Friday, July 16, 2010

Using All That Mint



Do you like mint? I love it! Its one of my favourite flavours! I like mint tea, mint coffee, mint cookies, mint candies, mint ice cream...I love mint! I think this is a good thing, since mint spreads so rapidly that it soon becomes invasive. We have it growing everywhere!

It grows wild in the fields here. It is too invasive for an herb bed. It also likes growing in the water and can take over a pond, but I don't consider it a weed. I like the smell that fills the air when I brush up against it. I would plant it if I didn't already have so much growing wild. There's a massive patch growing behind the chicken house in full sun. It does really well there with the chicken manure residue that finds it way through the soil. I have a patch 4 ft wide and 3 ft tall growing out in the field, too.

This year I am going to make mint wine. I think mint wine would be fabulous! A light bodied, soft mint flavour would be a good compliment to the wine taste, or made into a spritzer, cold on a hot summer day.









This is what I picked today behind the chicken house. I haven't gotten to the stuff growing in the field yet. This will probably provide me with enough mint to make a gallon of wine, maybe. I am putting it in the freezer for now, so can always add to it later if I need to.



A lot of these leaves are too old. I only use the fresh, juicy, fairly new leaves and buds for consumption. After I pick those off, the older branches will hang under the porch to dry. I will use these dried older leaves for a scented, herbal bath mix, a potpourri mix, or on a scented herb grapevine wreath for outdoors in the fall.








I set up a spot to work outdoors in the shade with a table so I can stand up straight and save my back. I want to fill a four litre ice cream bucket with leaves for making wine. The hose is on so that everything gets rinsed as its processed and I have a bottle of water for me. Its 90F outside today!

You can also see Buck's nose in the bottom right corner. He's helping (sort of...). He's always nearby when I'm outside, if not right in my face! He's really quite good company most of the time, for a 6 month old HUGE puppy. It's hard to put anything out of his reach. When he stands up he's almost as tall as I am now. LOL! He likes to lay on the sofa but if he moves around much he falls off. He's taller than the seat on all fours and can just slide off onto his feet. He is such a sweet and gentle boy, thank goodness!

This is what I managed to salvage from that bunch of mint cut earlier and a second bunch that size from the field. There's lots more out there but this is all I am collecting today.









Next week, if I have time, I will collect more to make some mint tea. I did make a cup today. Mmmmmmm, delicious and so soothing!

I am also going to make some mint jelly this year. This is my recipe for mint jelly. Its very simple.


MINT JELLY

1 1/2 c. fresh mint leaves, packed
3 1/4 c. water
Green food coloring
1 box powdered pectin
4 c. sugar

Wash fresh mint leaves carefully and crush in water. Heat to a boil; cover and allow to steep for at least 10-15 mintues. Strain through double cheesecloth; measure 3 cups mint infusion (the boiled mint water). Add a few drops green food coloring to tint. Add pectin; bring to a boil. Add sugar; bring to a hard rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off foam with metal spoon. Pour at once into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space and seal.

Boil jars for 10 mins in water bath. Makes about six 1/2 pints.

I LOVE mint ice cream. This is a picture of the commerical mint choc chip ice cream that I have now but you can make your own.

EASY MINT ICE CREAM

For one pint, wash and dry one cup of leaves -- we prefer peppermint -- and discard stems. Using the back of a wooden spoon, crush leaves together with 1/2 cup sugar until the sugar resembles wet sand. Stir in one cup each of milk and heavy cream until sugar dissolves; refrigerate for 2 hours. Strain the mixture, discard solids, and freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions.

After I have cut back the current growing mint stalks, the mint will continue to grow and put out more new growth for me to harvest again in about a month. This will either be dried for cooking or go into the freezer.

Mint growing under a bee hive is suppose to help keep predator insects away.

Don't consider your wild mint a weed! Harvest and use it all. Its great stuff!


15 comments:

Michelle's Green Thumb said...

LOVE mint! What wonderful ideas you are sharing! I usually pinch off the top while I'm out wandering around the gardens for a nice flavour hit. It's great after a meal to help with digestion & I've been aching to add it to my 18 herb salads that I've been enjoying lately.

Wretha said...

I love mint too, I have chocolate mint and lemon balm (mint) growing, I have it in containers to keep it from getting out of hand, I just divided my chocolate mint and replanted it, I shared what was left over which was a lot! I did plant some of the chocolate mint in the ground in a spot that I can hopefully keep it under control, we'll see. :)

The lemon balm is great added to tea or used by itself to make tea, in fact I think I'll go out right now and pick some, it's hot and I could use a bit of refreshment.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Ooooooo! Lemon mint would make a great tea!

Does Chocolate mint taste like chocolate mint or is it just smell?

Wretha said...

To me it is definitely chocolate mint, it reminds me of Girl Scout Thin Mints. Of all the flavored mints I have personally experienced, it is the most true IMHO.

~Tonia said...

Ihave a friend who keeps promising me some Chocolate mint.. I like letting it grow in the yard and then weh you mow it smells so good!

The Japanese Redneck said...

I'll have to tell my neighbor that tip about growning mint under his bee hives.

I have a big patch in the yard and have made jelly too!

Homestead Roots said...

I love mint! I love all the ideas for mint you give. Mint wine sounds delicious!!

Ottawa Gardener said...

Great post. I love mint too and have tonnes of it to spread around. There is ginger mint contained in a half barrel on top of a porch which is on top of 4 inches of drainage gravel. We'll see how long that containers it. Then there is my grandfather's mint. A rascal if there ever was one - the mint, that is. My grandfather was a meticulous and wonderful gardener. I also had a couple sprig of chocolate mint which may have bit the dust last winter in a pot but not to worry, some more made it into an pepper I overwintered and is now threatening to crowd it out.

I love the idea of mint wine. Something to add to the minty recipe list.

DayPhoto said...

I have a chocolate mint that I just adore! Thanks for the recipes!

Linda
http://coloradofarmlife.wordpress.com

Leigh said...

I absolutely love mint. DH not so much so I don't use it in many things. I love it as iced tea on hot summer days and would love to try your mint wine and mint jelly recipes. What a blessing you have an abundance of it from the wild. I planted two mint plants earlier this summer but they are slow to grow so far. I'll have to add some composted chicken manure and see if that helps.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Hi Leigh! It'll grow, don't worry!
That mint will soon take over your entire garden if you don't control it ;-)

Heaven Scent Farms said...

Oooohhhh! Mint jelly...sounds so yummy. My son has gotten into making his own tea. He calls it "Summertime Joy". It is mint and thyme and of course sugar...we are in the south. Can't wait to hear how the wine comes out.

Iowa Gardening Woman said...

What a great bunch of uses for mint, it is hardy. I let my cat nip go wild around here for the kittys but try to keep the mint in check, not an easy task.

Lorie said...

Love that mint. I have a huge bed just for the mint to take over as desired. It is so good at that. Would you consider sharing your mint wine recipe. I would love to give it a try.

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

Hi Lorie! TO make a gallon of wine, I just use 3/4 - 1 gallon of leaves pressed down and about 2 lbs of sugar. I use about 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of acid blend too, but you can just use lemon juice if you are used to using that instead. I don't think you'll need pectic enzyme if you are not topping up with or adding raisins or grape juice.

Do you already make natural wine? It can get a bit complicated if you haven't done it before.

I have actually written a book on the subject!! Just finished it. It's not published yet but I am considering selling it as an ebook on CD or downloadable from this site.

I'm so excited about it!

Let me know how the wine goes for you.