Don't waste a precious leaf of your homegrown mint! Let me show you how to dry, freeze 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 garden shears and harvest a handful of mint sprigs from your herbal tea garden.
Freshly cut mint has the richest flavor. And that's what we're aiming to preserve!
As soon as you've harvested your mint, rinse it 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.
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.
Tip: If your sprigs start looking droopy, pop them - container, water and all - into the fridge (not the freezer!). In 15 minutes or so, your mint will 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!
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 ...
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.
Starting with clean, fresh stems of mint:
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. ;-)
Mint is one of the few tea herbs that actually dries pretty well (and very quickly!) in the microwave.
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!)
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!
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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