hacking a swath through the mint jungle
October 9, 2007 6:02 AM   Subscribe

I need ideas on how to use up the overabundance of mint in my garden.

The people who owned my house before I did seemed to love herbs, especially mint, lemon balm and coriander. But now they are taking over my garden (and my lawn)!

I waged almighty battle with the lemon balm last year, and it seems to be in remission. The mint, however, is spreading like a cancerous growth. I rip it out by the handfuls; I've already put a garden waste bag full of it at the curb on garbage day.

But there's this part of me that hates throwing away something that is otherwise useful - mint is a nice herb, if a bit overenthusiastic in the growing department!

After having made mint tea, mint sauce for lamb, homemade fresh-mint creme-de-menthe, and stripping the leaves off and freezing them on a cookie sheet for later use, I am out of ideas! Does the hive mind have some interesting ideas for how to use fresh mint?
posted by LN to Food & Drink (32 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
It's mojito time!

Or maybe some mint chutney!
posted by kaseijin at 6:12 AM on October 9, 2007

Fresh mint tea! Oh man, I'd kill for a glut of mint in my garden. :(

Grind it in a pestle and mortar with some coarse sugar, and sprinkle over fruit salad. Very nice, but you won't use much of it that way I guess. I think melon and mint is a great combination, particularly in juice. On the offchance you have a glut of cantaloupes or the like, make melon and mint juice.

Otherwise buy lots of rum and drink lots of mojitos.
posted by bifter at 6:13 AM on October 9, 2007

Throw a mojito party!
posted by oddman at 6:17 AM on October 9, 2007

Be neighborly and give what you can't use away. I would love to have some fresh mint right now!
posted by Brittanie at 6:18 AM on October 9, 2007

I assume that you mean spearmint?

Mint syrup: 1/2 sugar, 1/2 water, boiled with a lots of mint leaves, let sit for 30 minutes after boiling, strain. Keeps for months. You can use it on ice cream, for mixed drinks, for mint flavoring in baking, or any recipe that calls for simple syrup.

Mint Jelly - makes a great gift for the holidays- make a few dozen.

Root some cuttings and give away the plants as gifts (I did this last year and it was a big hit).

Dry some long woody cuttings upside down and use them to tie onto gifts.

In the end, you'll probably have more mint than you can use. I feel your pain - I planted mint years ago before I knew that it was invasive, and now I have mint everywhere. Loads of people love fresh mint, so giving it away is a nice option.
posted by Flakypastry at 6:30 AM on October 9, 2007

I'm going to show my staggering lack of hippness and suggest that you begin to make Mint Julips in earnest.

You might also consider making some mint soap. That'd be nice. You could get some scentless shampoo from your local natural foods store and infusing that with mint. Or get some bland oil from the same store and infuse it with mint for use in cooking (mint salad dressing?). Infuse essentail oils with mint for use as a cologne, or infuse lotion with mint.

Make a few gallons of mint water for after your workout.

Make sachets of mint and stick them in your sock/underwear drawers.

All of the ideas above could produce a wealth of christmas gifts (well, maybe not the julips).

catnip is in the mint family; maybe your cats'll like some mint?

2nding the suggestion to share with neighbors. One of my co-workers once gave me a big bag of excess basil she had. She flew to the top of my Christmas list.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:34 AM on October 9, 2007

Ahh. Mint and its never ending quest for world domination.

Body wash and hand soap? Or bath bombs/footsoak. Hang it to dry? Throw it in some oil or alcohol ect?
posted by mu~ha~ha~ha~har at 6:36 AM on October 9, 2007

Kadin Budu: Turkish Meat Balls with fresh Mint.
Grilled Eggplants with Fresh Mint and Balsamic Vinegar.
Grapefruit Mint Sorbet.
Basil or mint sorbet, with apples
Mint Chocolate Mousse

Room freshener: "For musty trunks, drawers and closets, a bunch of fresh mint placed in a nylon knee hose, hung to dry and left in place will do wonders."

"A tiny vase of fresh mint sprigs gives a cool fragrance to a room. The secret is to crush 2 or 3 leaves and drop them inside the vase before arranging the sprigs. Also tuck sprigs of mint in your centerpiece on the dining room table."

Young mint sprigs can be used in salads - New York Times, April 10, 1881.
posted by iviken at 6:42 AM on October 9, 2007

Tabouleh, a middle eastern salad. I've not made it myself so I can't recommend which of the recipes listed are best, but it was often at family gatherings and always very popular.
posted by Gomez_in_the_South at 6:58 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

you could also serve some cold vietnamese spring rolls at your mojito party. easy to make, and the mint is a key ingredient.
posted by kamelhoecker at 7:15 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Google "mint pesto." Easy to freeze so you can enjoy in winter.
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy at 7:21 AM on October 9, 2007

Mint ice cream.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:24 AM on October 9, 2007

posted by maudlin at 7:26 AM on October 9, 2007

I liked AB's peas with cheese and herb salad (scroll down to scenes 11 and 12). And I don't usually like peas, so that's saying something.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:26 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

Feta, cucumbers and mint are great with fresh pita.
posted by beowulf573 at 7:29 AM on October 9, 2007

My wife suggested (shes the gardener) a mint bath/foot soak. or just mow it over and enjoy the smell.

