Ah, the sight and smell of mint.
It is a surefire sign of Spring being here to stay for me. Mint has always been sort of a nemesis for me, and I often refer to it under it’s “scientific name” of yardus-interruptus. I had a friend plant one single, little, tiny, lonely plant in my front yard 9 years ago as a “house warming” gift. Little did I know that it would succeed in taking over the entire front yard. I have since learned to use it as much as possible, trying to get the most out of it, but it’s still a pain in the rump.
Learning to grow mint is fairly fool-proof.
You simply plant some seeds, or a starter. That’s about it. Of course, unless you want it taking over your entire yard, you will want to plant it in a container. You can use an old kiddie pool, or large plant pot to get the most harvest. The mint will spread like wildfire and come back, year after year for you. The flowers are a gorgeous purple and are enjoyable for bees and butterflies alike. It won’t even really need to be weeded, as the mint will simply just take over.
Drying your mint is great for teas.
You’ll want to get the mint as early in the morning as possible. I have found that it seems to have far more flavor when it’s picked early in the morning. I will take a 6 quart bowl out with me, along with some scissors and cut about an inch from the ground and carefully shake the stalks of mint before placing in a bowl. That helps to make sure that any ants or bugs on it are left outside.
Wash the leaves and remove the stems.
To take the leaves off the stems, simply hold the stem upside down in one hand, and slid the leaves off with the other. The dehydrator takes about 12 hours to dry completely, and once they are dry, simply place in a mason jar and crush as you go. This does make it easier to save the dried leaves in the long run. I use this dehydrator, but whatever you have is perfect for this. You can also tie the leaves together and hang upside down to dry like this, but it can take 3-5 days to be dried completely. The smell, however, is amazing! Since I usually collect about 10-12 quarts of leaves each time I harvest, I usually use the dehydrator to get the job done overnight.
Or, you can also lay the washed leaves, stems and all on the dehydrator sheet.
I will often do this is for several reasons. One, I am really lazy and taking that many leaves off the stems is a lot of work; Two, I can crush the stems and put the i the tea blends as well, making even more pepperminty goodness; and Three, why not?
Dried mint leaves have a myriad of uses.
My favorite is this nighttime tea blend. All ingredients are dried herbs.
Measure all the dried herbs, by weight into a quart jar and store with an airtight lid. To use, simply add 1 Tablespoon tea blend to 1 cup of boiling water and allow to steep for 5-8 minutes. Sweeten as desired. This blend is also great for making large batches and drinking as iced tea in the summer time.