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I just moved into a house with a large quantity of mint growing in the yard.

It is late in the season and a lot of the mint is going to seed.

I picked two packed cups of leaves and trimmed off all the stems. I pulsed the leaves in the food processor with granulated sugar until it was a paste. I then used the paste as the flavoring for homemade ice cream.

The ice cream texture was fantastic but the flavor wasn't. It was weirdly grassy and not very minty at all. The kids wouldn't even eat it until I added a good quantity of mint extract to fix it.

I thought the mint leaves themselves were minty enough.

This is my first time using fresh mint this way. Did I use the mint improperly or is mint only used very young?

  • I don't know what the answer to your question is but I have noticed that I find there to be a lot of bitterness in mint leaves... perhaps it would be better to make a mint syrup and remove the leaves? – Catija Aug 11 '15 at 1:05
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    There are a number of different varieties of "wild mint" and some are, frankly, not that minty: M. arvensis, canadensis, and a wild spearmint (spicata) to name a few. A friend of mine nicknamed one type that grows near him as "oregamint" because it has a distinct oregano smell. Some species are rather invasive, very tough, and not very tasty. Do you know what kind of mint it is? How does it smell or taste when freshly picked, crushed, or eaten? – hoc_age Aug 11 '15 at 1:12
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    It's hard to answer this question because there are many varieties of mint and not all taste the same. If you chew one of the mint leaves do you get a strong mint flavor? – GdD Aug 11 '15 at 8:02
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    As @hoc_age age says you could be dealing with a varietal that's unsuitable for cooking. I'd urge you to take a photo of the mint and post it to the Gardening & Landscaping site for identification (ID questions are on-topic there). – user25798 Aug 11 '15 at 14:54
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    I doubt the mint is wild. It was clearly intentionally planted. The leaves had a reasonably strong mint flavor but not as strong as I expected. I'm going to try again in the spring. – Sobachatina Aug 11 '15 at 14:56
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While it is true that there are a variety of mints, I think your biggest challenge is that it is "late in the season." I find that here (Philly, USA), in August, all of my herbs tend to develop a bitterness that is not there in spring and early summer. While it may be the variety, I don't think it is the age of the plant, as my mint comes back each year as well. It seems that the "soft" herbs are just past their prime now. My rosemary and sage are fine, thyme is ok, but softer herbs like basil and lovage have a higher bitter component. Try your mint again in the spring.

Another thought: Pulsing into a paste my also bring out flavor components that are not desirable. What about steeping the leaves in the milk and cream (this would work if you are making a custard based ice cream and heating the cream), then straining them out?

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    Certainly is the case that such herbs will be less "herby" (e.g., more bitter, less aromatic) after flowering/seeding in general. +1 insightful for this point alone! – hoc_age Aug 11 '15 at 2:15
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I think you might get better, less-grassy results by steeping the mint in the cream (heat the cream first) but not actually including the leaves in the ice cream. You want to get the aromatic oil to provide the mintiness, but leave out the actual greens which are making it grassy and herbal.

Another option, as suggested in comments, would be to make a syrup with the mint and sugar. This would probably increase the liquid in the recipe so would require adjustment.

I wonder if you could make mint sugar as you would vanilla sugar or if the mint leaves would go moldy instead of drying out in the sugar? I think it would be worth trying... Start with a layer of sugar covering the bottom of the container, add a layer of leaves, completely cover with sugar, add more leaves, cover, etc. Seal and store in a cool, dry place. When the leaves have dried up, remove them and hopefully the sugar will be minty.

  • For what it's worth, the recipe in The Perfect Scoop has you steep the mint, and it definitely works well. I've never tried blending it in, though - my guess would be it'd be bitter at least, not totally sure about grassy. – Cascabel Aug 11 '15 at 5:33
  • I was going from a recipe that recommended the blending with sugar approach. I'll try steeping next time. – Sobachatina Aug 11 '15 at 14:57
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haha you posted this a long time ago but there are different types of mints. the mint in your backyard is not spearmint (the kind of mint that has that menthol, cool flavour) and instead you probably have peppermint (which is always grassy tasting).

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    The menthol content of peppermint is higher than that of spearmint, and is in my experience the common type of mint used for ice cream. – Sneftel Jul 9 '18 at 12:41

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