I'll get the disappointing part of my post out of the way first: I don't have a new flavor of ice cream this week because I heated up the base at too high a temperature and I burned enough of the sugars in it to make it taste more like burnt caramel than mint.
I'm really bummed that this ice cream, which was going to be Triple Mint Chocolate Chip, with spearmint and peppermint from both my garden and Sandbrook Meadow Farm and mountain mint from my garden, didn't come to fruition. I was in too big of a hurry to complete the process of steeping the mints in the base so I could get the mix into the batch freezer. I'm reminded of a guy in my organic chemistry lab in college whose friends would rag on him for "cheesing" on his experiments. If you were supposed to let some mixture boil for at least 45 minutes, he'd get impatient and move on to the next step after about 25. The other kids in class—and our professor even got in on the act once—would say that Dennis was cheesing again when they'd see him farther along on the experiment than he reasonably could have been.
I was excited to finally be using mountain mint, which I mention on my Ice Creams page, in one of my frozen desserts. I bought the hoary and whorled varieties from Toadshade Wildflower Farm, my fellow vendor at the market, last fall. The hoary MM has thrived in a container on our deck; the whorled one, not so much. I planted them there—near pots containing my other mints, including the pineapple mint Kurt gave me, which is doing nicely; other herbs; tomatoes; hot and sweet peppers; and flowers—because we don't have too many spots on our property that get a decent amount of sun and these MMs like at least a partially sunny location.
This article from Mother Earth Living notes that more than 20 varieties of MM are native to the U.S. It also suggests that my hoary MM—which has hairs on its relatively thin leaves—is perfectly safe to consume. Some MMs contain high levels of pulegone, the chemical compound that makes pennyroyal an effective insect repellant and also toxic to consume. Other articles I found online raised doubts in my head about the safety of all MMs, though I also learned that even widely consumed mints like peppermint contain some pulegone. (That MEL article misspells pulegone as "pugelone.")
I asked Toadshade's Dr. Randi Eckel to weigh in, and here's what she said: "As far as I can tell, Pulegone is present in the shoots (but allegedly not the leaf) of Mountain Mints (Pycnanthemum sp.). I never use the shoots to make tea, only the leaves. Also, please note: the concentrations are more along the lines of the Pulegone found in spearmint (between 1 and 4% of the concentration found in Pennyroyal)." 👍
When I prepared my mints, I stripped the leaves off the hoary MM stems.
The aroma is clearly minty but noticeably different from the mints we're used to encountering in teas and toothpastes. I was tempted to say it's less refined than cultivated spearmint or peppermint because it's a wild plant, but I actually find it to be somewhat "prettier" than those mints. Anyhow, it's unusual and cool, and at some point, I'll make an ice cream that incorporates it.
But I won't be making it this year because the base I burned was the last bag of ice cream base I had for this season. *sigh*
Now on to the happier item: I made a Pomegranate Vegan Frozen Dessert that both Official Taste Tester Sheila and I thought was a winner. Its color is pretty dull ...
... but it's got a wonderful flavor that seems appropriate for fall.
I expect to go to the market for only three more Sundays. I hope to see you there.