Week of September 16, 2014 - Mighty Mints

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 2:11 PM | Anonymous

Mighty Mint Weed Walk

I think of mints as the days cool. These wonderful plants may be frost-hardy, like sage, or they may die when the temperatures fall, like basil and shiso. Even the hardy ones appreciate a fall pruning, so let’s go find some mints to harvest. Be sure to have your vinegar already pasteurized and cool, and a good supply of pourable honey on hand. You may want to tincture a few mints too, so check your supply of 100 proof alcohol. Ready? Let’s go.

Large-leaved Spearmint (Mentha spicata)
This is the wild spearmint of Woodstock. It has very big, light green leaves. I have found it growing in abundance in many places: behind the health food store, on the edge of a pocket forest between two developments, and in Justine’s backyard, where I took this photo. A vinegar or a honey of this light and lively mint is just right.

Cultivated Spearmint  (Mentha spicata)
And this is the spearmint that is usually grown, with darker, smaller, unfuzzy leaves. Note that spearmints bloom from the tip while peppermints bloom around the stalk. Notice the long stamens protruding from each blossom. Can you find the wasp in the one photo?  I love this as a vinegar or a honey.

Cultivated Bergamot (Monarda)
This bright color is the result of cultivation and hybridization. I prefer the wild red and light purple varities, but accepted a cutting of this cultivar and have never been able to convince it that I don’t want it to go in my garden. I cut the flowering tops to dry for use in cooking, as a substitute for oregano. Or I make a vinegar of it.

Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis)
We have cut endless amount of lovely lemon balm from this patch and it is still in flower. Since we have several jars of lemon balm vinegar, it must be time to put up a jar of lemon balm honey.

~ Weed Walk, Contd. ~

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