This popular herb has a distinctive menthol flavour, a strong sweet aroma and a cool aftertaste. It has medium-sized round or pointed leaves. There is a range of different varieties but piquant spearmint, also referred to as common mint, is the most widely available type and is popular in cooking. Choose fresh mint if possible, rather than dried mint which has a very subtle mint flavour. Other popular varieties include apple mint, which has a sweet and mellow flavour, and peppermint, which has a subtle flavour and is popular in sweets and confectionary.
Uses: Common mint is popular in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes. Mint sauce or mint jelly are traditionally served with lamb. Top cooked new potatoes or peas with butter and sprigs of fresh mint. Mint leaves are a good addition to long, cool summer drinks - as a garnish and to add a subtle, refreshing flavour. Mint is also used as a flavouring in desserts such as ice creams, often combined with chocolate.
To store: Keep fresh mint in a sealed plastic bag in the fridge for up to 3 days.
To use: Remove leaves from the stem and rinse thoroughly in cold running water. Choose smaller leaves which are found at the top of the plant for garnishing - they are sweeter and will have a better flavour.