by Preston Brady III, Herbscapes.com 2023
In the horticulture world the debate continues to rage on. Is that mint plant named “chocolate mint” really chocolate mint? Well, it depends on your taste buds and imagination. For me it’s definitely chocolate mint. For others it’s an orangey-flavored mint, the hybrid result between peppermint and orange mint. Those others must lack imagination and that’s okay because that leaves more chocolate mint for the rest of us. But about the “more.” If you plant mint in the right spot and treat it with the respect it demands and deserves it will “take over” that garden, flourish like an aromatic weed. But how dare anyone call it a weed. I planted a few chocolate mint plants in a garden I had on Cottage Hill road (Mobile, Ala.) many years ago. It took over the garden and I let it because who doesn’t enjoy the scent of chocolate mint around the path leading up to the house? Today I have one plant in an herb garden section along with several other plants including rosemary, lavender, and basil. I’m going to see if it will train to a trellis and leave some room for the other plants. I have enough individual garden spaces to give a mint plant a place of it’s own, and may do so with the plants that are still in pots. Chocolate mint is grown from cuttings. In case you want to order a plant for yourself, Amazon has one listed here:
In the summer-like heat right now in zone 8b-9a, mint needs plenty of water. If you go one day failing to water the plant, it will wilt like the one in this photo:
But you can bring it back and the same plant is the featured photo in this blog post. As the weather cools of course it will not need as much water, and if the El Nino weather predictions hold out for the southern part of the United States, there will be more than enough rain to keep it happy. We’re forecast to have some untypical cold weather as well and the plants in the ground will be covered to try and save them from freeze. I will likely cut back a good part of the plants before possible harsh weather and dehydrate and have at least a powder form of the herb for desserts and teas. The right amount of chocolate mint can highly compliment a number of entrees, especially those with a high acid and starch content, begging for a touch of sweet. As almost always the case, the herb would be added to the hot, finished dish that would absorb the flavor and serve as a garnish. Most of us are very used to adding rosemary to baked chicken, but why not try a few sprigs of chocolate mint instead, for something different? The same for baked pork chops. You could use your mortar and pestle and make about a tablespoon of paste, like a pesto, and mix with just a sprinkle of flour and a touch of water to give it a semi-liquid consistency. Place a dollop on the dish and allow the diner to decide if they want to dip a few bites of the chop into the sauce, or even mix a little with seamed rice. They might be pleasantly surprised.
A few fresh sprigs of chocolate mint over a bowl of vanilla ice cream adds a welcomed dimension to, what, let’s face it, is just a plain looking bowl of vanilla ice cream.
Finally, stuff a bunch of leaves into your tea infuser and let it seep for about 5 minutes. Mint is said to help with indigestion and nausea, and other ailments that strike us from time to time. There are lots of other uses for this sometimes maligned mint. If you enjoy growing herbs hopefully you can find a spot in your garden for Mentha piperita f. citrata chololate.