Whether you are adding it to a summery drink or making a delicate jelly, you have no doubt run into a recipe that calls for a ‘sprig’ of mint. How much is a ‘sprig’, you may ask? Half a cup maybe or a teaspoon perhaps? With such an unclear term, who knows!
The word ‘sprig’ is often used in reference to many different cooking herbs besides mint. This article will help you figure out how to get just the right amount and what exactly you are supposed to do with it.
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What Exactly is a Sprig of Mint?
When a recipe calls for a sprig of a certain herb like mint, it’s usually referring to a bunch made up of two to three leaves attached to a single stem. Sometimes a three to a four-inch piece of the plant, including the stem, is also called a sprig.
The term ‘sprig’ is used to describe a quantity of many common herbs, including rosemary and thyme. It is suggested that if you do not have the fresh ingredient on hand a heaping 1/2 teaspoon of the dried herb can be used as a replacement. Naturally, mint grows in marshy areas and along meadows and stream banks.
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Most varieties of mint grow rather quickly, reaching nearly 3 feet at full maturity. Most domestic mint is grown in more confined areas, this is meant to keep the mint from taking over other garden plants. Along the long stems of this sun-loving flora, the leaves grow opposite one another on four-sided branches. A full grouping of these leaves is a sprig!
When grown for grocery stores and personal use mint plants usually reach about 2 feet in height. One of the most beneficial elements of mint is that when cut, it will grow back! Often times farmers growing mint will cut back nearly half of the plants’ volume to encourage quick and lush regrowth.
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What is Mint?
Mint is one of the most popular herbs grown not only in the United States but around the world. With over 600 different species worldwide, mint can be identified by its long, square stem and multitudes of branches andserrated,or jagged, leaves. On these branches, mint leaves grow in clumps of three or four leaves. These small clumps are often called a ‘sprig’.
Among the more popular variations, like spearmint and peppermint, there are some types of mint that are more peculiar. Because mint is known to easilycross-pollinatethere are species of pineapple, chocolate and even basil mint that have been created. You could even try your hand at some of these crosses in your own garden!
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Mint is aperennialherb, which means that when planted it will grow back after being dormant over the winter months. Originally found in temperate areas across Europe and Asia, these hardy plants have very fragrant leaves that can come in a variety of colors and textures. Many species of Mint also have an almost fuzzy appearance to them due to hair-liketrichomeson their leaves.
Mint is used in calming teas and has been known for centuries to have soothing digestive properties. The name comes from the Greek word ‘minthe’. The story goes that Minthe was once a nymph who was turned into the herb upon theDark Queen’s disapproval.
Regardless of its origins mint became a symbol of hospitality and graciousness to the Greeks and Romans. Later it was said to be spread on the floors of Synagogues by the Hebrew and was brought by the pilgrims from Britain to the United States.
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How do you use a Sprig?
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When harvested a sprig should comprise of a clump of two to four leaves. These small clumps are sometimes put on the rim of cocktail classes and used as a drink garnish. If used in a recipe for savory dishes, likegarlic lamb, the sprigs must be lightly cooked until fragrant before being added to a sauce or base.
Before use in any other recipe, it is a good idea to softly crush the leaves so that their flavor is released. Keeping the leaves of mint attached to the stem will help you to easily remove it from your dish later.