08 Aug Mint Dwarfs Garden Art and Plants
— Sydne George
Get creative when you have an overabundance of mint. Think mint syrup for iced tea, mint pesto, mint frozen in ice cubes or flavoring mojitos. Or, as shown, use mint with a variety of fresh summer melons for a quick and delicious dessert.
PHOTO COURTESY SYDNE GEORGE
If ever there was a time when I should have listened to my mom, this was it.
“It will spread, you know,” she said, handing me the mudsplashed bucket with the lanky root-laden cuttings. “Keep it contained.”
I should have listened.
After all, she had grown prolific peppermint for years in the family farm garden which produced everything from raspberries and squash to beets and peapods. Even though I heard her sage words of advice, I threw caution to the wind. I planted the few straggly cuttings of peppermint she’d given me, unrestrained and free to roam, in my tiny newborn garden plot, hardly believing those gangly bits would survive.
Surveying the empty space remaining, my two young daughters lovingly placed three painted plaster gift dwarfs in the ample unused earth, digging their feet into the freshly-tilled dirt.
Then, dragging their popsicle sticks through the soil, they drew grooves, scattering the selfselected sunflower, carrot, zinnia, pea and bachelor button seeds that would become our first attempt at a garden.
Jump ahead a few years.
If you tried to sneak a peek at the dwarfs today you’d be out of luck. A garden patch no more, the mint has strangled out every vestige of vegetable or flower that dared to spread its roots in our petite plot. As for the dwarfs, they are nowhere to be found,
lost amongst the foliage that is now the peppermint forest.
So here I am faced with an overabundance of mint. Things could be worse, I know. When life gives you mint … make mojitos, I say.
Invest in a muddle (a stick used to mash beverage ingredients in a glass) and crush away.
For four mojitos, using a muddle, crush three mint leaves and 1 teaspoon sugar in the bottom of each beverage glass. Add 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice and 1 ounce of rum. Fill each glass with crushed ice and pour club soda to fill. Stir to combine. Serve with a fresh mint sprig.
Make sugared mint leaves.
Paint washed and dried mint leaves with beaten egg white and shake in a bag filled with superfine sugar. Use the leaves to decorate cakes and desserts.
How about some minted ice cubes? Boil 2 cups water first to achieve clear cubes. Let cool to room temperature. Place one mint leaf in the bottom of each ice cube compartment. Pour prepared water over them. Freeze until solid. They’ll jazz up your summer beverages in a jiffy.
Mint syrup for iced tea, anyone? Bring 2 cups of water to a boil over medium heat, add ½ cup sugar and a cup of washed mint leaves. Let boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit until cooled to room temperature. Discard mint leaves. Store covered in the refrigerator. Use to sweeten iced tea.
In need of some foliage in your summer flower arrangements?
You’re in luck. Tucking sprigs of fresh mint into fresh flower bouquets not only brightens the arrangement with color but adds an inviting aroma, as well.
Mix up some mint pesto. In a blender or food processor, combine ½ cup olive oil, ½ cup of fresh basil, ¼ cup mint leaves, 2 cloves garlic, ½ cup of pine nuts, ¼ cup fresh Parmesan cheese, ½ teaspoon of salt and ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
Blend thoroughly. Use as an accompaniment to grilled lamb, chicken or pasta.
A minted melon salad is a quick and easy summer crowd pleaser. Using a melon baller, make melon balls from half of a small watermelon, half a cantaloupe and half a honey dew melon.
Bring 2 cups of water to a boil over medium heat, add ½ cup of sugar and a cup of washed mint leaves. Let boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let sit until cooled to room temperature. Discard mint leaves. Place melon balls in a glass container and pour syrup over the fruit.
Cover and chill. Serve in stemmed glass dessert dishes with fresh mint leaves.
If you still have mint (and I admittedly do), I apologize.
Here’s my advice to you. If someone gives you mint to plant, corral it in a container. Partition it in a pot. Commit to keeping it contained, if you can. My mom was right. It will spread.