Okay, so I totally ripped off the tag line from a famous mint chewing gum - well, sort of. I changed it a smidge because it's trademarked but, it seemed like a fitting tag line to use when discussing peppermint vs. spearmint. So, what's the difference? Well, here's a little overview.
Peppermint is a hybrid of spearmint. It's also been called American mint , lamb mint (or lammint). It was native to Europe and brought to America by the colonists. The leaves are 1 to 2 inches long and have a toothy edge. Peppermint is used in tea and for flavoring ice cream, candy, gum, toothpaste.
Spearmint, also a native of Europe, is referred to as common mint, garden mint, Our Lady's mint, and sage of Bethlehem. The leaves are long, spear-shaped and attach to the stalk of the plant vs. stems. Spearmint is most commonly used in teas, mint juleps, mojitos, candy, and gum.
Although they both come from the mentha family, peppermint contains more menthol so it may seem stronger. Spearmint is sometimes described as greener or sweeter while peppermint has a candy cane flavor.
I don't think you can go wrong with either one, it's basically a personal choice according to what you are going to use it for or which plant you like the looks of best.
These perennial herbs thrive in moist, part-sun to shady locations, and expand quickly by underground rhizomes or runners (these are sneaky little shoots that pop up in seemingly random places). I planted some mint in a container full of various herbs thinking, novice gardener that I am, that I could control the stuff with pruning. Wrong! I learned quickly that there is no use struggling with it, because it WILL to take over. So, I suggest if you plant it, give it its own pot and don't plant it in your open garden.
Mint is best used fresh and should be stored only briefly, in plastic bags or in the refrigerator. Here are some ideas for using fresh mint:
What is your favorite mint - peppermint or spearmint? What do you make with fresh mint?
Basilandcatnip - What a fun image! I can imagine your dad roaming his garden with a mint leaf in his cheek. Thanks for sharing. ~ Chef Erin
I have to chuckle, you're right it will take over a garden. My dad has always kept an herb garden, so growing up I always had fresh varieties of mint. I love them all. And it's fun trying a new variety or recipe. Tea seems to be the staple but use them in a variety of foods too and decorating a plate. My dad has always just tucked one in his cheek and gum as a pick me up as he explores the rest of the garden.
Thanks for weighing in. By the way, I prefer peppermint over spearmint. What about you? ~ Chef Erin
Great for mojitos!! I agree
I am a big fan of the mojito too! Here are some more ideas for mint - mint in tabouleh salad, roasted beets with feta and mint, steamed carrots with mint, fennel and orange salad with mint. And, I made peas with minted butter the other night - Delicious! ~ Chef Erin
love it for mojitos and mint julips!
wow, thanks for the great mint tips. I am just starting to see it appear at my local produce market and now have some great ides of what to do with it