What Kind Of Mint Is Peppermint: Expert Tell You

Peppermint, a popular variety of mint, stands out with its unique characteristics. Its medicinal properties, culinary uses, and care tips make it a must-have for gardeners and enthusiasts.

What Makes Peppermint Different from Other Varieties of Mint?

Mint belongs to the mint family Mentha, but peppermint is its own distinct species called Mentha piperita. It differs from other mints in its distinctive menthol flavor and higher menthol content. Peppermint oil is mainly composed of menthol while spearmint oil contains carvone as its main component.
More comprehensive information and care guidelines can be read here.

mint, mint leaf, green plant in white pot
Photo by Julia Gavrilenko / Unsplash

The Medicinal Properties of Peppermint

Peppermint contains compounds like menthol, menthone and menthyl acetate that impart its strong medicinal properties. It has been used for centuries to relief symptoms like: indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, respiratory problems, headache and irritation. The strong analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties help in muscle and joint pain relief.

According to a study published in the European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, peppermint oil was found to be effective in providing relief from abdominal pain caused due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). The oil works by relaxing the muscles in the gut and decreasing inflammation.

Benefits of Peppermint oil for health:

  • Relieves indigestion and soothes upset stomach
  • Reduces nausea and vomiting sensation
  • Acts as an expectorant and decongestant to clear respiratory tract
  • Provides relief from headache and migraines
  • Provides relief from muscle and joint aches and pains

The study showed that a dosage of 0.2ml of peppermint oil taken 4 times daily is effective in IBS patients. This dosage can be adjusted under medical guidance based on an individual’s health condition.

mint, peppermint oil, close-up photography of sliced lemons
Photo by Tirza van Dijk / Unsplash

Peppermint in Culinary Delights: Recipes and Tips

The fresh or dried leaves of peppermint are commonly used to infuse flavor in recipes like mojitos, pepper mint tea, candies, chutneys, sauces and desserts. Its use as garnish enhances aroma and flavor of both savory and sweet dishes.

Some popular recipes using peppermint:

  • Peppermint tea: A hot or iced beverage made by infusing dried or fresh peppermint leaves in boiling water. It has a refreshing flavor and calming effect.

  • Mojito cocktail: A mix of lime juice, sugar syrup, club soda and white rum with crushed peppermint leaves for a refreshing drink.

  • Peppermint candy: Hard or chewy candies made with sugar and peppermint oil that delivers an intense mint flavor.

  • Mint chutney: An Indian condiment made with fresh peppermint leaves, yogurt, salt and spices that pairs well with snacks and main dishes.

Tips for using peppermint in cooking:

  • Add dried peppermint leaves towards the end of cooking to retain maximum flavor and aroma.

  • Use fresh peppermint leaves right before serving for dishes where you want the intense peppermint flavor.

  • Add crushed peppermint leaves to dressings, marinades and batters for dishes like salads, kebabs and fried foods.

  • Garnish desserts, drinks and savory dishes with chopped peppermint leaves right before serving.

mint, peppermint oil, green lime beside drinking glass
Photo by Morton Xiong / Unsplash

Growing and Caring for Peppermint: A Gardener’s Guide

The ideal growing conditions for peppermint include:

  • Full sun to partial http://shade.It|shade.It prefers at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day.
  • Well-drained, moist but not waterlogged soil. Add organic matter like compost before planting.
  • Temperate climates with cool weather. It grows best in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 9.

Steps for growing peppermint:

  1. Plant seedlings or rooted cuttings in spring after the last frost. Space them 12 to 18 inches apart.

  2. Water the plants regularly during dry spells but avoid overwatering. Add a 2-3 inch layer of mulch to retain soil moisture.

  3. Fertilize peppermint plants once or twice a season with general purpose plant food.

  4. Cut stems to harvest leafy stems for use as fresh herb. New shoots will grow from the roots.

  5. Dig out and divide the root clumps in fall every 3-4 years to control plant spread and rejuvenate plants.

Pests and diseases affecting peppermint:

  • Japanese beetles feed on leaves causing shot holes and skeletonization. Hand pick them in morning and use natural sprays.

  • Aphids suck sap from leaves causing yellowing and curling. Wash them away with strong jet of water or use insecticidal soap spray.

  • Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as white powder on leaves. Prune away affected areas and provide good airflow between plants.

mint, mint leaf, a plant with green leaves in front of a gray background
Photo by Shahid Hafiz / Unsplash

More Helpful Guide

Frequently Asked Question

What can you do with mint leaves?

Mint leaves can be used to make tea, add flavor to drinks, make mint sauce, season lamb, add to salads, flavor desserts, make juleps, and use in Middle Eastern dishes.

How do you harvest mint?

To harvest mint, snip sprigs off stems just above a leaf node. Try to harvest before flowers appear. Cut mint in the morning after dew has dried for best flavor.

What insects or pests affect mint?

Aphids, spider mites, whiteflies and mint rust are common mint pests. Good air circulation and prevention of overcrowding helps reduce pests. Neem oil or insecticidal soap can treat infestations.

Why does mint spread so much?

Mint spreads quickly because its vines creep along the ground and rapidly produce rootlets. The spreading roots can take over gardens. To control spread, contain mint in pots or garden borders.

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