Apple mint’s origin is solidly European, it comes from the southern and western parts of the continent but can be found growing wild in other parts as well. In Ancient Greece, apple mint was used for cleaning tables in banquet halls and as a bath herb. It has historically been used as a strewing herb, which means that it has been strewn in temples and other buildings. The idea is that the herb would release its fragrance when crushed underfoot by the building’s occupants. It served as both an air freshener and a pest repellent.
Apple mint is sometimes spelled applemint. Pineapple mint is a variant of apple mint; you can tell the difference between the two herbs by pineapple mint’s variegated leaves. Other names for apple mint include woolly mint because of the hairs on its leaves and monk’s herb because it was once grown mainly in monastery gardens. The reason stems from the fact that monasteries were also infirmaries. The monks believed that you could use the herb to treat the fatigue that followed epileptic seizures.
People in Spain and Latin America, refer to apple mint as hierbabuena. Note that sometimes other mints are referred to as hierbabuena, which means good herb.
Apple mint flavor profile
Apple mint does not taste a lot like apples but does have a slight fruity fragrance that some liken to apples. As a member of the mint family it does have a mild mint flavor, which it gets from its low menthol content. It is more likely that apple mint got the apple part of its name from the shape of its leaves than from its flavor. This herb’s overall flavor profile is not particularly pungent.
Health benefits of apple mint
Apple mint has many of the same health benefits that you get from other mint varieties. As a result, you can use it to get nutrients like:
- Vitamins: Fresh apple mint is a good source of vitamins A and C as well as some B vitamins in lesser amounts.
- Minerals: You can get minerals like iron and calcium from apple mint leaves.
- Eucalyptol: Eucalyptol is one of the main constituents of apple mint’s essential oil and has some major antioxidant benefits.
You can use apple mint to treat or prevent health problems like:
- Inflammatory diseases: Because of its antioxidant properties, apple mint may provide relief from inflammatory diseases like arthritis and heart disease.
- Gastrointestinal issues: Like other members of the mint family, apple mint is great for easing digestive problems like flatulence and constipation. Apple mint’s essential oil also has antiseptic properties. Those properties may make it useful for protecting you from foodborne illnesses.
- Fevers: Mints (including apple mint) have a long history of use as febrifuges.
There is no record of apple mint having toxic effects; however, it is strongly recommended that you avoid this and other mints if you are pregnant. The essential oils from mints like apple mint come with a particularly high risk.
Apple mint in its fresh or dried form is popular as a tea herb. In addition, it is a great mint for making mint jelly. You can use fresh apple mint leaves in fruit salads where you might otherwise use spearmint or other mild mints. You can also use it to give a mild mint flavor to applications like tzatziki sauce. While you can use candied apple mint leaves as a garnish, the fresh leaves may not be as visually appealing because of the hair on their surfaces.
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