Wednesday, 25 May 2016

The Freshness of Mint

When the weather starts to get that little warmer my mind usually wanders to using fresh herbs out of the garden - (well under normal circumstances that would be the case - but not this year).  I find using fresh herbs their freshness always helps lift a meal that little bit more.  Its what I look forward to after the winter months the new produce coming in to titivate, excite and enliven the palate.  But to me it just tastes good.  I

I am particularly fond of Jersey Royal potatoes  - however I do look out for bargains not always wanting or choosing to pay full price.  Once the Jersey Royals make an appearance I love nothing more than serving these simply with a home made mint butter and tend to do at least a couple of batches to store in the freezer and take out when needed.   So the Jersey Royals are a sign post, trigger for making the mint butter.

I love to eat seasonally but I always have a mind to popping something up in the pantry for the winter stores at all times.  Whether that be by making mint butters and keeping in the freezer and serving with lamb chops or roast lamb, a keeping mint sauce for the pantry shelf, mint vinegar, or utilising in a fresh mint sauce, a raita, a syrup even a chocolate mint mousse. There are so many good ways you can use this much loved herb to very good effect and if you have a bunch that needs using up it would be sacrilege not to do so. 

Once upon a time you made the most of that seasons produce by popping as much up as  you could out of your crop but now you can buy bunches of mint in the shop so doing something with it and not wasting anything is open to all of us.

Unusually so far this year the mint has not come up in the herb garden so it looks as though I am going to have to replace it. I shall look for plants at the weekend might get OH to take me to my local nursery.  Usually by now I normally have a few pickings to turn into  fresh mint sauce.  This is how I make it:

Or alternatively home made long-keeping mint sauce for the pantry shelf. I make a few jars of this a little at a time. This is a long standing recipe that I put up every year.  It is basically very finely chopped leaves packed into small jars and topped up with vinegar which I then place on a dark shelf in the pantry (although there is a little more to it than that). 

Recipe link here together with some other recipes for utilising the mint

and here

However I also make mint vinegar to help thin the stored mint leaves down.  For the vinegar I basically stuff a large Kilner style jar with leaves and saturate with vinegar and leave for about ten days or so.  I then strain and re-decant into bottles and label up and place on the pantry shelf.  You can use the different mints to create different effects and they are useful for when making vinaigrettes or dressings for salad.  I tend to use peppermint but have used other herbs -especially Tarragon which I also put up regularly in large quantities as it is a great favourite.

NB: Equally I always start with a warmed vinegar and then either use warm on the mint or let it cool and then saturate the leaves by steeping the herb in the vinegar.  Part of the joy is finding a method that suits you and it is good to experiment with the different types of vinegars although I do tend to use either cider vinegar or a wine vinegar.

So its only a little thing but popping a simple herb up like this by whatever method helps pep up the food you eat and makes it more interesting. Make a few bottles you can always give them away as little presents at Christmas.

Catch you later.



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