Potted mint plant indoors
Potted mint (mentha x piperita, formerly spearmint) is a perennial herb in the mint family, Lamiaceae. Like other members of the genus Mentha, it has leaves similar to peppermint in appearance, but is less fragrant. The cultivar 'Tuscan mint' is an Italian mint that has smaller leaves than the original, it is now a common garden plant. It is used to make tea, and is particularly good for garnishing desserts and desserts on the side. It is also a good plant for pot culture, producing a steady supply of fresh leaves from late winter to early summer. However, if this mint is overwatered, it becomes weak and unproductive, so provide the plant with a minimum of once weekly to avoid this problem. The plant needs at least of light for good growth, but can grow at lower light levels if given plenty of water.
Potted mint can be grown in any container from a tiny pot, like a caddy, to a large planter, or even hanging basket. When placed in a container, potted mint usually grows to around 60 cm tall, although it can also be cut back in spring and flower twice more in a summer-flowering perennial cycle. In a pot, it can be watered with a fine spray, which keeps the soil moist, without drowning it. This is preferable to the use of a watering can or a pond, because the potting medium is moistened, rather than the container itself. Regular repotting is necessary to keep the mint in its best condition, do this at the beginning of autumn.
In larger planters, repot in spring.
Potted mint can be grown indoors in a wide range of light levels, up to that of a bright window. There are no special requirements for the room in which it is kept, as long as it is properly ventilated and not overheated.
It is possible to propagate potted mint by simply dividing plants in spring. Root divisions may be taken any time from about mid-March to late October, after the plant has finished flowering. Take root cuttings of at least 25 cm in length and with a good root mass and put into a tray of damp sand. Keep the cuttings in a bright room at 15-20°C. New roots will form in one to two months. In the spring, when the plant is actively growing, a good root cutting is taken and inserted into fresh soil to develop new roots.
Harvest and use
Harvested mint is used fresh, dried or frozen. The leaves can be used in many ways, whole or in chunks, in salads, on pizzas, fish, chips and salads or wrapped around cold meats. It is used in cooking in India, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Africa and South America. Mint is sometimes dried and used as an additive to chocolate. When used fresh, the leaves should be picked before flowering, when the flavour becomes overpowering.
Mint leaves are used for tea, and the oil extracted from the seeds is used in perfumes, soaps, shampoos and in cooking.
Mint can be used as a flavouring for chocolate and drinks such as iced tea, mulled wine and arak. Mint is also added to lemonade and used to flavour cordials, and in many other confectionery. Mint juice is used in ice-cream and yogurt. Mint may be added to fruit salad, or used in cocktails, as in the mint julep.
Mint can be used as an after-dinner drink, and in cocktails. Mint is also added to apple pie, and also to ice cream. It is commonly found in drinks such as martinis and mojitos, and in the "French 75" cocktail.
Mint is used as an ingredient in some savoury foods such as pizza, hamburgers and chicken korma. Mint jelly is a popular flavouring in desserts and as a filling for mince pies.
Honey Mint Dressing
500 g honey
10 ml lemon juice
1 fresh mint leaf, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
Combine the ingredients, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Chill, and serve with fresh vegetables.
Fresh mint is harvested when the plant is about 1 year old. The leaves are dried in direct sunlight, they may be dried at any time of year, but they are best dried in summer.
The leaves are sun-dried in bunches and hung in a dry and airy place until brittle. The dried leaves can be stored in airtight containers for up to 12 months.
Dried mint leaves can be stored in airtight containers for up to 12 months. To use, steep the leaves in boiling water for 15 minutes, then strain.
Lemon Mint Sauce
400 g sugar
100 g white vinegar
Zest of 2 lemons
1 large bunch mint, finely chopped
Combine the sugar and vinegar in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the lemon zest and mint leaves. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks.
2 kg young mint leaves, washed
900 g water
1.5 kg sugar
Place the mint leaves in a large saucepan. Add the water and bring to the boil. Cook over low heat for 45 minutes or until the liquid has reduced by half.
Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve lined with dampened muslin.
Sugar is added to the strained liquid in a saucepan and brought to the boil. Cook until setting point is reached (see here).
Pour the hot jelly into sterile jars. Seal and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month.
Spiced Orange Cake
150 g unsalted butter, chopped
2 large free-range eggs
100 g caster sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
150 g plain flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cloves
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon grated orange rind
75 g candied peel
Grease and line a 20 cm cake tin with baking paper.
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Combine the butter, eggs and sugar in a large bowl and beat until smooth. Stir in the zest. Sift the flour and the cocoa, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, spices and salt into the bowl and fold in. Fold in the candied peel.
Pour the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 40–50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.
200 g firm long-grain white rice
600 ml full-cream milk
50 g butter
¼ teaspoon salt
200 ml single cream
3 free-range eggs, lightly whisked
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Grease a shallow 20 cm square baking dish.
Cook the rice in the milk, butter and salt for 10 minutes, stirring often, until the rice is soft and the mixture is thick. Stir in the cream and fold in the eggs. Pour the