Peppermint vs Mint: Aren’t They The Same?

Peppermint

Peppermint and mint are not the same. The key difference between peppermint and mint is their menthol content. Peppermint has 40% of menthol, while other types of mint, such as spearmint, contain 0,5% of menthol.

Peppermint has a more pronounced and stronger flavor than the other types of mint. There are about 24 species of mint, like sweet mint, water mint, wild mint, apple mint, and chocolate mint.

However, some of the most used types of mint in beverages and cooking are curly mint, spearmint, and peppermint.

Mint also known as mentha is not just one herb. It is the common name for the different types of aromatic herbs which belong to the Lamiaceae family.

They all have a unique flavor and aroma and different menthol content. And if a recipe calls for mint it is usually spearmint as one of the most used mints.

Mint has a warm, herbal, fresh, sweet flavor and provides a cooling effect on the tongue. It pairs well with lamb and poultry; therefore, it is used in many different dishes.

Peppermint vs Mint: What’s The Difference?

Mint

Mint leaves can be used fresh or dried in different sauces, marinades, stews, salads, baked goods, jellies, candies, syrups, curries, ice-creams, hot and cold beverages.

Peppermint, on the other hand, is a hybrid between spearmint and watermint with a high content of menthol and has a stronger mint flavor than the other types of mint.

Therefore, peppermint is used in recipes where a stronger mint flavor is required. You can use dried or fresh peppermint in salads, dressings, sauces, biscuits, ice cream, baked goods, candy, chocolate, hot and cold beverages. Peppermint essential oil is extracted from the peppermint leaves and is used for the preparation of the peppermint extract.

For its preparation, peppermint essential oil is dissolved in alcohol. This extract is used to treat joint pain, headache, itching, reduce pain and stress, and treat colds and coughs.

Because of its strong mint scent, peppermint extract is also used in the production of shampoos, soaps, toothpaste, alcoholic beverages, chewing gums, cleaning products,  products for skincare, and as a dietary supplement.

Mint extract is made in the same manner but from the mixture of the essential oils from peppermint and spearmint. Therefore, its flavor is a mixture of the flavors of peppermint and spearmint.

Mint extract has a milder mint flavor than peppermint extract and is used to give a flavor to various baked goods, marinades, dressings, teas, fruit dishes, and vinegar.

You can make peppermint and mint extracts at home if you have some fresh peppermint or mint herbs and vodka. That way you will always have a mint or peppermint extract on hand when you need it.

Peppermint vs Mint: Comparison Chart

Characteristics Peppermint Mint
Appearance Purple less hairy steams and rounded, thinner leaves with darker green color, purple veins, and edges. Green square and hairy stems, and hairy, light green leaves with sharper edges.
Flavor Strong menthol flavor A sweet, fresh menthol flavor
Menthol content About 40% 0,5%
Uses Salads, dressings, sauces, ice-cream, biscuits, baked goods, candy, chocolate, hot and cold beverages Sauces, marinades, stews, salads, baked goods, jellies, candies, syrups, curries, ice-creams,  hot and cold beverages

Can You Substitute Peppermint For Mint?

Peppermint has a stronger flavor than mint. However, you can use it in a smaller amount as a substitute for mint.

Mint gives sweet and refreshing flavor to sweet and savory dishes and beverages. Peppermint, on the other hand, has a more pronounced flavor. It will also give a nice menthol flavor to your dishes or beverages. However, use it in smaller amounts because it can easily overpower them.

Is Peppermint Made From Mint Leaves?

Peppermint is not made from mint leaves.

It is a type of mint, a hybrid between spearmint and watermint with a similar but stronger flavor than spearmint because of the higher concentration of menthol in its content.

Peppermint and mint are similar in flavor, appearance, uses, and the way they are grown. So, you can use mint if you want to give a sweet and refreshing flavor to your food, or peppermint if you need a more potent mint flavor in your dish.

Does Peppermint Smell Like Mint?

Peppermint smells like mint. However, it has a more intensive and sharp smell than mint and should be used in smaller quantities not to overpower the other ingredients in the dish.

Is Peppermint Or Mint Extract Better?

Peppermint Extract

Peppermint and mint extracts are both good. Therefore, it depends on your taste which one you use.

Peppermint extract is made from the essential oils that peppermint leaves contain. Mint extract, on the other hand, is made from a mixture of essential oils from different types of mint such as peppermint and spearmint.

Peppermint and mint extracts are used both in sweet and savory recipes.

Peppermint extract works great in sauces, roasted meats, vegetables, desserts, and beverages, while mint extract pairs well with lamb. It also works well in sauces, as a rub for lamb, with peas, potatoes, and in chocolate desserts.

What Flavor Goes With Mint?

Mint has an aromatic and refreshing flavor and is used both in sweet and savory dishes, hot and cold beverages.

Some of the flavors that go well with mint include dill, ginger, cumin, parsley, cucumbers, chocolate, beans, lamb, coffee flavors, figs, limes, oranges, chilly, cinnamon, strawberries, pineapples, and many other ingredients.

What Fruits Pair Well With Mint?

Mint also pairs well with fruits like berries, limes, oranges, apricots, figs, cherries, plums, apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, and pineapple.

You can make a delicious and refreshing fruit salad in no time. Mix your favorite fruit, top it with some honey and fresh chopped mint, and enjoy. 

How Do You Identify Peppermint?

The best way to identify peppermint is thru a sniff test. Just take a leaf and crush it between your fingers, give it a sniff. If it has a strong mint smell it is peppermint.

You can also identify peppermint by the way it looks. Because peppermint leaves are more rounded, thinner with darker green color. Peppermint can also have purple, less hairy stems and leaves with purple veins and edges.

After all, if you are not sure that you have a peppermint plant you can taste a leaf. If it has a pungent mint flavor that will leave a cooling sensation in your mouth you have a peppermint plant.

Conclusion

Although peppermint and mint belong to the same family, they are different.

They look and taste different and are used in different recipes. But to know in which recipes you can use them you have to know their flavor profile.

Mint and peppermint are versatile herbs, so you can even grow them in your yard. They are easy to grow, and you will always have them fresh or dried in your favorite recipes.

Which one do you like more peppermint or some other type of mint? How are you using them in your recipes? We will be happy to read in the comment section down below!

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