We have more than 30 varieties of mint in the world, two of which are the most common: peppermint and spearmint. Peppermint is stronger in flavor and has bright green leaves and purple-hued stems. Spearmint is grayer, not as bright, and is not quite as strong in flavor. You can usually find mint year-round, thought it’s more readily available during the summer months.

Its leaves are used in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s commonly paired with lamb or fruit and used in cold desserts and chocolate. It’s also thought to settle the stomach, and the aroma is said to have a balancing effect. Of course, mint is very popular for its breath sweetening properties.

Cultivars like lemon mint, chocolate mint, etc. give added nuances to dishes.

Mint is exceptionally easy to grow, but should be kept in pots, as it’s highly invasive and can take over your whole yard in a matter of a few seasons.

Fresh mint is the best, crispest form, and it’s available at many grocery stores (and nurseries!), especially in the summertime. Fresh mint stores well in the fridge. Look for bright green leaves. Dried mint is less flavorful, but makes a good component of meat rubs. If you can’t find fresh mint, a better alternative might be mint extract. Make sure you get the real stuff, not mint flavored extract.

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