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California Heartland


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  Season 8 - Episode 810





How many everyday products are made with the peppermint plant? The answer may surprise you! The extract from this aromatic herb is an ingredient found in toothpaste, mouthwash, chewing gum, medicine, and even dental floss! The plant's natural menthol creates the cool sensation found in many of these products. But, for most of us peppermint satisfies our sweet tooth. From candies to cookies to ice cream, peppermint products are packed with flavor!

To find out more about peppermint, we traveled to the Fall River Valley in the northeastern part of the state. This is where we met farmer Steve Albaugh who grows 800 acres of this potent plant. Harvesting takes place from July to September. Then the peppermint is hauled off to a distillery for oil processing. The first step involves cooking the peppermint in a mint tub at 230 degrees. After it cooks, the vapor is condensed and the oil is extracted. It takes 80 pounds of fresh peppermint to make just one pound of the oil. But, because the oil is so concentrated, a little goes a long way. In fact, one pound of peppermint oil is potent enough to flavor 40,000 pieces of peppermint candy or 40,000 sticks of gum. Steve's oil is exported to Europe, China, and India, but his major buyer is Colgate. The company uses the oil to flavor its toothpaste.

Now, if you'd rather use the extract to make some sweet treats, here are a few recipes from Steve Albaugh.

Peppermint Candy Cane Cookies Recipe

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups butter or margarine (softened)
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
1/2 tsp. red food coloring
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract

In a large bowl, measure flour, butter, sugar, vanilla extract, salt, and egg. With mixer at low speed, beat ingredients until well blended.

Set aside half of the dough. With the other half of the dough, knead in red food coloring and peppermint extract until blended.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. On a lightly floured surface, roll one rounded teaspoonful of the plain dough with hands into a 4-inch long rope. Repeat, using same amount of red dough. Place the ropes side by side and gently twist together, pinch ends and seal. Curve one end of the twisted rope to form the handle of the candy cane. With a spatula, place cookie on ungreased large cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.

Bake cookies 10 minutes until lightly browned. With spatula, remove cookies and place on wire racks to cool. Makes about 4 1/2 dozen cookies. 75 calories per cookie.

Mint Flavored Ice Cream Recipe

4 eggs
2 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
5 cups milk
4 cups heavy cream
2 tbs. peppermint extract
1 cup small chocolate chips
green food coloring

Beat eggs in mixer and add sugar and salt. Continue to beat until stiff. Add milk, cream, flavoring, coloring and chips. This mix is now ready for your freezer. Enjoy!!!






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