Apple Mint Plants

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Misc Culinary

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Mentha suaveolens

Mints in general should need no introduction but this particular apple mint is rather special. Its taste is slightly more subtle than most making an excellent cup of tea and a good addition to chocolate mousses, sauces or fruit salads. The leaves are more rounded than most mints and are slightly furry. Apple mint leaves unsurprisingly do have a remarkably appley scent to them when crushed. The plant is very vigorous and can grow to one metre tall and spread like wildfire so preemptive action is described below. The flowers are not that distinguished but are a pretty mauve in the summer, although the flavour of the leaf is best before flowering.

A welcome addition to the herb garden

Apple mint is one of many varieties of mint out there and has this subtle, appley smell and rather more soothing taste than spearmint or common mint. It is a large plant and very vigorous, so no matter how much you love it, unless you want your entire garden overrun with the stuff, you are best to grow it in a large pot or, even better, to sink a bottomless bucket into the ground (leaving a 5 cm rim above ground) into which you plant it. Preferably before flowering in June, it is worth cutting this mint down to the ground so that you encourage new young growth and also because the flavour alters slightly once the plant has flowered. Strangely if you plant one type of mint next to another, the doyenne of herbs - Jekka McVicar - advises that they lose their individual scent and flavour so grow your fancy mint plants separately to keep them distinctive. Apple mint looks very good towering above other herbs like Marjoram or Chives so that you achieve a productive but fabulously purple patch in your garden.

Features

  • Height: 60-100 cm
  • Spread: indefinite unless contained
  • Colour: green, rounded, slightly furry foliage, mauve flowers
  • Flowers: July-August
  • Uses: culinary, herb garden - good for cooking and tea
  • Spacing: 30 cm
  • Scent: apples and mint
  • Habit: upright, vigorous
  • Life: hardy perennial

A little minty history

MInt has a long and illustrious medicinal and culinary history. Mint is mentioned in the Bible: when the Pharisees collected tithes (remember those?!), they asked for mint, dill and cumin. As always there is a Greek connection to mint too. Mythology tells us that Minthe was a nymph who caught Pluto's eye in the underworld and in a fit of rage his jealous queen turned the nymph into a mint plant.

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