Fresh Mint Milkshakes: Best Made at Home!


delicious mint shake

*um* The awkward twist of my hand was my attempt to hide a bloody scrape on my hand, my dirty fingernails with the remnants of an Ellie-mani on them, and my grubby hands. (I guess it didn’t exactly work.)

(Note to gentle readers: I’m working on getting a “skip to the recipe” button, but you’ll have to bear with me one more time as I haven’t gotten one installed yet. If you’re in a hurry for the recipe, just s c r o l l !!

I was working in my hoop house one day this week, wondering how exactly to protect the big beautiful mint plants from the encroaching, not-to-be-denied bitter weather that was coming (and did, indeed, come). My excellent mentor-cum-biz-partner Gene gave them to me, and they are gorgeous. Pinching a bit of the Kentucky Colonel mint variety and breathing in the scent startled me for just a moment, and then brought back a delicious memory. It was a memory from a few years ago, from a trip we took.

We took a trip to New Zealand, in February, the fam and me–actually, we took two. (I KNOW. I’m a lucky lady.)

In our Midwestern way, we only took it because of an Important Reason: my hubby had been asked to teach a course at a Bible college there. He was able to raise money for his (expensive) ticket, but the kids and I determined to go, too, so we started our Farmer’s Market business (which led to my penning this guide) to earn the funds to go with him. We did it, we went along, and that market gig lasted over five years.

If you reside in an area where winter can be a real trial, you can understand why escaping planning a trek to a warm temperate area of the world in February (in particular) is such a boon to ones spirits.

For example. We just got our first snow this week. It’s October, folks (or it was when I typed this). There’s a Winter Storm Warning issued by the weather service for tomorrow. Again: October. So by February? You’ve just–about–had–it.

So . . . in October I begin to think about beaches, and trips, and getting onto a big airplane where pleasant young ladies bring me interesting sandwiches and cold beverages, and traveling far, far away. Just for a week or two. Possibly, three. Yes, three is optimal.

Please don’t misunderstand. I love my life. I am a grateful girl. I love our place, and our peoples. Especially our peoples. But the days are getting shorter and we’re facing the inevitable daylight savings time change, which throws me for a horrid, droopy loop every year. The gardens are still a big mess. I need a month of open days–rife with warm sunshine and birdsong–to get everything cleaned up and I’m not gonna get them. The weatherman annoyed me to no end to announce happily that we’ll probably have snow on the ground by the end of this week. Snow? Already?! Is he kidding?? Is the man aware of the fact that it is, in fact, only the early days of November?

So. What’s the next best thing to actually getting all the chores done that you really need to get done, before the snow flies and the ground freezes hard as granite?

Easy: Flying to New Zealand, and staying there for a few weeks. Can I get an “AMEN, SISTER?”

I can guarantee you that tearing down tomato cages and cleaning up weedy beds are the last thing on my mind in the particular scenario pictured below . . . . . *siiiiiigh*

My preferred hangout in the winter. *siiigh*

Mack and me on the beach near Mount Maunganui. (That bag I’m holding is full of shells, my toes are crusted with sand, and my heart is full of happiness.) Me: “Look! Surf! I’m gonna take a picture of SURF. We are in New Zealand, it’s February, and we’re standing in the SURF, Mack.”

If the family’s coffers aren’t so enthusiastically agreeable, regarding this plan (which they most certainly are not at our place, alas) there are other ways to cope with the week that winter shows up.

And that’s where the pinched sprig of mint and resultant stirring memory comes in. We were walking along the beach at Mount Maunganui one day, contemplating whether to blow our last bit of cash on surfing lessons with the tan and toned kiwi surfer dude Sean who was hawking them on a dune near us (ooh! my vote!), a round of fancy coffees and pastries at the coffee shops near the Mount (Amalia’s choice) or souvenirs from the shops (“let’s do them all!” voted Mack.)

Then we saw it. A little ice cream truck with a list of shakes as long as the surf board. “Ice cream! Let’s get ice cream!” said Mack. New Zealand ice cream is full-fat and amazingly delicious. (They don’t have to worry about calories or fat counts, because of agreeable young men like Sean who can teach them active sports like surfing). The others agreed with Mack. Bryan thought a round of ice creams would take care of our budget. He frowned and said that we probably couldn’t afford Sean (shoot). I was outvoted, and threw one last glance over my shoulder at Sean, and we turned toward the ice cream.

