Peppermint cools down the holidays

Nicole Bullard

Throughout the winter holidays, peppermint is a consistent theme of flavor and festivity everywhere, but most often in food and beverages.

What happened to make peppermint the ‘it’ food for the winter season? It could be the cooling and fresh sensation of mint, or perhaps it is tradition passed down from many generations.

Believe it or not, peppermint is just a hybrid of two separate types of mint, a cross between watermint and spearmint. Peppermint was first described by Carolus Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist, from plants he found in England.

Unfortunately this still doesn’t help understand why peppermint became such a popular food trend throughout the winter, but there are many ways to involve peppermint in holiday cooking.

The holidays are a great excuse to eat extravagantly, and create new ways to add peppermint to the menu.

Coffee is a great contributor to the peppermint hype of the holidays. The icy taste of peppermint is a delicious contrast to the smooth and rich taste of a mocha latte.

Peppermint is a soothing plant, known to relieve stomachaches and sore throats. Is it really surprising that a cooling herb like peppermint would be popular throughout the one season where colds are more frequent and people get sick easily?

So not only does peppermint taste great in tea, coffee, baked goods and ice cream, it has the ability to relieve the symptoms that happen to deal with people being sick.

Also known as mint, balm mint, peppermint oil, and green mint, peppermint has been known to have the ability to reduce anxiety, which is perfect in these hectic weeks of Christmas shopping.

Peppermint is definitely a plant of the winter season, and part of the seasonal kitchen as well. If one decides to include peppermint in their future of cooking, all they need to do is find a food they would enjoy with peppermint.

Peppermint is like menthol, it has a powerful scent and taste, so it is wise to not pair it with a food that contrasts too oddly with the peppermint. They can enhance a winter salad, a red velvet or chocolate cake, or something simple like a sugar cookie.

Not only is peppermint great as a sole flavoring in food, but you can use it as a spice for seasoning soups, to give it a unique taste.

In an herb garden, peppermint is relatively easy to grow, all you need is peppermint seeds, soil, water, and a shovel. The plant prefers to be in half sunshine and half shade, so be sure of the direction of the sun before prepping the soil.

Anytime from May to June is a perfect time to sow the seeds about half an inch deep, and peppermint needs to be watered more than usual. The plants can be harvested when they are about a foot tall, but it is recommended to pick the larger outside leaves to encourage plant growth.

Whether one wants to have their own peppermint or not, it is guaranteed that peppermint will be around for the holidays.

 

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