
What is mint for?
In the kitchen, it harmonises with citrus fruits, especially lemons, oranges and limes, both in sauces and as a drink. It also goes well with all berries, melons and figs, for example as a cold melon soup in summer. It also harmonises well with legumes, peas and lentils. Young green peas in particular improve their taste by adding them, and dishes with chickpeas and mint are an integral part of Arab culture.
Minced lamb or pumpkin soup, a cucumber salad, a cold tomato soup or a hot carrot soup with the herb are also classics.
For vegans it offers countless options for main courses. It starts with bulgur and stuffed peppers with mint, goes on to artichokes with mint dressing, to eggplants in mint sauce.
Fresh mint is suitable for cooking and for main dishes, dried leaves should be used primarily in teas and as a remedy. A rule of thumb: use the plant in the kitchen like citrus fruits, i.e. for everything that should taste fresh and summery. However, it is less suitable for heavy meals.
Strawberry mint tastes and smells like berries. The delicate aroma evaporates when heated, so we mix them raw in salads or yoghurt or garnish with their ice cream. (Dr. Utz Anhalt)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
Dr. phil. Utz Anhalt, Barbara Schindewolf-Lensch
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