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Pineapple mint has variegated foliage, setting it apart from most other mint varieties. Its slightly elongated, ovate leaves are bright green and bordered in a creamy white margin. They are deeply veined and coarse in texture with a layer of fine hairs like those of its parent species, Apple mint. Pineapple mint is a highly aromatic, with sweet tropical notes and minty citrus finish.
Pineapple mint is available year-round, with peak season in the summer.
Pineapple mint is a botanically classified as Mentha suaveolens ‘Variegata’. It is a perennial herb and a subspecies of Apple mint (Mentha suaveolens). Its stunning green and white streaked leaves can occasionally sprout rogue sprigs of solid coloration. Those leaves of pure green must be pruned away, or the variegation will be taken over by the pure green foliage, and any white coloration will be lost. Alternatively, the rare pure white leaf will surely die as it lacks any chlorophyll and is incapable of synthesizing food.
Pineapple mint, like many other varieties in the family, is rich in essential oils that have antiseptic properties.
Pineapple mint is most often used in fresh applications as its delicate aromas are lost when cooked. Use the tender young leaf tops as a garnish for desserts or main dishes in Caribbean and Polynesian cooking. Use the larger more coarse leaves to infuse oils and syrups or steeped in an aromatic tea. Pineapple mint may be substituted for mint in cocktails and frozen dessert applications. To store, keep cool and dry until ready to use.
The Greek philosopher and botanist, Theophrastus, named the Mentha genus from a story in Green Mythology. It was said that the nymph Menthe was so adored by Pluto that Proserpine became jealous and had her turned into the plant that we know as mint.
Mint hybrids commonly occur throughout the Mentha genus and have origins in Europe, Africa and Asia. Pineapple mint has been naturalized in temperate regions of North America and Australia, and can thrive in a variety of different growing conditions provided it has moist soil and full to partial sun exposure. The horizontal growth of its underground rhizomes lend it to aggressive spreading. When left unleashed it quickly overtakes other plants, and is best contained in pots or separate garden beds.