PEPPERMINT

Description

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is an herbaceous, perennial, stoloniferous, and strongly aromatic plant which belongs to the Labiatae (Lamiaceae) family. Peppermint is a hybrid between aquatic mint and mentha viridis, which is made in England. The plant can reach a meter in height and blooms in midsummer, exposing bright green leaves and a stem that can have purple hues. The best habitat is one that exposes the plant to full sun but always retains fresh soil. Depending on the variety, there are two types: the white mint and the black mint. In traditional medicine, mint is attributed with digestive, antiseptic, and tonic properties. In cuisine, it is used in soups and sauces; in particular, to flavor lamb and for preparing liqueurs, cordials, and desserts. In addition, menthol is extracted from mint, an ingredient in many perfumes, cosmetics, and medicines.

Cultivation

Mint is very resistant both to cold and to heat. In Italy, it can be grown both in pots as well as in gardens. If placed in a vase, one will have to enrich the soil with organic substances by mixing 80% organic compost with 20% sand or perlite, thereby obtaining a substrate that always remains fresh. Mint plants tend to trail, which means their containers should be large. Mint requires exposure to partial shade or full sun in addition to frequent watering. The leaves can be harvested at any time during the good season, but they reach their maximum aroma when flowering. For home-grown cultivation in which the leaves are used, one should eliminate the inflorescence as it appears, pruning the plant in order to force it to produce new branches and leaves.