An old Encyclopaedia Britannica described Peppermint as a 'powerful aromatic taste followed by a sensation of cold when air is drawn into the mouth.'
Peppermint is a perennial favorite for many people, it has high menthol content and its refreshing taste is uplifting and cleansing. It is popular for infusions and is a favourite among herbal tea drinkers and is one of the easiest herbs to grow yourself.
It thrives in moist, part-sun to shaded locations and is often grown in containers to restrict spreading.
An exceptionally fragrant and ornamental plant Peppermint flowers are large nectar producers and honey bees as well as other nectar harvesting organisms forage them heavily.
Beekeepers can produce a lovely varietal honey if there is a sufficient area of plants. Peppermint makes a wonderful addition to a butterfly or wildlife garden.
Recipes often specify a “sprig" of mint, a sprig usually being a stem of mint with 3 or more mint leaves.
For cocktails and drinks calling for mint sprigs or leaves such as such as Schnapps, Mint Juleps or Mojitos, 6 to 8 leaves of mint is more appropriate.
Sowing: Sow in autumn or spring.
Sow seed on the surface of lightly firmed, moist seed compost in pots or trays.
Do not cover the seed as it needs light to germinate, simply press the seeds lightly into the compost and water from below. Keep moist and propagate at 18 to 20°C (65 to 68°F). Be patient, the seed can be rather slow to germinate and can be erratic, continuing over a number of weeks.
When large enough to handle, transplant seedlings into single 15cm (6in) pots. To create vigorous and bushy mint plant growth it is best to pinch back the tips of young plants.
Peppermint, as with all mint plants may get out of control when planted to grow freely in the garden. Take care to contain it. Grow plants in bottomless containers either sunk in the ground, or above ground. One plant per 15cm (6in) container should suffice.
All mints thrive, in cool, moist spots in partial shade, though they will tolerate full sun. Make sure to water well during the peak of summer heat and cut back often to prevent flowering and encourage new growth.
Every three years mint plants should be divided and re-potted in fresh soil and compost to maintain healthy growth. The plants are hardy and will die back to ground in winter. Top dress with compost in autumn if the plants are not lifted annually.
Harvesting of mint leaves can be done at anytime, you can harvest as much as you want. Fresh mint leaves should be used immediately or stored for a couple of days in plastic bags in a refrigerator. Fresh leaves can also be frozen in ice cube trays. Dried mint leaves should be stored in an airtight container placed in a cool, dark, dry area.
For the highest oil content, the best time for collection is in August and early September, when mint is coming into flower.
Menthol and menthyl acetate are responsible for the pungent and refreshing odour; they are mostly found in older leaves and are preferentially formed during long daily sunlight periods. The leaves and flowering tops are usually used, pick them just before flowering and do it in the morning after the dew has disappeared. That's when they have the highest content of essential oil.
There are at least thirty species of mint and all species of the genus Mentha are aromatic, although none of them are as pure in aroma as peppermint.
Beef, Lamb, Garnish, Preserves, Garnish, Oil, Vinegars, Desserts, Jellies, Candies, Teas and Infusions, Juices, Liqueurs and Cocktails.
in Britain, peppermint is popular mostly for sweet foods. It is the oldest and most popular flavour of mint-flavoured confectionery, chewing gum and ice cream. The freshness of peppermint goes extremely well with chocolate flavour.
Peppermint and its relatives are popular herbs for infusions; e.g. an infusion of green mint is the `national beverage' in Morocco and Tunisia.
Recipes often specify a “sprig" of mint, a sprig usually being a stem of mint with 3 or more mint leaves. For cocktails and drinks calling for mint sprigs or leaves such as such as Schnapps, Mint Juleps or Mojitos, 6 to 8 leaves of mint is more appropriate.
Peppermint has been used by many ancient cultures and has a long tradition of medicinal use, with archaeological evidence placing its use at least as far back as ten thousand year s ago. Classified as a carminative herb, peppermint has been used as a general digestive aid and employed in the treatment of indigestion and intestinal colic.
Peppermint can be used in sleep pillows as an aid to sleep. It can be burnt as incense to cleanse the home.
Peppermint is one of the most important essential oils. It has high menthol content, and the oil also contains menthone and menthyl esters, particularly menthyl acetate. Peppermint is a top note and blends well with bergamot, geranium, juniper, lavender, marjoram, rosemary and sandalwood. It can be found in some shampoos and soaps, which produce a cooling sensation on the skin.
