Mint Family: Labiatae (Lamiaceae)
The name mint refers to several aromatic species or hybrids of the genus Mentha, especially the widely cultivated common mint or spearmint (Mentha spicata) and the hybrid peppermint (Mentha × piperita).
Other commercially cultivated mints are Scotch spearmint (Mentha x gracilis), cornmint (Mentha arvensis) and apple mint (Mentha suaveolens).
The part of the plant used is the leaf. It has a warm, fresh, aromatic, sweet flavour with a cool aftertaste. The spearmint (Mentha spicata) is the most widely used in Western cooking.
Culinary Use of Mint Leaves
The leaves are commercially used in teas, beverages, desserts, ice-creams, jellies, syrups, icings, candies, chewing gums, and chocolates.
Fresh mint leaves add zest to sweet dishes like fruit salads, melons, berries, fruit soups and cold fruit beverages like smoothies.
Refreshing mint leaves are delicious with cooked carrots or peas, zucchini and asparagus. Mint is also used in fresh pea soup or chilled yoghurt soup and in cold grain salads such as tabbouleh.
Mint is always paired with roast lamb. The British use it in form of the mint sauce and Americans use it as mint jelly.
Mint is also great as a garnish for desserts, salads, drinks, fruit salads, and cocktail.
Crème de menthe is a mint-flavoured liqueur used in drinks such as the grasshopper.
What substances are responsible for the minty smell and taste?
The compounds that give the mints their characteristic aromas and flavours are menthol and pulegone and in spearmint, the compound is L-carvone.
Mint essential oil and menthol are extensively used as flavorings in breath fresheners, antiseptic mouth rinses and toothpaste.