The Redemption of Peppermint

Was there ever a time when you found peppermint absolutely repulsive?

I used to avoid anything peppermint flavored: tea, toothpaste, candy, the herb itself. It was disgusting and made me nauseous and headachy.

It’s a little ironic that I would choose Peppermint as the first herb to write about here. I’ve held onto true disdain for this plant for a long time. The flavor and scent was unappealing to me for years, but after learning more about it I find that just the fact that it’s green makes it pretty attractive. I’ve come to appreciate this plant, its usefulness, and, albeit reluctantly, its flavor.

It seems that no matter the variety of herbs displayed at my bar, no matter what I’m really muddling, “mint” is everyone’s first guess and “Mojito” is always the assumed drink.

Several years have passed since I’ve held a distaste for this herb as strong as its oils. I learned that there are several kinder, gentler varieties of mint, including Ginger Mint, Chocolate Mint, and Apple Mint that are more interesting. While I hated peppermint, I always loved spearmint – remember the spark of a Wintergreen mint candy in your mouth in the dark? It really worked (read about triboluminescence here).

Now I am studying herbs and fascinated with this plant as not only a flavoring, but also as a medicine.

So I thought I would share a few interesting ways to use this herb that seems to grow so easily, even in our intense southern heat:

  • Drop 10-15 drops of peppermint oil in a quart-sized water mister to clean your yoga mat
  • Put a couple drops of peppermint oil on cotton balls placed in the home to keep mice away
  • The scent of Peppermint oil relieves headaches, nausea, and improves digestion (use caution when ingesting essential oils internally; it’s not generally recommended)
  • The plant’s oil is soluble in alcohol, so you can soak leaves in high-proof spirits for several days, then put it in the freezer. The oils will freeze and you can strain the alcohol out for the next batch. The remaining oil is yours to use.

Then add to all of this the discovery that the plant has been used in the production of many of our favorite liqueurs, including Benedictine, Chartreuse, Absinthe, and Frenet Branca. Check out the Bartanica page on Peppermint  and explore the site.

Not bad for a cloyingly pungent herb.

And just so you know, peppermint no longer gives me a headache. We’re good friends now.