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.
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!