ITALIAN COOKING AND RECIPES   Authentic And Traditional  Italian Food Recipes
MINT = MENTA   Mint is a perennial herb native to Europe which has spread globally, with more than 25 different varieties around the world. The two most popular varieties are peppermint  and spearmint. Peppermint is actually a natural cross of spearmint. It is tougher, containing the aromatic oil menthol, whilst spearmint contains a similar but weaker oil. This is the reason peppermint is linked to culinary and medical use, when spearmint is often used only as a flavouring in simple ingestible's like gums and candies. Both types can be recognized by their leaves: peppermint features green-purple leaves which are lance- shaped, while spearmint’s rounder leaves have a dark-green shade. They also deliver different flavour: peppermint is fresh and powerful, spearmint is cool and fairly sweet. Peppermint and spearmint are also well-known because of their breath-freshening properties - resulting in the plethora of mint-flavoured gums. To obtain the natural benefits of mint, you may chew on mint leaves after you eat or have a mouthwash just by boiling water together with mint leaves. Cool down, then strain and keep refrigerated. Fresh spearmint is used more often in cooking, mainly because it doesn't have menthol, the oil that creates that unique “cooling” sensation . A wonderful spearmint variety (certainly one of my favourites) is pineapple mint, which has little, cream-and-green leaves and a gentle taste. Generally, search for fresh mint with perky leaves and stalks, without dark or dried patches or wilted parts. Fresh mint must be really aromatic. Mint leaves commonly are not cooked, but left raw in the dish to lighten up and boost the flavours of fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and grains. The herb can also be amazingly delightful in cocktails and other refreshments. I always keep bunches of fresh mint inside a container filled with water on my counter top. Stored like this, mint can keep for a least one week (and could result in growing roots when you maintain the water fresh). You can even roll fresh mint bundles inside a wet paper towel and keep them in a cabinet. Mint dries superbly - hang up bunches upside down within a cool, dry, area till the leaves are dry, and then crush and store in an airtight container. They are going to preserve for at least 1 year . Use in soups, to flavour meatballs (specifically lamb) and to make mint tea. You can even freeze mint .
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