Ingredient in the Spotlight: Mint

Mint takes its name from Menthe, a nymph who, according the Greek mythology, was lover to Hades. Jealous of their love, Persephone turned poor Menthe into this titular plant. Unable to save Menthe, Hades instead blessed his lover with the ability to sweeten the air with her fragrance when crushed under footfalls. Menthe's aroma would forever linger as a reminder of forbidden love and feminine beauty.

The ancient Greeks valued mint for its olfactory aesthetic, rubbing the plant's leaves on themselves to scent their bodies, or swiping their dining tables to clean and freshen it. We know that the Ancient Egyptians also valued mint, as leaves dating to 1000 BC were found in pharaonic tombs and there are even biblical references to mint being used as tithes by the Pharisees.

Today mint is grown commercially and in gardens throughout Europe, Oceania and North America, propagating from seed in spring and harvested just before blooming in summer. 

There are many species of mint, many of which can be hybridised. Peppermint, for example, is a natural occurring hybrid of Spearmint and Water Mint. 

Research has shown that the vaporous mint oil is strongly antibacterial. Menthol, a constituent of peppermint oil, is antiseptic, antifungal, cooling and anaesthetic to the skin. Mint's aerial parts (it's leaves and stem), were confirmed to have value as as a treatment for irritable bowl syndrome in clinical trials conducted by the UK and Denmark. Traditionally and to this day mint has been used to aid the digestive system by increasing bile and relaxing the gut muscles. 

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published