Since our only two actual goals when we went to New Zealand were to 1. walk on the beach every day, and to 2. eat the excellent New Zealand ice cream daily as well, it was important to go for the ice cream. We are all about goal-setting, you know. And we hadn’t had our ice cream that day. (I wrote a couple posts about that experience. Here’s one about a Nebraska treat I made while we were there.)

Bryan, reading from the list posted on the side of the truck, suddenly became very animated. “Spearmint shakes?! I love spearmint!” It’s true. The man wasn’t lying. My hubby loves the taste of spearmint. Not peppermint, not chocolate mint, not ginger mint (definitely not ginger mint), not any other mint (which is a shame, because thanks to Gene, I have ten types of mint growing in my hoop house!). Spearmint is the thing.

Now I don’t even remember what my flavor was, but I do remember that Bryan’s spearmint shake was absolutely, wondrously delicious. At his behest, I took a tiny taste, only to discover that it was far and away superior to my choice. My choice (obviously) was forgettable, especially compared to that spearmint. Suddenly I was filled with the longing to konk my hubby (gently, but hard enough to render him senseless for about three minutes) on his curly head, quickly drain his shake all the way down to the very dregs, and then run off and hide someplace. Sean would have pointed out a secluded cove, probably. It was so scrummy, as they might say in New Zealand. Sweet as.

The spearmint shake, that is. It didn’t taste artificial or over-sweetened. It tasted as if it had been conjured up by an old farm lady with a fistful of fresh spearmint leaves. There was something very captivating about the combination of fresh spearmint and vanilla ice cream. Minty. Refreshing. Sweet, and creamy. Konk-worthy, you might say. You can picture it, can’t you, gentle reader?

Back to the event of mint-tasting, a couple days ago. Winter is coming, as I mentioned about an hour ago. I am in denial about this fact, as per usual, and griping and moaning to anybody who will listen, amen and amen. I am standing in my hoop house, eyeing the big mint plants that my mentor-cum-biz partner Gene has given me, and chewing a taste of Kentucky Colonel mint, and deja-vuing alllll over the place. I’ve been pruning them one by one, as I prepare them for winter, and I always end up with a big handful of mint leaves: post-pruning rewards. Chocolate mint, ginger mint, pineapple mint, doublemint . . . and (you guessed it) Kentucky Colonel spearmint.


The delicious idea begins to spread in my mind, like creamy faint green melted ice cream, into all the creases and crevasses of brain matter, and it begins to make me just a little happy. No, I’m not thinking about Sean, but rather a Spearmint shake, made especially delicious with Nebraska-grown spearmint leaves.

two men working on high tunnel

My. Heroes.

Bryan and Mack were toiling away at their unpaid slave project du jour: my second hoop house, and it made me exceedingly happy to be able to march to the house with a handful of mint leaves clutched in my dirty maw, knowing that I was going to be able to make them something that would repay them . . . if just a little bit . . . for their wretched toil.

And bonus: for such a superior shake, it is very easy to make! Check out my recipe below. A monkey could make it.

(This recipe makes enough for 4 smallish-sized shakes. You can always double it if you have a houseful, which I usually do.)

You will need:

  • about 2 cups of fresh mint leaves, plucked from the stems, washed, and lightly packed
  • one lovely sprig, held back, per shake (beauty for beauty’s sake)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups vanilla ice cream
  • cheese cloth or clean tea towel


  • Add one cup of fresh mint leaves and water to a food processor. Grind until smooth.
  • Place a cheese cloth or tea towel in a small bowl. Pour the ground mint leaves into the cheese cloth.
  • Twist the cheese cloth with the mint into a ball and squeeze to expel as much of the liquid as possible.
  • This is the clever part, and never forget it. You are an exceptional, clever human being capable of BIG THINGS. Like making homemade spearmint shakes.

Creating the Mint Base

  • Add the mint liquid, milk, and sugar to a small saucepan over medium heat.
  • Heat to a low boil and turn off.
  • Allow mint to steep in the warm milk for about 15 minutes before transferring to a bowl and chilling for at least 1 hour before using.
  • This is the hard part, always. The waaaaaaiting. *siiiiigh*

Making the Shake

  • Remove the steeped mint leaves from the mint base. Toss to your chickens.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of the mint base in the bottom of a blender.
  • Add 5-6 fresh mint leaves and blend until leaves are finely chopped.
  • Add ice cream and blend on low speed.
  • Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint, because beautiful things are wonderful.
(adapted from recipe, by the way, found on HGTV)
That’s it! Easy-peasy and so much, much better than the syrupy-sweet one you’ll get at the drive-through of that big fast-food chain . . can’t remember the name off the top of my head. AND actually laced with fresh mint, which is a beneficial herb and so good for you and contributes to your health.
Question: My mentor Gene has taught me how to care for mint plants and how to propagate plants from cuttings. It’s not rocket science, but he has taught me the best way to do it. Would you enjoy a post where I share this technique with you? If so, please indicate your interest in the comments below.
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Take care. Thanks for popping in! I love ya. I mean it!

