As the warm weather heats up, the beautiful mint that has been slowly growing in the garden will run wild like you won’t believe. Mint is prolific. Most gardeners grow it in pots to keep it from taking over the entire bed, but I use a lot of mint, so I don’t mind harvesting a large amount of it a week. If you have lots of mint growing in your backyard kitchen garden, here are ten things to do with it, and my favorite way to keep mint controlled in the garden bed.
Benefits of Mint
Mint has so many useful benefits. And it is much more powerful fresh than it is dried. That means that you can harvest it and use it right away. I love the simplicity of mint as well as how many things it is good for. It aids in digestion and eases tummy pains, provides nausea and heartburn relief, helps with congestion and allergies, freshens breath, is antibacterial and anti fungal, is a great insect repellant, and is a soothing stress reliever. Mint is definitely one of my favorite herbs to grow, and we can grow it pretty much year round in South Louisiana. That means that I harvest a lot of mint. All summer long, I keep a large vase of cut mint on the counter and use the leaves constantly. Here are my top ten things to do with it.
1) Use Mint In Summer Drinks
Adding a few mint leaves to water, lemonade, and smoothies kicks the whole drink up a notch. It is pretty, it tastes amazing and is good for you. Adding a few mint leaves to a glass of lemonade immediately makes you feel like you are at the beach.
My favorite summer drink is a classic mojito, which is the whole reason I started growing mint to begin with. While I have found a ton of other uses for that little power herb, mojitos are still at the top of my list of things I love to do with my mint leaves. Here is my recipe, which uses honey instead of sugar. It is easy and delicious.
Wild Child Mojitos
- 80 mint leaves
- 2 cups white rum
- 1 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/3 cup simple syrup (directions included)
- Club soda
First make a simple syrup. Combine equal parts honey and water in a sauce pan. (I usually use 1-2 cups of each to have this simple syrup available to use as needed. It will keep in the refrigerator for two or three days.) Heat the mixture until it simmers, whisking to melt the honey. Once it is almost boiling, turn the fire off and let completely cool.
Add mint leaves, rum, lime juice, and simple syrup to a large pitcher. Muddle the mint with a wooden spoon to release the flavor of the mint. Then fill the pitch almost full of ice. Top with club soda to fill the pitcher and enjoy. I like to garnish with a few mint leaves and a slice of lime as well.
2) Make Fancy Ice Cubes
My kids love a recipe I make all summer long that we call boat punch. It is just frozen fruit (whatever I have in the freezer), a few frozen juices (whatever I have in the freezer), and ginger ale. But we always add fancy mint ice cubes to the punch before serving it, and it takes it to the next level. To freeze fancy ice cubes, all you do is fill an ice cube tray with water, and then drop a few mint leaves in each cube. It is an easy and fun way to spice up a picnic lunch or a day out on the boat this summer.
3) Use It In Summer Salads
Mint makes a fantastic addition to many recipes, but the easiest is in summer salads. Adding mint, with lemon zest and a little ginger, to your salad takes a bed of greens off the charts. I also like to use mint in my pesto and tabouli as well. Summer salads are such an easy lunch or supper meal that can be taken to the next level with a little mint.
4) Enjoy Mint Leaves Dipped In Chocolate
Oh my word! This hack will rock your world. If you want a quick summer snack that will curb your sweet tooth, dip a few mint leaves in semi-sweet or dark chocolate and put them in the freezer. WOW! Once they are frozen, put them in a container and keep them in the refrigerator. You can only eat one or two because they are so rich. Try them this summer. They are divine.
5) Juice It
Mint is a perfectly refreshing summer addition to juices and smoothies. It pairs so well with pineapple, cucumber, apple, and my favorite WATERMELON. If you have never juiced watermelon, you just try it. And add a few mint leaves to take it over the top.
6) Make Insect Repellant
Mint is a natural insect repellant, and keeping mint in pots around the house and outdoor living spaces will keep the mosquitos at bay, but when you want to take it on the go, mint is easy to use in a non-toxic spray that is safe for kids and pets. To make the spray you will just need a few household items to go along with your mint leaves.
- 2 cups boiling water
- 3-4 tbsp. mint leaves
- 2 cups witch hazel or rubbing alcohol
Boil water and add herbs. Turn fire off when you add herbs and let the water cool with herbs in the pot to release the essential oils in the mint leaves. Be sure to keep the lid on your pot during this process to prevent the oils from escaping into the air. Once cooled and herbs are steeped, add witch hazel (or alcohol) and stir to combine. Add mixture to a spray bottle before using.
7) Use It In A Bath For Stress Relief
At the end of a long day, sometimes a soak in the tub is just what you need. Whether you have achy muscles or an achy heart, mint leaves in the bath could be just what the doctor ordered. Add a couple of handfuls of leaves and 2 cups of epsom salt to your bath water and soak for at least 20 minutes to relax muscles, receive stress, and soothe skin.
8) Enjoy Mint Tea
Mint tea is one of the easiest teas to make, and it is especially good to aid in digestion and ease tummy troubles. Just steep 1 tsp. fresh peppermint leaves in a cup of boiling water for a few minutes. Sip slowly to ease heartburn, relieve bloating, and settle your stomach after a big meal. Mint works wonders in your tummy.
9) Make A Skin Salve
This skin salve will soothe eczema, blemishes, ant and mosquito bites, dry skin, cracked heels, and more I make it monthly and keep it in the refrigerator. It is all natural and is a miracle cream. Try it!
Wild Child Skin Salve
- 1 cup coconut oil
- 1 cup olive oil
- 30 drops of lavender oil
- 10 drops tea tree oil
- 1 tbsp. fresh lavender leaves
- 1 tbsp. fresh mint leaves
Combine oils in sauce pan and heat on low heat until melted and combined. Add leaves to oil and let cool. When it is completely cooled, strain leaves from oil, and add essential oils to the mixture. Stir to combine and pour into container. Place in the refrigerator to store. Use as often as needed on skin.
10) Give It Away
If you have done everything you can think of to use the mint that is growing wild in your garden, give some away. Folks who don’t garden will love to have fresh herbs. They are immediate mood boosters and the fragrance alone will brighten someone’s day. I make bouquets all summer long to share with our egg pick up customers. It brings me so much joy to cut flowers and bunch them together for those who come here. Adding herbs into these bouquets is so much fun. Mint is my favorite herb to add because it is so useful and it smells amazing.
My friend Bailey on Instagram started a fun trend with her extra herbs that I hope to replicate this summer in my own garden. She creates “bundles” of herbs that she brings to those she loves all during the year. They are beautiful, and, I know, bring smiles to the faces of those she shares with. Mint is the perfect herb to bundle up and give away because you can pull a runner of mint right up from the garden, roots and all, plant it somewhere else, and it will thrive. I give away mint all of the time, but making it pretty would be so much fun. I hope to be able to do that this summer.
Sharing herbs and veggies are the best part of gardening to me. Giving away mint is a double blessing because it goes to live on and bring someone else joy, and it is my favorite way to keep the mint contained where I want it to stay in the garden. This little garden hack will be both fun and helpful to you as you grow mint, the wild child of the garden, this season. I hope you try some of my favorite ways to use it. If you do, let me know what you think!