Making the Most of Fresh Mint

If you’re eating local right now, whether from your garden, farmers’ markets, or a CSA share, you’ve probably got fresh mint and plenty of it.

I’ve witnessed dozens of sun-kissed Minnesotans slapping mosquitoes and exchanging ideas for how to take advantage of their crops of mint, but here at the Flanagan house, our mint has been under control due, in part, to a behemothic bottle of white rum I inherited from a recent family reunion. White rum and fresh mint means mojitos, and we’ve been serving them up all month long to plenty of “oohs” and “aahs” thanks to my husband’s simple and lip-smacking recipe.

(Makes 6 mojitos)
9 oz. white rum
60 mint leaves
6 tbsp. sugar
3 oz. lime
12 oz. club soda

Individual preparation: Put 1 Tbsp. sugar in the bottom of a glass. Place 10 of your mint leaves in the same glass. Pour a half ounce of lime juice over the mint leaves and sugar. Muddle until the sugar becomes syrupy and the mint is crushed. Once muddled, add 1.5 oz. of rum and 2 oz. of club soda. Fill glass with ice. Mix and serve with fresh mint leaves and lime wedges.

Honestly though, we’ve been making them by the pitcher, so we make the whole recipe in one fell swoop. It’s as easy as falling off a log, and everyone has loved them.

Perhaps minty cocktails aren’t your thing. Fair enough. We’ve also been adding a chiffonade of mint to our melon salads. Whether we’ve cubed watermelon or balls of rockmelon, fresh melon and fresh mint play well together. Consider this watermelon, mint, and feta salad I learned from Jacques Pepin.

1/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. Tabasco
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 eight-pound seedless watermelon, scooped into balls with a melon baller or cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks (10 c.), chilled
1/2 lb. feta cheese, crumbled (2 c.)
1 1/4 c. pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped (optional)
1 small sweet onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 c. coarsely chopped mint leaves

Preparation: In a large bowl, whisk the oil, lemon juice, salt, Tabasco, and pepper. Add the watermelon, feta, olives, and onion and toss gently. Garnish with the mint and serve.

I’ve shared my secrets for keeping my mint crop under control. What about yours? How are you managing your mint?