Provenance and the Plant
River Mint is a mint species within the genus Mentha. and is a native of eastern Australia, but it does occur in every state and territory except Western Australia. It is also naturalized on the North Island of New Zealand. It is usually found in the wild near rivers and creeks.
Mentha is a genus of 25-30 species, occurring in Europe, Asia, North America and with about 7 species in Australia. A number of the exotic species and hybrids are common culinary herbs and other herbs such as thyme, oregano and sage belong to the same family.
Native mints are not often seen in cultivation but they are useful plants for a sunny or shady, moist situation and have culinary uses similar to introduced mint. The leaves of M.australis have a fresh spearmint aroma and flavour. Under optimum conditions it can become invasive but it is usually a difficult plant to grow and success is often more achievable when grown in a container.
However there have been a few growers who have focussed on River Mint and are now growing commercial crops. We have been supporting for some years, through our contributions to the Outback Spirit Foundation , Dominic Smith of Pundi Produce in the Riverland region of SA, who has become the most successful grower in the country of this beautiful herb using an aquaponic system to ensure the plant has similar conditions as on or near to a creek bed. We are also supporting Newchurch Horticulture, operated by Daniel and Ron Newchurch, an Adelaide based successful and enterprising Indigenous owned farm that is also growing River Mint and many other herb plants very successfully.
We are very proud that we source our River Mint through these two Indigenous owned and managed farms.
Dominic Smith from Pundi Produce
Ron Newchurch of Newchurch Horticulture on site in SA's Yorke Peninsula
River Mint, fresh or dried is an intensely flavoured herb so you must use it with discretion. It has a vibrantly fresh, spearminty flavour that has so many applications.
It is perfect of course as a traditional herb to season meats such as lamb, pork, veal and chicken. And boy, it makes a mean mint sauce when infused in a great vinegar. We always have a stock of pepperberry vinegar on hand and making a mint sauce with this and River Mint is to die for!
You can add it dressings to impart that fresh mint flavour, but do use judiciously as it is intense and the flavour keeps developing over a day or so.
In spring when peas are so delicious, try making a gorgeous Fresh Green Pea and River Mint Soup to dazzle your next dinner guests. And of course with the availability of frozen young green peas from the supermarket you can make this at any time.
It works beautifully in desserts too. Add a scant ¼ teaspoon to a sponge or genoise mix for example or a very delicate River Mint panna Cotta.
Some suggested ways to use River Mint are:
Vietnamese style Chicken salad with River Mint and Coriander
Fresh Green Pea and River Mint Soup with Native Mint Yoghurt
Sweet Potato and River Mint Ravioli with Burnt Butter Sauce
River Mint and Garlic Butter
Roast Loin of Pork with River Mint and Apple Stuffing and Wild Herb Salt Scented Crackling
River Mint and Mustard Lamb Fillets with Quandong and Peach Sauce
French Toast with Fetta Apple Onion and River Mint