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Mint Condition

Mint Condition

In Mint Condition!

Author: Ellie Dixon

At Easter I’m sure many people will be looking forward to their traditional Easter Sunday lunch of roast lamb with all the trimmings – including mint sauce. Contrary to what you might think though, mint sauce was not invented by the English, but was certainly around in Roman times, if not even earlier. In Apicius’ writings we can find recipes for a mint sauce with cumin seeds and pine nuts to serve with roast pork; with pepper, almonds, oregano and honey as a sauce for cold fish, as well as with pepper, lovage, red wine and vinegar to eat with mutton.

However, in the ancient world, mint was valued as much for its medicinal qualities as a for its properties as a culinary herb. Its delicious smell was thought to be stimulating to both the mind and the appetite, whilst Pliny suggested that students should plait a crown of mint to wear around their heads to stimulate their brains. This might not be as foolish as it sounds, since aromatherapists maintain that the essential oils of certain plants, including peppermint, can improve memory and concentration.

The Roman legions took cuttings of their favourite herbs with them as they conquered Europe, and mint is one of the many useful herbs they introduced to Britain more than 2,000 years ago. By the Middle Ages mint was already a firm favourite, found in every kitchen garden, used in both cookery and medicine. It’s difficult to be certain what species of mint the Romans introduced to these islands as there is a bewildering variety of species. Most botanists now agree however that it was likely to be horsemint, from which our modern spearmint has developed. The other popular species today is peppermint which has a distinctive purplish stem, although it’s easy to buy a whole range of plants including pineapple, apple, eau-de-cologne, ginger and bergamot mints!

Spearmint is the milder of the two species and in Spain is known as “jerba buena” – the good herb, and is used to treat a number of childhood illnesses including teething, colic, wind and fevers. Mint has always been used to treat a whole spectrum of illnesses, though I’m not sure how successful it would have been in alleviating pain from the bite of a mad dog, or in easing labour pains as recommended by Culpepper?!

Culpepper also recommends mint as “useful in all disorders of the stomach” and modern herbalists agree with him, using it to treat morning sickness in pregancy and recommending an infusion of peppermint and ginger to treat travel sickness. Children with upset stomachs may also be soothed by this tea.

The mildly uplifting effect of peppermint was known to the doctors of ancient Greece and Rome who used it as a mild nerve tonic – a use which still continued in 17th century England …. “Mintes are sometimes used with balm and other herbs as a help to comfort and strengthen the nerves.” Applied locally, peppermint oil can have a mild analgesic effect, producing first a cold sensation, then mild numbness.

Another recommendation from Culpepper was to gargle a mint infusion in the mouth to “cure the mouth and gums that are sore.” Scurvy or vitamin C deficiency was a common problem in the springtime in those days after the long winter months when fresh fruit and vegetables were scarce. In fact freshly picked mint has on average approximately as much vitamin C as the same weight of oranges and more carotene than carrots, which makes it excellent nutritional value. To make the most of these properties, try adding finely chopped mint to any salad – refreshing and good for you.

If you feel as though you may be succumbing to a cold, then a classic country remedy is equal parts of elderflower, yarrow and peppermint infused in boiling water; strained; sweetened with honey and drunk hot last thing at night. Hopefully you’ll be feeing better in the morning! Mint is also an excellent insect repellent; a big bunch hanging at the back door is an excellent, eco-friendly way of discouraging flies.

If after reading this you are keen to introduce mint to your garden, if you haven’t already done so, then remember – all mints are very vigorous growers and if you don’t want them to take over the whole plot, plant them in a bottomless bucket sunk level with the soil. They are perennial plants and will come up every year.

Finally – for hot weather – don’t forget champagne julep. Fill your glass; add a lump of sugar and two sprigs of mint. All we need now is the perfect summer!

About the Author:

Ellie Dixon lives in deepest rural Devon, England with her husband and two very large Newfoundland dogs. She is passionate about vintage illustrated children’s books and loves to restore and edit them for today’s kids to rediscover.

Visit Kids” target=”_blank”>www.scruffysbookshop.com/ClickBank_PPP.html”>Kids of Character”, a unique range of beautiful illustrated books and fun activities all designed to help parents grow responsible, trustworthy kids of good character, or for even more great books visit Scruffy’s” target=”_blank”>www.scruffysbookshop.com”>Scruffy’s Bookshop, Ellie’s main website.

Article Source: ArticlesBase.com – In Mint Condition!

Mint Condition
Mint Condition
Mint Condition

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