Preserving Mint for Food & Medicine

Tasty and healing make the most of prolific garden herbs by preserving mint for food and medicine to use throughout the year. Mint is an incredibly prolific, even invasive, herb in the garden.  Left unattended it will take over but when properly managed and thinned it can be a wonderful bounty.  It’s delicious fresh, of course, but with a plant as productive as mint it’s good to have a plan in mind to have it around all year long. Thankfully, preserving mint for food & medicine is easy to do in a multitude of ways. In some cases, the lines are blurred between food and medicine but with mint that just makes it easier to use in its many preserved forms.

Harvesting Mint

Pick fresh leaves whenever you want them all spring and summer.  For optimum flavor, harvest mint just before it flowers.  To harvest a multitude at once for fresh or preserving, simply cut the stems, 1 inch above the ground.  Most growing climates will have 2 or even 3 large mint harvests in a year, again it grows well and fast.

Dehydrating Mint

Having dried mint on hand is the easiest and most common way to preserve it for both food and medicine.  To dry mint tie the stems together in bunches and hang in a warm, dry place until crispy.  A closet or unused guest room is ideal.  Drying in the dehydrator or oven is an option but generally unnecessary for most herbs.  I’ve even hung mine in the greenhouse to dry quickly.  Supposedly, herbs dried in the sun will lose flavor and color.  I can attest that they do lose color when dried in the sun but I haven’t detected any noticeable loss in flavor doing it this way.  Once dry, strip the stems of the leaves and store in air-tight jars. 

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