22 June 2011

Chef + plant breeder + mint = exciting new flavors

Longtime readers will know that I love the intersection of plant breeding and great food, which is why I was so excited when looking through Richters Herbs' website, I noticed their mint offerings. I know the usual varieties: spearmint, peppermint, apple, pineapple, and chocolate mint, but here was a whole new range of mints with names like 'Candy Lime', 'Wintergreen', 'Berries and Cream', and even 'Oregano-thyme'! Reading the descriptions got me even more excited. These are part of a whole series of varieties developed by one Jim Westerfield who, in addition to being a plant breeder and mint enthusiast, is creator of an award winning gourmet restaurant, Westerfield House! I had to order some.
As soon as the box arrived, I pulled them out and start sniffing and nibbling my way through the selections. I wasn't disappointed. We're talking whole new sets of flavors here. I can't wait to start cooking with them! And they're mints, which means easy (sometimes too easy...) to grow!

Here are the 5 varieties I ordered, and my comments on them:

I was skeptical about this one... really? Wintergreen? The dominate flavor is still mint, but there is a pronounced real winter green flavor as well! It also must have a really high methol concentration, because chewing a leaf fills your mouth with that distinctive tingly cooling sensation. I love making mint lemonade... this variety would be perfect for it! Or a mint-berry smoothie! Or... so much more! I hope this guy is a vigorous as most mints, because I'm going to be harvesting a lot of it.

Again, I had to order this one because I couldn't quite believe it. Chewing a leaf, I don't know if I'd say oregano or thyme, but the flavor is definitely some sort of cross between mint and something of the rosemary-oregano-sage-thyme ilk. It really feels like a NEW flavor to play with! I can't wait to get it in the kitchen.

'Candy Lime'
This one is delicious. I mean, really, really delicious. Perhaps my favorite flavor just nibbling the leaves straight off the plant. It does indeed have a hint of lime to it, enough to make my boyfriend instantly say "Mojito!"

'Fruit Sensations'
I was a little disappointed here. This one tastes like mint. A very good mint, but nothing extraordinary. In other company, I would probably rave about it, but when the others are so delicious, I don't think I'll really ever use this one.

'Citrus Kitchen'
This one is also quite delicious, and surprisingly has a definite orange flavor to it. My first thought was that this is what I wish mint chocolate chip ice cream tasted like. Now I might have to get an ice cream maker... The tag recommends putting it in orange juice. I might just have to try that.


Fern @ Life on the Balcony said...

Joseph--I love unusual herbs too! I have several different specialty mints, thymes, and basils. It's so much fun to cook with herbs that have a hint of something unusual. Going to have to check Richter's selection out, I could use a candy lime mint...

Green Zebra Market Garden said...

When do you graduate Joseph? I haven't seen you around much lately.

Joseph said...

Green zebra,
Hopefully August. I'm basically just writing now, so I've been working from home.

Joseph said...

Yes, they're really fun! I keep collecting more and more different herbs.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to have to go check some of these out. Richters is actually not that far a drive for me and right around the corner from my favourite independent garden center (and yet for some reason I've never been). There are definitely a few of these mints I need to look into.

Tom said...

Hrm...I'm not sure how I feel about these... actually the fruity ones are probably fine by my judgement (I like peppermind and can stand pineapple mint but that's about it). I'm vaguely horrified by the oregano-thyme one though! Horrified yet extremely curious. Either way I'm glad you reminded me of Richter's existance, now I'm going to spend all morning on their website!

Cyndy said...

Candy Lime sounds delicious! Good luck with your thesis this summer - don't stay locked inside for all the daylight hours :)

Unknown said...

I agree with your boyfriend on the mojitos! I think that I need to get some of those mints myself to try... maybe the orange one would even make me like orange juice again! (Bad experience with screwdrivers... *sigh*)

Anonymous said...

I wonder whether it's possible to cross mint with a bee balm (monarda)

greenhousewarehouse said...

I always get excited when I hear about a sale price in plants and other garden products. So reading this blog is something quite special.