14 Aug 2013

Making a Mint and Loving It!

Many of life's little pleasures are derived from nature's own, from growing a garden to foraging, from collecting sea-shells to turning bits of driftwood into pieces of art. And to me, the humble mint just so happens to be one of those little pleasures!

The island of Corsica is particularly blessed when it comes to wild flora. And wild culinary herbs account for that blessing. Let's just name a few: marjoram, oregano, thyme, lemon balm, angelica, rosemary, garlic, onion and dill. On the family land I have been able to source an ever-ready supply of fresh mint. I fill (but don't overfill) a Tupperware tub with a few handfuls of mint that I cut with a pair of secateurs, making sure no roots are pulled. I leave the mint sprigs unwashed inside the tub. Then I pop a clean sheet of kitchen paper on top, seal the lid securely and off it goes in the fridge. Whenever I feel like it, I get a small handful of mint sprigs out, pop them in a cup or teapot, pour boiling water out of the kettle on top and leave to infuse for a few minutes. In this hot weather, I find it extraordinarily refreshing. It is also a great aid to digestion, after a heavy meal, or if feeling bloated.

And this fresh mint has nothing to envy to its cultivated counterparts. It will keep for at least two weeks in the fridge, whereas the shop-bought varieties will quickly wither, go brown and soggy, because they were forcefully grown, (over-)watered and possibly treated with fertilisers. Nature's own is a little fighter for it will have learnt to fend for itself, relying on sparse to zero water supply, and will have developed coarse leaves that retain moisture and diffuse a strong aroma that will make the cultivated varieties pale down in shame!

Maybe in your neck of the woods, there are wild culinary herbs waiting to be discovered or shared with others! If you are unsure, how about getting a wild flora book about your region, or join a local nature society (they tend to organise guided themed country walks), or enrol a local plant expert/ botanist into your adventure - and get your friends/ family/ neighbours to rally round - for the more the merrier! Have fun!

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