Peppermint oil is used by commercial pesticide applicators, and can be used as a natural insecticide. Mice and rats also dislike the scent of peppermint. Place peppermint cuttings (fresh or dried) where they are a problem will drive them away.
Mint is the companion plant of Cabbages, repelling the Cabbage White Butterflies, Aphids, Mosquitoes and Flea Beetles. Use cuttings as a mulch around members of the brassica family.
Beekeepers can produce a lovely varietal honey if there is a sufficient area of plants.
Mentha piperata The Latin name literally means "peppery mint" as the genus name Mentha translates to "it is a mint" and the species name piperata to "it is like pepper" (strong, pungent, spicy).
The source of Latin menta and Greek mínthee is unknown.
The French still call Peppermint "Menthe Anglaise"
Peppermint was first described by Carolus Linnaeus from specimens that had been collected in England; he treated it as a species, but it is now universally agreed to be a hybrid. Late in the seventeenth century the great botanist, John Ray published it in the second edition of his Synopsis stirpium britannicorum 1696.
Its medicinal properties were speedily recognized, and it was admitted into the London Pharmacopceia in 1721, under M. piperitis sapore.
Peppermint originated in England, probably due to accidental hybridization. The plant is a hybrid of the watermint M. aquatica and spearmint M. spicata, the latter being a hybrid of M. longifolia and M. suaveolens.
There are at least thirty species of mint and all species of the genus Mentha are aromatic, although none of them are as pure in aroma as peppermint. It is found wild in central and southern Europe, The wild form of the plant is less suitable for use, with cultivated plants having been selected for more and better oil content.
Peppermint was probably first put to human use in England, whence its cultivation spread to the European continent, western and central Asia and Africa.
According to Pliny, the Greeks and Romans crowned themselves with peppermint leaves during feasts and used it as a culinary flavouring. Iranian cuisine knows several highly sophisticated recipes employing peppermint; some of these were later transferred to northern India.
Today, northern Africa is a main cultivation area. In most of these countries, peppermint entered local cuisine, replacing in part the native mints.
The first known cultivation was in Mitcham, near London, in 1750. The oldest cultivar was named 'black Mitcham'; its leaves are dark due to anthocyanine pigments. Other varieties of peppermint are free from anthocyanines and are known as 'white peppermint.
Its cultivation spread to the European continent, western and central Asia and Africa. The plant is now widespread in cultivation throughout all regions of the world. Today, northern Africa is a main cultivation area. In most of these countries, peppermint entered local cuisine, replacing in part the native mints.
The oldest existing Peppermint district is in the neighbourhood of Mitcham, in Surrey, where its cultivation from a commercial point of view dates from about 1750, at which period only a few acres of ground there were devoted to medicinal plants. At the end of the eighteenth century, above 100 acres were cropped with Peppermint, but as late as 1805 there were no stills at Mitcham, and the herb had to be carried to London for the extraction of the oil. By 1850 there were already about 500 acres under cultivation at Mitcham, and at the present day the English Peppermint plantations are still chiefly located in this district as it has proved to be specially suited to the crop.
Most of London's supplies are grown in a triangle with its base on a line Kingston to Croydon, and its apex at Chipstead in Surrey. There are also large Peppermint farms at Banstead and Cheam. This triangle includes Mitcham, still the centre of the Peppermint-growing and distilling industry. The variety grown at Mitcham is classified by some authorities as M. piperita, var. rubra.
Peppermint it is also grown in several other parts of England - in Hertfordshire s at Hitchin, and in Cambridgeshire s at Wisbech, in Lincolnshire at Market Deeping and also at Holbeach (where the cultivation and distillation of English Peppermint oil, now carried on with the most up-to-date improvements was commenced over seventy years ago).
There is room for a further extension of its cultivation, owing to the great superiority of the English product in pungency and flavour.
- Additional Information
Packet Size 100mg Average Seed Count 1,100 Seeds Common Name Brandy or Balm mint. Other Common Names Menthe Anglaise Family Lamiaceae Genus Mentha Species x piperita Synonym Mentha balsamea, Hardiness Hardy Perennial Flowers Violet / Lavender flowers Natural Flower Time June and July Foliage Aromatic green leaves Height 30-45cm (12-18in) Position Full sun to partial shade Soil All types Time to Sow Sow in autumn or spring. Germination Be patient, the seed can be rather slow to germinate and can be erratic,
continuing over a number of weeks.
Time to Harvest For the highest oil content, the best time for collection is in
August and early September, when mint is coming into flower.