I will be keeping an eye on this for the same reason...too much in yard.
posted by ShawnString at 7:34 AM on October 9, 2007

Maybe you can go over to the local farmer's market and sell the stuff or give it away. Last time I looked it was going for .99 cents for a nice hand full at Whole Foods.

The stuff adds a nice touch to a vinaigrette...

2 tbs Olive Oil
1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
2 tbs chopped mint

Whisk the vinegar into the olive oil, throw in the mint. Prepare your salad, add your vinaigrette- salt and pepper to taste.
posted by bkeene12 at 7:41 AM on October 9, 2007

I made a mint pesto-type thing this summer that was great - mint, parsley, toasted walnut, chile, garlic, olive oil ground in the food processor.
posted by yarrow at 7:47 AM on October 9, 2007

mint chutney:
leaves from a couple large bunches of mint
leaves from a bunch of cilantro (you don't have to worry about the stems so much with these)
a couple of green chiles (seeded or not, depending how spicy you want things)

Start the food processor. Drop in the chiles and let them bounce around. Put in the leaves and whirl around until you get a paste. Add some lemon juice (1- 2 Tbsp) until the consistency smoothes out a bit. Good with papadums, or chips, or on bread, or as a condiment...you can use up a fair amount of mint this way (although not a garbage-bag-full!)
posted by leahwrenn at 8:14 AM on October 9, 2007

This weekend my wife and I went to a fancy restaurant. My dessert included a single mint leaf that had been coated in sugar. It was frickin' awesome!

Though we haven't tried to make our own yet (we will, we will), this is how we believe they're made:
  • Gather together a bunch of mint leaves
  • Separate and reserve the white of one egg
  • Pour a bunch of sugar onto a small plate (or bowl)
  • Dip each leaf into the egg white, coating both sides. Then dredge the leaf in the sugar, coating both sides.
  • Refrigerate the leaves.
I can't guarantee that's the correct recipe, but I'm 90% confident that it is. I'm dying to make these myself. They were amazing.
posted by jdroth at 9:19 AM on October 9, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's a great garnish for iced tea, or sprinkled on buttered new potatoes. I'm sure I'm not the only one who has "discovered" that watermelon slices rubbed with mint taste delicious.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:28 AM on October 9, 2007

hehe. i hate it when that happens.
posted by thinkingwoman at 9:34 AM on October 9, 2007

You might want to preserve some and use it in the winter. Here's a good article on how to do that with sea salt or by freezing.
Another resource on things to do with mint is over at CookThink. They did a rootsource on mint back in May that's full of recipes, books about mint, and other ideas on how to use mint.
posted by k8lin at 9:56 AM on October 9, 2007

I might mention taboolie but you really need to deal with your invasive mint problem. The best approach is to put in underground barriers to prevent the sidewise underground roots from making new plants.

Asking for help with too much mint is like saying "I started out with 3 guinea pigs and now I have 30".
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 11:58 AM on October 9, 2007

I have too much of everything growing in my yard. Try mint pesto. (just google it. Lots of recipes). It freezes well. I made pesto with everything in my yard ( 6 different herbs, about 2 quarts each) and I'm going to give it all out as holiday gifts.
posted by nax at 12:27 PM on October 9, 2007

Two things.

One: You can dry it and use it for tea. (Good for the tummy.) Since when you pull up mint you often get a lot of dirty roots, trim the stems to where they're clean. Tie a bundle together with string or a twist tie. Place in a brown paper bag with a couple of holes cut in it for air circulation. It'll be dried in a few weeks. Pick off the leaves and store in an airtight jar.

Two: You shouldn't feel bad about throwing the mint away after you exhaust all of the above options. It's only going to come back. Seriously, short of using an icky systemic herbicide (which will require repeated applications because of the way mint spreads underground), the mint will come back again. And again. And again.
posted by mudpuppie at 12:39 PM on October 9, 2007

Yogurt, garlic and mint, left in the fridge for a few hours to blend, makes a nice dip. You can add shredded veggies (cucumbers are great) or other herbs and spices (cilantro? parsley? cayenne?).
posted by nebulawindphone at 1:04 PM on October 9, 2007

Brittanie writes "Be neighborly and give what you can't use away."

Or freecycle with a BYOB policy.
posted by Mitheral at 1:51 PM on October 9, 2007

get a pet sheep and graze it on them. then eat it.

seriously though, put them into pots for friends and family, even sell them in a local newspaper. many people have said already they'd love to be in your situation, so give them the next best thing.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 4:42 PM on October 9, 2007

green mango salad with mint?
but really, mojitos. lots and lots of mojitos.
posted by twistofrhyme at 4:43 PM on October 9, 2007

That salad from Canlis is phenomenal.
posted by lester the unlikely at 7:13 PM on October 9, 2007

Mint lemonade is fantastic, it's a common drink in Israel, and (I am only assuming) the rest of the Middle East. Prepare the lemonade as usual, steep a handful of whole mint leaves in the pitcher, and stash in the fridge until cold. Either remove the mint, or pour through a strainer lid to serve.
posted by lemonwheel at 7:50 PM on October 9, 2007

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