Country Kitchen: Try Mint for Meal Variety

Country Kitchen: Try Mint for Meal Variety

By Mary Emma Allen

During this season of green and growing things, mint began to appear along the brook and swampy areas of our farm when I was a child. This plant added variety to our meals as Mother included it in main meal recipes, iced tea, and lemonade.

For most of us, mint brings to mind the refreshing dishes of the summer months for it blends so well in fruit bowls, cold soups, iced desserts, and beverages. However, mint also is a traditional accompaniment with lamb and veal in the form of jelly.

It's tasty, too, sprinkled over garden fresh peas and carrots and adds an interesting note to tossed salads and salad dressings. Even if you don't want mint mixed into your recipes, it makes an attractive garnish for many dishes.

Mint Used for Many Years

Mint long has symbolized virtue and the emergence of spring. From its variety of names, one learns that it has been used for many purposes over the years.

Spearmint and peppermint are the best known of the mint family. The other names these mints have been dubbed are heartmint, lamb mint, sage of Bethlehem, garden mint, mackerel mint, and spire mint.

Various Forms of Mint

Mint flavor in cooking can be obtained by using the actual leaves (crushing them) or the oil. The "spirits" of peppermint or spearmint are used usually for flavoring cakes, icings, sauces, and candy. The leaves enhance vegetables, beverages, and fruit bowls.

Mother often mixed drops of peppermint in hot water with a bit of sugar for mint tea when we weren't feeling well. She particularly thought it good for a stomach ache.

In summer, we picked mint leaves from along the brook. These Mother added to lemonade made with freshly squeezed lemons. She also might brew a pot of hot mint tea from the leaves and let it cool for summer refreshment.

Many Mint Dishes

MINT STUFFING may be used as an accompaniment with lamb dishes or stuffing for lamb chops and roasts. Some cooks like to use it with pork, too.

Melt 4-6 tablespoons butter in skillet; add 3 tablespoons chopped celery, 1 1/2 tablespoon chopped onion and saute for a few minutes. Add 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, salt and pepper if desired; stir in 3 cups fine bread crumbs; mix together.

MINTED SYRUP - Combine 1/2 cup sugar, 1 cup water, 1 - 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint in saucepan; bring to boiling point and boil 3 minutes; strain and chill.

Use for drizzling over fruit salads and flavoring other cooking and desserts.

MINT FLAVORING - Add small amounts chopped mint to yogurt, stewed fruit, cottage cheese served with fruit. Sprinkle over pudding and ice cream

(C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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