Ahhhh, the fresh scent of mint! There are more than 30 varieties to choose from of this aromatic herb that grows throughout the world, including right here in the U.S.
Spearmint, or Mentha spicata, is mellow, refreshing, with a sweet, sharp, pleasantly pungent flavor backed by hints of lemon. Use this refreshing herb in a variety of dishes to reap the benefits of its rich nutritional profile or to punch up a nice summer salad. The fiber in mint leaves offers many health benefits, including helping to reduce cholesterol levels.
Spearmint has healing qualities as well; it promotes calmness and balance, helping to release emotional blocks. It is useful for balancing dry skin, used as an astringent or antiseptic. Spearmint is an anti-inflammatory.
Spearmint has gray-green or dark green leaves and stems and pink flowers. When choosing spearmint, whether from your grocer, farmers market or your own garden, look for evenly colored, fresh-looking leaves with no signs of wilting or discoloration at the edges.
Store your fresh mint in the refrigerator, where it should keep fresh for several days. Dried mint should be kept in a tightly sealed glass container in a cool, dark and dry place, where it will keep fresh for about nine to twelve months.
(Note: Women should avoid spearmint essential oil during pregnancy.)