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Use mint for summer: Fresh from the garden always tastes better

Ready for tea and summer coolers, fresh mint from the garden helps beat the heat!
Ready for tea and summer coolers, fresh mint from the garden helps beat the heat!
Adrienne Cohen

If you planted a backyard garden, you should be seeing the results by now and, in fact, be close to harvesting the "fruit of your labors." Chances are you'll soon have more basil, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, eggplants and onions than you can consume all by yourself, so now is a good time to gather up some new recipes and prepare to "gift" all your friends with fresh salsas, dips, cooking sauces and some of the fresh produce that you harvest. This has been a good spring for growing here in North Texas, and the periodic rains and high humidity levels are still encouraging garden growth.

Local gardeners with Aquaponics systems, as well as traditional dirt gardeners, report that their first harvests of tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers are almost ready.

And the mint is thriving!

During the hot days of summer ahead, what could be better than sprigs of fresh mint for traditional iced tea and cooling lemonade? But, if you have a garden full of mint and need some ideas, there are a lot of other possibilities! Who know that a lowly herb could pack such a punch?

In addition, you can try out a variety of simple pesto recipes, as well as some salsas with fresh from the garden flavors -- they're all quick, easy and great to have available to serve with grilled meats and as dipping sauces for chips. Summer is a time for kicking back, eating simple, fresh and nutritious foods and enjoying life on a more relaxed schedule.

Plan to whip up these recipes in record time with your just-picked garden bounty, and then enjoy life with your family or with a group of special friends. Make summer special!

Mint is good for more than tea!

While fresh mint is a "go-to" addition for summer tea and lemonade, you can also add some fresh mint leaves to your favorite homemade vanilla ice cream recipe, or keep some handy as garnish for fresh fruit salads or summer desserts. But, if you still have a lot available (and you will, if you have mint in your garden), you’ll want to study up on other great uses for this versatile herb. Once you try some of these ideas, you'll be glad you have a large supply!

This fragrant wonder also attracts beneficial insects, repels the bugs that destroy gardens and helps keep your animals flea-free! It also can freshen your rooms, your breath, and even your attitude.

Once you've used mint for things other than garnishing a special recipe, you'll be sold on its value and you'll never want to have a garden without a patch of mint. The best part about growing it is that it requires almost no care. Now, that's a good deal! You might even want to plant some of the more exotic varieties -- maybe chocolate mint?

Check back throughout the coming week for additional fresh-from-the-garden recipes.

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