In Poland mint is used only as a remedy for stomach disorders or as addition to beverages or food decoration. In Ireland I discovered many other culinary uses of this herb. I often use mint sauce to lamb but I often experiment with mint and I add it to some Polish dishes.
There are around seven types of mint, three of which are more commonly used in cooking.
These are spearmint, peppermint and pannyroyal.
Spearmint is used for medicinal purposes and to stimulate appetite. This mint is used in sauces and jellies to flavour meat.
Peppermint has a high menthol content, and is often used as tea and for flavouring ice cream, confectionery, chewing gum, and toothpaste.
Pennyroyal was commonly used by the Greeks and Romans. The ancient Greeks often flavoured their wine with pennyroyal. A large number of recipes in Roman cookbooks of Apicius call for the use of pennyroyal, often along with such herbs as lovage, oregano and coriander. Although it was still commonly used for cooking in the Middle Ages, it gradually fell out of use as a culinary herb and is seldom used so today.
In Ireland mint is generally used to prepare mint sauce. Mint sauce can be made in many ways, but the basic recipe combines the flavour of mint with vinegar and sugar. The following mint sauce is classically used to accompany lamb or mutton.
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves
2 tsp caster sugar
1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
Dissolve sugar in water. Place mint leaves with water and blend until fairly fine. Pour into serving bowl. Add vinegar. Add more sugar or vinegar to taste. Will keep about 2 or 3 weeks in refrigerator.