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how to Preserve and store Fresh mint
the best ways to keep the flavor fresh
Don't waste a precious leaf of your homegrown mint! Let me show you how to preserve and store your mint so its flavor stays fresh for up to a year.
Gotta Save Some of This for Winter Tea!
Before we begin, grab your snippers and go harvest a handful of mint sprigs from your herbal tea garden.
Freshly cut mint has the best flavor. And that's what we're aiming to preserve!
preparing your mint for storage
As soon as you've harvested your mint sprigs, rinse them off to remove any dust, dirt, and tag-along critters.
I use my garden hose. But a quick spray or swish in the kitchen sink works just fine, too.
A Light Shower Does The Job
Now gently shake, shake, shake to remove most of the water. Then finish drying by lightly patting or loosely rolling your mint sprigs in a clean cloth or paper towel.
How to Preserve fresh Mint
storing mint in water
This is a great way to keep newly harvested mint fresh for a day or two. Any longer than that, it'll quickly begin losing its garden-fresh flavor.
- Make a clean cut at the base of each stem
- Put the stems in a container of clean, cool water
- Store the container out of direct sunlight.
Tip: If your sprigs start looking droopy, pop them - container, water, and all - into the fridge (not the freezer!). In no time at all, your mint should perk right up.
Hint: If you're going to leave your mint sprigs in water for more than a few hours, it's a good idea to remove all leaves that'll be sitting below water level. Otherwise, the submerged leaves will start to degrade, and the water will get all yucky smelly ick!
drying fresh mint
If you want your mint to stay flavorful over an extended period, drying is definitely the way to go. Here are a few different ways to dry your mints, beginning with my favorite method ...
how to dry mint in a food dehydrator
Spread clean leaves in a single layer on the trays of your food dehydrator, leaving a little space between each leaf for air to circulate.
Preparing to Dry
Fresh Spearmint & Lemon Balm Leaves
Close the lid on the dehydrator, turn the temperature to a super-low setting, and flip the power switch to "on".
That's it, that's all. There's nothing more to it than that.
At a steady 90° F (32° C) in my food dehydrator, "juicy-leaf" herbs like apple mint dry in about 14 hours. Common garden varieties like spearmint and peppermint take less time - usually 10-12 hours, give or take.
how to air Dry mint in bunches
Starting with clean, fresh stems of mint:
- Strip a few sets of leaves off the bottom of each stem.
- Gather 5 or 6 stems together loosely.
- Take a piece of twine, a twist tie, or a rubber band, and wrap it around the cut-end of your bundle of mint stems.
Make the wrap snug enough to hold the bundle together, but not so tight that your mint leaves are all squished together. To dry evenly, the leaves need a little air circulation.
- Hang the bundles upside down in a cool, well-ventilated location, out of direct sunlight.
It'll take anywhere from 2-7 days for your mint leaves to dry completely, depending on the size of the leaves, their water content, and the humidity in the room.
- When the leaves are fully dried, strip all the leaves off their stems, and put the dried leaves in a clean glass or metal container for storage - again, out of direct light.
Hold your dried herbs over an open paper bag or a big bowl while you're stripping the leaves from the stems. Your mint will fall into the bag ... not onto the floor. ;-)
how to Oven-dry mint
- Spread your mint leaves in a single layer on a cookie sheet.
- Pre-heat your oven to the lowest temperature setting possible - preferably no higher than 90° F (32° C).
- Slide the cookie sheet into the oven, onto the center rack.
- Leave the oven door slightly ajar to allow for some air circulation.
- Estimated drying time in a barely-warm oven is about 6-8 hours.
drying mint in a microwave
Mint is one of the few tea herbs that actually dries pretty well (and very quickly!) in the microwave.
- Spread a single layer of mint leaves on a clean paper towel. Stick them in the microwave and zap for 15 seconds on your microwave's lowest power setting (probably the "defrost" or "warm" setting).
- After 15 seconds, open the microwave's door and leave it slightly ajar for about a minute, giving your mint leaves a little rest from the heat.
- Then, reach in and do a touch test. If your leaves are crispy, they're done. If they're still a little bend-y ...
- Continue zapping at 10-second intervals, allowing a one-minute resting time in between each zap, until the leaves are fully dried.
Freezing sacrifices some of an herb's flavor, but it's an okay way to preserve your fresh mint if you're in a hurry.
For best results, mint leaves should be removed from their stems before freezing.
Trying to strip the leaves from their stems after thawing will result in a goopy mess. (Guess how I know!)
- Lay a single layer of leaves on a pre-chilled cookie sheet.
- Put the cookie sheet in the freezer, and leave it there, undisturbed, for at least 3 hours.
- When the leaves are completely frozen, transfer them into a re-sealable plastic bag.
- Remove as much air from the bag as possible. Seal the bag tightly, and return it to the freezer for storage.
Helpful Hint: The frozen leaves thaw very quickly. So get them off the cookie sheet, into the bag, and back in the freezer as fast as you can!
storing your preserved mint
Dried mint - stored in an air-tight metal or glass container, away from heat and light, dried mint will retain its flavor for up to a year
Frozen mint - as long as it's well sealed and hasn't thawed and re-frozen, your mint will keep in the freezer for 3 to 6 months
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