Peppermint or (Mentha piperita) is one of the most popular flavors of the mint family. It can be found in a wide variety of foods especially sweet candies and cakes. The history of peppermint goes back to ancient times. As early as 1500 BC it was used as a medicinal herb and as a flavoring in food. Great scholars such as Pliny the Elder and Aristotle argued over its properties.
Peppermint contains menthol, rosmarinic acid, and limonene as well as other beneficial substances. The health benefits of peppermint are manifold, especially in the form of peppermint oil. The oil can help control irritable bowel syndrome, improve digestion, and even freshen breath. It can also be used as an anti-inflammatory. It will can have a soothing effect on itchy skin and rashes due to poison ivy and other irritants.
Mints are often labelled as an invasive weed. It is true that peppermint can take over a garden. Nevertheless, cultivating good peppermint requires some knowledge and care. As it spreads mainly through underground runners called "stolons", it is best to grow peppermint in pots. It will tolerate temperatures as low as -20° F. It is best grown in rich soil, well-composted. Remove any flowers as they will sap some of the flavor from the leaves.
We do not usually think of peppermint as being an exotic flavor. Nevertheless, fresh peppermint can make a tangy addition to salads and soups. Peppermint oil can be used to flavor drinks and cookies. Some chocolate chips come with the flavor added to the chip. Peppermint abounds in recipes from drinks like mint julep to homemade candies.
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