Peppermint

Peppermint

mentha x piperita

Peppermint has many significant benefits such as a digestive aid, cramping, nausea, gas and stomach issues. Peppermint is also a good aid for headaches.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names:
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: Yes
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Leaves
  • Side Effects: Generally Safe. Mints have high essential oil so use with caution
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About Peppermint

Peppermint is a highly cherished plant and as the name indicates, it belongs to the mint family, Lamiaceae. It is universally recognized as a naturally occurring hybrid mint i.e. a cross between watermint (Mentha aquatic) and spearmint (Mentha spicata). This herbaceous rhizomatous perennial is characterized by smooth stems and dark green, serrated leaves that can be 4 inches long at most with reddish veins. Its flowers grow in a cone shape and their color ranges between light pink and mauve.

Peppermint plant is treasured for the essential oil it exudes. Its oil is hailed as one of the most versatile oils in the whole world along with Lavender oil.

The use of this multi-skilled plant dates back to the Ancient Egyptian, Chinese and Japanese folk medicine practices. Since 1500 BC, the plant is documented to be availed for culinary and herbal medicine motives. It imparts the popular sprightly, fresh coolness to sweet and savory dishes.

This versatile plant is quite useful when it comes to eradication of harmful bacteria, alleviation of muscle spasms, muscle tension, and fever. It is also employed to comfort and disinfect the inflamed skin.

From tubes of toothpastes to chewing gum, they have sneaked their way quite cunningly too perk our taste buds.

The active ingredients that bring about its lively flavor and medicinal perks are Menthol and Menthone that are known to manifest analgesic, astringent, anesthetic, antiseptic, expectorant, and anti-inflammatory activities.

Growing

Growing peppermints is an easy job as they thrive happily in they can tolerate the summer and even some light frost.

It is good to start their plantation after the last frost in spring or fall. For colder regions, it is better to plant them two to three weeks prior to the first frost. Fertile and moist soil with partial sun exposure to shade induces a perfect growth. If they are planted alongside river streams or water gardens as the region provides the perfect amount of moisture for robust growth. But the reason why growing them is considered easy-peasy is because they can be grown even in dry soil too.

They spread quite rapidly so better start your plantation indoors, in a pot to hold its wandering. Organic fertilizers are added every month to ensure healthy growth. The only thing from which peppermint needs protection is the cold climate.

For outdoor plantation, peppermint is planted thoughtfully near cabbage and tomato plants because they are very good at stealing nutrients from other crops.

Harvesting

The broadcasting of peppermint seeds results in germination within 10 to 16 days. The plant can also be propagated by cuttings.

The peppermint plant is characterized by its beautiful flowers. Its blooming season is marked from mid-summer to late-summer. The pretty flowers serve as the icing on the cake by attracting pollinating insects for pollination. The pollinating insects advance happily towards the plant with the heavenly smell teasing their minds and violet colors joshing their senses.

After the process of pollination and fertilization, the ovule develops into a seed to begin the lifecycle again.

Peppermint plant is harvested solely for its leaves as they are of utmost importance from both cooking and medicinal point of view.

The leaves are harvested in spring when they are very young i.e. just before the plant initiates flowering. An indoor plant can ensure the supply of peppermint leaves throughout the winters.

They are frequently harvested to keep the plant in its best shape.

The stem of the plant is cut 1 inch above the ground. Either scissors or your hands are enough to collect your highly desired peppermint leaves.

Young leaves are preferred over the old ones because they possess more flavors than the old ones. Also, when they receive more sunlight, the quantity of its active ingredients increases amazingly.

Peppermint leaves are wrapped in a damp paper towel and placed in a plastic bag. The plastic bag is not tightly sealed to ensure air circulation. Failure to do so can result in mold formation.

Another way is to trim the ends of the stem and place them in a jar filled with 1 inch of water. It is made sure that the water is replaced immediately when it turns cloudy.

The peppermint leaves can also be dried (through the dehydrator, air, or oven) and froze to be enjoyed for up to three months.

Usage

Peppermint plant is reputed to possess many therapeutic activities. The following highlighted preparations can be used to relish the never-ending benefits of this versatile plant.

  • Tincture - Infuse freshly chopped peppermint leaves in grain alcohol for 4 to 6 weeks. Strain the liquid and place it in a dark and dry place.
  • Tea - Fresh peppermint leaves are allowed to boil with water. Additionally, honey and lemon slices can be added to perk up the benefits.
  • Decoction - Peppermint leaves (either fresh or dried) are simmered with on gentle flame for about an hour to attain peppermint decoction.
  • Salve - Dried peppermint leaves are combined with other dried herbs and beeswax to form a salve.
  • Syrup - fresh peppermint leaves are allowed to simmer with the mixture of water and sugar to form peppermint syrup.
  • Infused oil - Fresh peppermint leaves are crushed and allowed to infuse with olive oil to form peppermint oil.