In the floating pots on the dam at Booyong, we have Chocolate mint (Mentha X piperita f. citrata ‘Chocolate’) growing. It is identified by its incredible scent, dark green leaves and deep reddish stems. I confused it with Basil mint (same family) at one stage as they both have a strong and distinct smell, my seed saving friend Penny got me back on the right track – thank you!
Growing – Chocolate mint grows 60cm tall and wide and has high water needs. It is perfectly settled into the floating pot at Booyong, where it is in a rich soil, full sun and late afternoon shade in summer.
Care – If growing in the ground it’s best to contain in a pot or secure area as it will spread out roots underground. Water after the heat of the day in the heat of Summer.
Pruning – Cut back as often as you like.
Pests and Diseases – Snails and aphids are common pests of mints and mint rust is also a possibility.
Mint is said to deter insects like spiders and bugs due to its strong scent.
Harvest – Harvest as required, noting that the scent is stronger just before purple flowers emerge in the height of Summer.
Propagation – Easily obtained by division. You can dry the leaves and store them in a dry jar for later use.
Health Benefits – Mints generally had medicinal and herbal use and can be used as a digestive aid as an herbal tea.
Eating –The parent plant of the chocolate mint is peppermint and you can certainly smell this aroma along with a distinct chocolate scent. It can be used in baking, slices, sweets and breads and added to soups and casseroles. In Summer fresh chocolate mint leaves are a lovely addition to a strawberry salad.
It is a perfect garnish for chocolate desserts like ice cream and can also be used in drinks like hot chocolate and liqueurs. Another idea is to add some dried leaves into your coffee grounds just before you brew.
In Summer you can freeze the leaves in ice cubes to add to your cool drinks for the subtle chocolate mint aroma and do not forget to break up fresh leaves and add them to your fruit salad – delicious!
You can also add crushed leaves to energy balls, we often make them with left over dried fruit, nuts, coconut, and chocolate, yumm!