Free Tea – And Great Slaw

Isn’t summer grand?

After my strawberry post (the doe has not yet returned, by the way), I got to thinking about how amazing it is that you can plant something in the ground, give it some water, and then you can eat it. I mean, if you really think about that it’s pretty astonishing. I’ve picked about 20 pounds of strawberries at this point and the equivalent of about 20 store bought bunches of kale and chard. I’ve also plucked 6 or 7 beautiful heads of lettuce and a couple of heads worth of broccoli stalks. Just amazing. And I get to eat it; not only that, but it’s good for me. Now, lest you think I’m just showing off, I wanted to focus today on a gardening delight that many have found to be a little less than delightful, mint.

IMG_9257What’s wrong with mint you say? I’m guessing you’ve never grown it if you’re asking that question. My taste bud-driven answer is that there is absolutely nothing wrong with mint; in fact there is only right with mint; however, mint in the garden or yard can be a little, shall we say, unruly. I planted some cuttings from a generous friend a couple of years ago and for a couple of years the mint patch provided us with enough to dress up whatever needed mintifying. This year, the mint has decided that it really likes the raspberry canes and is rushing to meet them. I decided that rather than try to dig it all up and pot it (what I should have done in the first place), I was going to have to up the ante on my mint usage.

Inspired by my pal Jennifer over at New Home Economics, I set out to harvesting my mint, and WOW, did I have a lot to harvest. After cutting as much as I felt like I could deal with at one time (it gets alarmingly fragrant after a while, evidence that you CAN have too much of a good thing) I took it all inside and gave it a bath in my sink in bunches, removing stray blades of grass and insect friends taking an unintended ride-along. I then tied big bunches of the mint together, let it dry on a towel on the table for as long as my family could stand it, hung some up to dry Little House on the Prairie style and put more in front of the basement dehumidifier, Damp House in the Suburbs style. While there is no question that the mint was drying just fine, there was a scent.

I LOVE the smell of mint, truly I do, but there is a drying mint smell that is not unlike a drying basil smell that rings faintly of cat pee. Yes, that’s what I said. So, rather than endure the cat pee smell I turned on the oven as low as it can go (ours goes down to about 110 degrees F) and placed the mint on big trays. With the mint safely in the oven, we moved quickly past the cat pee phase and back to the smells like dried mint phase that I’d been hoping for. All that’s left for these crispy babies is to chop and jar so I can make some chocolate peppermint tea. No, I’m not adding chocolate (although we all know you can’t put it past me), the mint is chocolate peppermint and I’m so excited to brew some.

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In addition to squirreling away dried mint for tea time, I remembered a coleslaw recipe that had mint and proceeded to dig out an old favorite I hadn’t seen for a while. Substituting based on my available goods, I put together a lovely caraway-mint coleslaw that was super refreshing after a hot day spent on a zoo field trip with 90 kindergarteners.

Psychedelic Slaw with Caraway-Mint Dressing – adapted from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

  • 6 T apple cider vinegarIMG_9297
  • 3 T mayonnaise* (or whatever you use for that, I used a vegan substitute)
  • 1 T caraway seeds (I’d use more next time since Ms. Picky Pants won’t eat it anyway)
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4-1/2 t pepper
  • 1 medium head purple cabbage
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 T chopped fresh mint

Combine the first six ingredients in a bowl and whisk or stir with a fork and set aside.  Shred the cabbage and the carrots (yes, a food processor makes this a SUPER easy recipe).  Chop the spring onions into whatever size works for you. Combine all the vegetation in a large bowl.  Pour on dressing and toss. Taste summer. Serve with summer fare.  We had ours with these mushroom burgers (which our friend Becca over at The Earthling’s Handbook says we should call Nutshroom Burgers, and I think she’s right).  Delish!

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*The original Weight Watchers version of this recipe calls for reduced-calorie mayonnaise.  I would like to just take a moment to explain that I neither endorse nor trust any food item that is made up of predominantly fat that calls itself “reduced-calorie” or “low fat” or “diet” or “lean.”  A fat that is presented as a diet food has taken out some of the fat traditionally used to make it fatty and yummy and replaced it with all kinds of chemical garbage intended to fool your body into tasting and feeling fat.  Personally, I’d rather use a little less of the fat that doesn’t contain a beaker of chemicals. So there.

29 responses

  1. Hmmm, coleslaw with mint? I’ll have to try that sometime–we planted 3 spearmint cuttings in our yard 3 years ago, and now the mint has filled almost half of our tiny front yard! We use a little of it for fresh snacking, but mostly it is just there making the yard smell nice.

    Thanks for the pingback! We love those nutshroom burgers!

    I completely agree about reduced-calorie foods. The one that really gets me is “fat-free half-and-half”–it ISN’T HALF ANYTHING but is a concoction of dozens of mostly weird ingredients. One exception: Neufchatel cheese, often sold as “low-fat cream cheese”, is just a different kind of cheese made with a lower-fat milk.

  2. Mint cannot be stopped. I planted some 2 years ago and no matter how brutal I’ve been to it, it springs back to life – bushier than it was before. And oh yes, the cat pee smell. I know exactly what you’re talking about! But like you, I love mint. I never (d’oh) thought of harvesting it for tea, however. Brilliant.

    • It was a pretty big (d’oh) over here as well. I’m thinking of focusing all my planting efforts on things that can’t be stopped and more or less take care of themselves – would be a pretty satisfying garden I think. 😉

    • just so you know, mint can be mown into oblivion. I planted some in a flower garden in the front yard it escaped into the lawn. When I got sick and couldn’t take care of it, my hubby began mowing the flower garden as well as the lawn.. in two years the mint was completely gone. no more mint smell when he mowed or any mint leaves to be found.

  3. Hah, I keep my mint plants locked up in containers. I am still picking out lemon balm out of our back yard, 9 years later – from the previous owner, who let it grow wild. Ack!!

    • Just keep it in a pot unless you plan on moving into huge tea production like I am. 😉 Glad things are settling down for you – and I think you’re right, they’re still time for herbs. They’re a little more forgiving in my experience.

  4. I’m with you – things that take off on their own have a great appeal…. figure out how to use them and enjoy your low maintenance garden!

  5. Oh, I LOVE mint! This slaw looks great!! Thanks for linking up at our Gluten Free Fridays party! I have tweeted and pinned your entry to our Gluten Free Fridays board on Pinterest! 🙂

    Cindy from

  6. I have mint in my herb garden. I periodically just rip out what chokes the other herbs. Toss the roots, put the leaves in the dehydrator (it’s a wonderful thing! It comes out much better than air/oven drying).
    My favorite way to use it is in homemade lotion and in yogurt sauce for indian cuisine or afghan cuisine… I LOVE mint! My kids eat the leaves. They think breath mints are, well, mint leaves! They also put them in their water glasses for that touch of fancy 🙂

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    • How long it takes depends entirely on how dry it was to begin with. It can take a long time. It is done when it feels like dried herbs, like it will crumble if you scrunch it in your hand, but not like dust.

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