If you’ve ever grown mint, you know it grows like a weed. It can take a little time to get established in your yard or garden, but once it does you won’t have to worry about needing mint ever again.
Some people recommend planting mint in a planter, or a planter that you then bury in the ground, to keep the roots contained. I just haven’t found either method to be very effective. I figure I’ll just let it do its thing. That doesn’t mean I plant mint in the middle of my raised garden beds. Instead, I found an area of the yard that I wasn’t worried about and where weeds typically grew anyway.
Fast forward a few years, and I no longer have an ugly, unmanageable weed patch, I have a mint patch that looks healthy and green for most of the summer. It completely wiped out the weeds in the process. And it doesn’t hurt that it also smells good when you brush up against it. Sure, it managed to spread to two nearby flower beds, but who cares. It’s endless mojito season at my house.
But since we can only drink so many mojitos, there are other uses for mint. Ice cream is a fantastic use for fresh mint that will blow away any store-bought version, especially if you chop up a bar of good dark chocolate and throw that in.
Like any other herb, mint is excellent for flavoring. Add it into iced tea as it steeps, or make a mint simple syrup and use that to both sweeten and flavor at the same time. That’s what happens here with this easy lemon mint ice, perfect for one of those sunny summer days we hope to eventually experience here in Vermont. Crushed ice is combined with lemon juice and a mint syrup to create a flavorful frozen treat that beats any Italian ice you’ll come across this summer.
What’s even better, is that you can use just as much of the flavoring as you like to control the sugar level. Save any of the remaining liquid to make a future batch or use it all at once, it’s up to you. Serve in the hollowed-out lemon shells and impress your friends at your next party.
Lemon mint ice
makes: 8 frozen lemons
1 egg white
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
8 sprigs mint
Wash and scrub each of the lemons. With a sharp knife, slice a thin piece off the bottom of eight of the lemons to create a flat surface that allows the lemons to stand upright. Then, slice off the top of each of those lemons (about ¼ — ½ inch) and set the tops aside. Use a teaspoon to carefully scrape the inside of each lemon, including the juice, seeds and flesh, into a bowl. Try not to scoop through the lemon or tear the skin. Set aside.
Pour ½ cup of the sugar onto a plate. Beat the egg white in a small bowl then brush it onto the skins of each of the hollowed-out lemons. Roll each of the coated lemon shells in the sugar. Place each of them into a large dish as you go and transfer to the freezer for at least an hour.
Meanwhile, in a pot, combine the remaining sugar, water and mint leaves. Stir to submerge the mint and then bring the pot to a simmer. Simmer just long enough to dissolve the sugar. When dissolved, pour the contents into a large jar or bowl and add the reserved lemon juice and flesh. This will be strained later, so don’t worry about the seeds and things. Put the jar into the fridge to cool.
When the lemons are frozen solid and the mint syrup is fully cooled, strain the syrup and lemon juice to remove the mint leaves, seeds and tough lemon bits. Zest that final lemon and add that to the strained mix.
Fill your blender with crushed ice, or like me, use your blender to crush the ice, then add about half of the lemon mint mixture. Run the blender until well combined. Taste and add more of the lemon mint liquid as you like, which will depend on your flavor and sweetness preference and how much ice you have.
Fill each of the lemons with the lemon mint ice. Serve immediately, garnished with the lemon tops and a sprig of mint, or freeze them until ready to eat. You will have plenty of extra ice to enjoy in addition to the lemons, they just make for a nice presentation. Freeze any leftover ice in small containers for individual servings.