Candied Mint Leaves Recipe
Candied mint is easy to make and use—as a festive garnish for desserts, a sparkly addition to floral decorations and an aromatic touch of frost to holiday gifts.
The same techniques used to candy mint can be used to candy any herb leaf, potted herb plant or herbal topiary. Small fruits like grapes and cherries are also easy to candy.
In addition to fresh mint, all that's required to make candied mint leaves is egg white or flavored water, sugar and a pastry brush.
Selecting Mint to Candy
The family of mint plants (Mentha) has many members, peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, pennyroyal and lemon balm among them.
In general, mint leaves grow in whorls or spikes on squarish stems. Their flowers are usually a shade of purple. Each type of mint has its own distinct scent and flavor, some more appealing than others. The flavor is strongest when it's not in bloom.
When choosing mint to candy for a floral arrangement, pick one with leaves that have a shape you like. Since it's unlikely that the garnish will be eaten, taste and aroma can become a secondary consideration. The leaves of catmint, for instance, are particularly attractive—soft and heart-shaped—but they have a strong taste and, when roughed, a pungent aroma.
For garnishes that are likely to be sampled, fresh peppermint and spearmint, which have a taste and scent most people enjoy, are good choices for candying.
Collecting Fresh Mint
The best time to collect herbs is early in the morning when plant stems are filled with moisture and at their freshest. Select the healthiest stems with the greenest leaves.
If you don't plan to candy the mint leaves immediately, take along a container of water with a few squeezes of lemon added to it when collecting cuttings. After snipping off the stems, stick them in the lemon water to keep them plump and fresh.
Cleaning Fresh Mint
Before candying the mint, wash it well in cold, running water. Although most herbs, including mint, are virtually pest-free, it's important to wash the leaves well to remove dirt and other debris.
Once they're well washed, blot the leaves with cloth or paper towels to remove any residual contaminants.
How to Candy Mint Leaves
For a frosted look, use powdered sugar. For leaves that sparkle, use superfine granulated sugar or regular granulated sugar that's been processed in a blender.
- fresh mint leaves, washed
- 1 egg white or cup of water
- 1-3 Tbsp. powdered sugar or superfine granulated sugar
- 1-3 drops mint extra or vanilla, optional
- Break open a fresh egg, separating and discarding the yolk. If not using egg white, add 1-3 drops of extract to a cup of water. Extract may also be added to the egg white.
- With a pastry brush, apply the egg white to both sides of clean mint leaves. Or, dip or brush the leaves in flavored water.
- Dust the leaves lightly with sugar. To catch the excess, place a piece of paper under the leaves.
- Set the leaves aside to dry. They'll harden or "candy" in about three hours.
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