Orange mint is a cultivar of mint that combines the flavors of mint and citrus with notes of lavender. While the different elements of its flavor profile are familiar, this peppermint relative is not as simple to use as you might think. Here are some dos and don’ts of orange mint to help you maximize its potential.
Do preserve orange mint in the right ways.
Like other fresh herbs, orange mint will have a short shelf life unless you take the right steps to preserve it. Preservation methods for orange mint include freezing and dehydration. You can freeze orange mint leaves in ice cubes and use those ice cubes in cooked dishes that can benefit from the herb’s flavor.
Orange mint stands up well to drying, your options include drying it in a food dehydrator or air drying it. The latter method involves hanging it in a location with moving air. Alternatively, you can preserve orange mint leaves in vinegar. In a pinch, you can try drying your orange mint leaves in a microwave or a conventional oven.
Do use orange mint to provide a new twist on recipes that require peppermint.
Because peppermint is a close relative of orange mint, the two can work as alternatives to each other in many recipes. Both herbs work in candies and cream desserts and they are especially effective when you pair them with chocolate. Use orange mint to flavor ice cream or chocolate desserts. It will work in cake and cookie recipes as well as in soufflés and puddings.
Do use orange mint in dishes that benefit from the paired flavors of the orange fruit and the mint herb.
These dishes include salads and beverages. You can try using orange mint raw in salads. If you find that orange mint’s pungent flavor is too intense to work as a salad green, try using finely julienned orange mint leaves in a vinaigrette.
Orange mint works best in beverages and is especially popular as a tea herb. You can use dried and fresh orange mint to make a flavorful tea either by itself or in combination with other flavorful herbs. Orange mint works in citrus-based cocktails like mojitos as well.
Do use orange mint as a substitute for the other mint herbs with citrus flavor notes.
Orange mint belongs on a list of notable mint relatives that also have a hint of citrus in their flavor profiles. These herbs include lemon mint as well as lemon thyme and lemon basil. You can use it in place of all of those. While it won’t work as a perfect substitute — it offers a slightly different flavor profile — it offers enough of the herbaceous and fruity elements that it won’t ruin a recipe and may in fact improve it.
Do use orange mint to make an extract.
You can do this by soaking orange mint in vodka for about a month. Pour off the vodka and use it as your extract. You can use your extract in baking or to make a simple syrup for cocktails.
Don’t use orange mint as a 1:1 substitute for other mints and especially for peppermint.
Like its parent plant watermint, orange mint has a reputation for its highly concentrated flavor and aroma. It’s easy to go overboard with it. Overly minty food can be bitter to the point of being unpalatable. Use it in moderation.