Apple Mint – Miscellany of the 22 Botanicals

IN

A.K.A  Egyptian Mint, Mojito mint.

It’s much more fun to think that the civilisations that proceeded us were nothing like us, that they worshiped sun gods, lived in caves or, thought the world was flat. The truth might be a little more boring. Take the ancient Egyptians for example, we love to think they worshiped cats. Fifty centuries of time only seem to add to this myth. But if you just pause and imagine if somehow Youtube could be unearthed in a few thousand years time. Perhaps future generations would see Grumpy cat, Simons Cat or my favourite Hamilton the Hipster cat the cat that looks like he has a little white moustache and think that we worship cats too. My guess is the Egyptians just found cats amusing and that hieroglyphics with cats on are possibly just the Egyptian version of the internet.

Something the Ancient Egyptians also did was to allow their pharaohs to pay taxes using apple mint, also known as Egyptian mint.  I’ve grown apple mint in the back garden and from one tiny cutting it took over a small patch of earth with roots jumping out ready to colonise the rest of the garden like some crazed 1930’s German. It strikes me that paying taxes in invasive herbs is akin to letting some of the biggest companies off from paying corporation tax. So it would seem that a love of cats and corruption makes those Egyptians very similar to our civilisation.

It has to be said that apple mint is a valuable herb. It has been used throughout antiquity to treat a variety of common illnesses including sore throats, stomach aches and bee stings.  Although the chain-smoking father of free healthcare, Culpepper, suggested that you should never give mint to a wounded man as the wound would never heal!

It is thought that the Roman’s marched here with mint in hand, along with a whole host of other herbs. It is little facts such as this that makes me often wonder how the wild plants that I’m picking ended up at my feet. Was it native, did it blow here, or was the patch I’m picking from once an ancient herb garden?  Often foraging can be the first step to unearthing our past. Armed with some knowledge of the history of a plant you can start to join the dots. Indeed, I’ve seen apple mint growing in spots from here (in Bristol) across France and all the way to Italy. Pretty much following the route of Roman occupation. Perhaps when you find some growing in a crack in a pavement, or in the undergrowth at the edge of a woodland, you too will think of a centurion marching along with a bag full of seeds or a clutching a tiny sprig of mint.

It's not just any mint, this is apple mint

Like all mints applemint will grow new plants from it’s extensive root structure

If you do have an abundance of mint growing in your back garden and really are looking for uses beyond the Mojito then consider using it as a bath scent. Simply run yourself a bath and tie some sprigs of mint so that they dangles into the hot water. According to Jekka Mcvicar, the herb grower and author, your bath and indeed your whole house will be scented with a lovely minty aroma.

Otherwise you may consider turning it into a Apple mint cordial or with a touch more effort a non alcoholic julep drink.

Non alcoholic mint Julep drink

  • 3 sprigs Apple Mint leaves
  • Juice of half a lime (25ml/1oz)
  • Ice
  • 100ml Apple juice
  • More mint for garnish

Grab yourself a Collins glass (a long tumbler) and muddle the mint leaves with the lime juice. Top up with some ice and a spot of apple juice. Garnish with a sprig of fresh apple mint and drink though a straw.

For a real touch of foraging magic you could also add some Eucalyptus syrup, around 25ml per drink.  If you do but don’t have the sweetest of teeth you may want to balance it with a dash of aromatic bitters. Alternatively some muddled eucalyptus leaves will also add a touch of the exotic. Of course like most non alcoholic cocktails gin would work as an extra addition too!

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