23 thoughts on “Fresh Mint Milkshakes: Best Made at Home!

  1. Gene Gage

    Amazing! Not only did you choose the most intensely flavored spearmint – the Kentucky Colonel – named not for the fried chicken king, but for the mint most often used in Kentucky at Derby time (1st weekend in May), I have spent the last two days sticking mint cuttings (propagating them) so that you will have mint plants to sell at your plant sale next Spring. I just finished numbers 8 and 9 last night, and will try to get 4-5 more varieties done today.

    If you have only ten varieties of mint in your hoop house you need to send me a list so that I can complete your collection with the eight varieties you don’t have. My most recent favorite is Lime Mint, which I used all summer to spice up the black sun tea that I drink by the gallon in sweaty weather. One of our customers uses my Citrus Mint Medley (orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit) in the bar, and they order it nearly every week.

    PS: if you ever run out of Kentucky Colonel, you can also use English Mint (a milder taste), Julep Mint (fairly strong), or standard spearmint. (I think I have seen at least six distinct varieties of Mentha spicata (which is the botanical name of the spearmint family).

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Wonderful, Gene! Thanks so much for sticking those cuttings for me. I have a few strips of them in my basement, but you know my success/failure rate in my cold basement is not what I would hope for . . . !!
      And I will get you that list of mints in my hoophouse! Thanks! (I actually used apple mint for the first mint milkshakes I made, and it was tasty too!)

  2. Tenley Long

    Yes ma’am! I would love a post about growing mint. And a rundown of the different varieties. A friend gifted me some mint several years ago but I have no idea what variety. I added spearmint this year and would love to add other types.
    The milkshake sounds heavenly! I will add the recipe to my growing collection of recipes to try.

  3. Andrea L Johnson

    I’d like to hear more about mint too–propogating, containing (!), selecting for different health and food purposes, and of course, for the chickens and dog in the family.

  4. Jennifer

    Yes please! I’m possibly the only person in the world who can’t convince a mint plant to run gleefully rampant (except the cat mint, WHOLE other story >_< ) and I’d love any and all advice on encouraging it. And I’ll start looking for some Kentucky Colonel.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Jennifer, I will make it so! Mint is easy to grow, but I’ve discovered that it’s not bulletproof. I’ll be working on that post!

  5. Diane Young Decker

    Would love any posts on propagation! I used to have multiple varieties of mint in my garden, purchased, actually from Mr. Gene, waaaay back in the day. (He was at south 14th street then.) I wonder if any of those plants are still populating the yard of that house in Swanton. Haven’t been back to check since I sold the house after my mom died. They tore the house and outbuildings down and put up a HUGE machine shed, but I had three lots, so there could be survivors out there. Would love to grow lovely things again, if I had the strength and the land.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      With the recent progress in your health situation, I’m hopeful that you WILL grow lovely things again! (And I’d bet nearly ANYTHING that at least some of those mint plants are still there, weaving their way through the grass and the weeds and so forth. Mint is very hard to discourage!)

  6. Becky

    Ooo, yeah! I wanna grow mint!!! Write on, oh Mint Master.
    I put mint in a few persnickety window boxes after one of my brothers suggested it for its impossible-to-kill qualities. It made it through the summer. We shall see how it takes a MI winter.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Becky, okay, anything for you, my friend! 🙂 I’m a little surprised about the mint thriving in the windowboxes. The roots grow really quickly! I’m interested to hear back from you, if it survives your winter!

  7. Nancy Dennis

    Hi Amy,
    Was that ever an enjoyable read! I planted pineapple mint this year in a large pot. I just now wondered if I could put some in my diet shakes that I make everyday. ..that’s how I found this.
    So I have to go through the cheese cloth method or can I just throw the leaves in the blender like I do baby spinach?

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Nancy, thank you for the sweet words!
      Absolutely you can toss that pineapple mint into your shake with impunity. It’s completely edible, of course. I do the same with my smoothies. The “cheesecloth” method is for when you want a smoother product without bits of leaves in it. If the leaf bits don’t bother you (they don’t me!) then go for it!! And . . . might I add, what a brilliant idea! I have pineapple mint growing out here, too!

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