Posted 17th July
A sprig of mint in a glass of Pimms is a sure sign that British summer is upon us
Every year, fresh mint sales soar as a result of the Pimms effect - however, the herb's uses go way beyond this.
Jekka McVicar, the UK's leading herb expert and herb guru to chefs including Jamie Oliver and Raymond Blanc, provides five other ways to enjoy mint this summer and beyond.
Jekka McVicar said: "Mint has been used in cooking for thousands of years. There are many different varieties, including peppermints and spearmints. You can even buy some of the more unusual varieties such as chocolate mint from the supermarkets these days. The beneficial properties are well known, these being digestive, and antispasmodic. Mint also has antioxidant and antiviral properties. It’s a great addition to a cocktail because it adds such a refreshing flavour, but mint is also delicious with vegetables, fruit, cheese, meat, poultry, yoghurt and of course, makes a refreshing cup of tea".
Jekka's five ways to incorporate more mint are:
1 With bruschetta. Incorporated with aubergine and garlic, the flavours will combine wonderfully.
2 In a soup with pea and ham. Mint will cut the saltiness of the ham, while enhancing the flavour of the peas.
3 Cooked with chicken. You should then serve it with a crisp green salad and some crusty French bread.
4 Mint will taste magical when baked in meringues. It works especially well when served with fresh fruit and whipped cream.
5 Mint is great with beans. You should try it in a salad with broad beans, green beans and some feta cheese or halloumi. It's capable of freshening the whole salad, and will lift the flavour of the dish.
Jekka McVicar is widely viewed as the UK's leading expert on fresh herbs, and was subsequently dubbed the 'queen of herbs' by Jamie Oliver. She has cultivated the UK's largest collection of culinary herbs, and has written numerous books on the subject. She is fronting the Love Fresh Herbs campaign, which is promoting the flavour, colour, texture and aroma that fresh food will bring to food and drink.