Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mojito Mint - Herb of the Week

The Mojito, a traditional Cuban cocktail said to be the favorite of the writer Ernest Hemingway,  is made with rum, powdered sugar, lime juice, club soda and a mint unique to Cuba.  Since the true mojito mint is difficult to get “up north,” spearmint is usually substituted.  However I recommend that you grow a plant of Mojito Mint and enjoy its unique minty flavors.

Mojito mint and lemon verbena
True mojito mint known as Mentha x villosa is very different from other mints.  And worthy of being considered for an Herb of the Week

Mojito Mint’s scent and flavor are agreeably mild and warm, not pungent or overly sweet like some mints.  Like all mints it is easy to grow and will provide more than enough fresh sprigs for your mojitos. While recipes call for any available variety of Spearmint, the real mojito can only be made with the true Mojito Mint.

This culinary herb, a native to Cuba, was previously impossible to get in North America but thanks to Toronto mojito enthusiast Catherine Nasmith who visited Cuba in 2006, we now have the authentic plant from Cuba. Not just great in beverages, Mojito Mint also makes a great seasoning for meats and confections.



To Grow

Hardy in zones 5 through 9 it likes partial sun rather than full sun as it will react badly in full sun and high temperaturtes.  It requires normal water and should not be overwatered. The plant will not set seed accurately so it is best not to grow this plant from seed.  Instead gather it by root division, cutting or from a nursery plant.   They do very well in containers.  I grew it in a pot on the porch so I could make a Mojito anytime I wanted!

To Propogate from a stem cutting

This is good with many plants, like rosemary, scented geraniums, any variegated plant or hybrid variation, like Mojito mint.

You will need a mother plant, a sharp knife or scissors, plastic zip seal bags, Hormone rooting powder, growing medium, pots, a dibble (I just use a blunt pencil)

Collect only a small amount of material at a time and be sure to keep it in the zip seal bag to avoid moisture loss.  Choose a sturdy, non-flowering stem with lots of leaves. Cut a section just below the leaf joint and remove all but the top two of three leaves.  Fill a pot with moist growing medium.  Insert the blunt-end of a pencil into the edge of the pot and create a circle of holes. (Do not plant too close together or put one in the direct center of the pot.)  Dip the cuttings into hormone rooting powder, tapping off excess.  Place the cutting into the holes created with the dibble.  No need to fill the holes back in because when you water it the soil fills in itself. Be sure to water the pot lightly.  Cover with a plastic dome, or seal into a gallon sized zip seal bag.  You need to maintain maximum humidity. It will take 2 to 4 weeks for softwood cuttings like mint to root.  Once they are rooted transplant to individual pots.  Be sure to harden them off before moving outdoors.

I do this in the fall to make smaller plants to bring in side, so think about doing it now so the plants will be hardy by the time frost arrives.

If you just want to get a nursery plant, they are generally available from Richter’s Herbs at www.richters.com

To Use

Mojito Mint can be dried and used as a tea.  It has a rich flavor that is perfect with heartier herbs like rosemary and sage.  Mojito is a great herb to use to make scented oil for salves and is a nice ingredient in mint jelly.  You can also make a marinade for chicken or pork with it.  And of course it is the main ingredient in a Mojito Rum Drink.


Cuban Mojito recipethe original authentic recipe from Havana Cuba

1 teaspoon powdered sugar
Juice from 1 lime (2 ounces)
4 mint leaves
1 sprig of mint
Havana Club white Rum (2 ounces)
2 ounces club soda

There are countless recipes for the Mojito (pronounced moh-HEE-toh), but this version is for the one Hemingway himself enjoyed at the Mojito's place of birth: La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba. If you are throwing a Cuban theme party (Havana night themed party), definitely plan on serving mojitos.

Place the mint leaves into a long mojito glass (often called a "collins" glass) and squeeze the juice from a cut lime over it. You'll want about two ounces of lime juice, so it may not require all of the juice from a single lime.

Add the powdered sugar, then gently smash the mint into the lime juice and sugar with a muddler (a long wooden device with a nobby end, though you can also use the back of a fork or spoon if one isn't available). Add ice (preferably crushed) then add the rum and stir, and top off with the club soda (you can also stir the club soda in as per your taste). Garnish with a mint sprig.

The Nojito
Here is a non-alcoholic recipe from recipezaar.com.

crushed ice
8 mint leaves
3 ounces lime juice
1-1/2 ounces sugar syrup
2 ounces club soda
garnish with mint
Fill a pint glass 1/3 full with ice, add mint leaves, lime juice
and sugar syrup. Lightly mash the leaves in the liquid using a
blunt instrument, taking care not to tear the leaves. Fill the
glass with more ice, add club soda, and garnish with mint.


Mojito Marinated Chicken

3/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 cup light rum (2 tablespoons)
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint (finely)
6 tbls. Mojito mint syrup
1 tbls. vegetable oil
1 tbls. kosher salt (coarse)
6 chicken breast halves (with skin and bones about 5 pounds)
3 limes (quartered lengthwise)
1 sprig fresh mint

Directions:
Whisk lime juice, 1/2 cup rum, and next 4 ingredients in bowl. Place chicken in resealable plastic bag. Pour marinade over; seal bag. Turn bag to distribute marinade. Chill 4 hours, turning bag twice. Place lime quarters in shallow bowl. Pour remaining 2 tablespoons rum over, tossing to coat. Let stand at room temperature. Prepare barbecue (medium heat). Grill chicken until cooked through, about 15 minutes per side. Transfer to platter. Grill limes until soft and slightly charred, about 5 minutes. Garnish platter with mint sprigs. Squeeze grilled limes over chicken and serve.

Mint Syrup
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
8 mint leaves

Directions
Combine water and sugar in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling and the sugar has dissolved (creating simple syrup), remove from heat. Rip the mint leaves into small pieces and combine with the hot simple syrup immediately after removing the pot from the heat. Allow the mixture to cool until the pot is cool to the touch. Now, it will be ready to add to a drink or recipe! Refrigerate the left-overs.

1 comment:

  1. thank you for your careful details. I'm going to follow you now.

    ReplyDelete

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