Harvesting and drying mint: instructions | Process peppermint

Fresh mint from your own garden is not only very refreshing on hot summer days. It gives numerous dishes a special flavor. They can be used and processed both fresh and in the dried state. The right harvest time and the method of harvesting have a major influence on the aroma of the mint.

Harvest time of mint

In general, you can harvest mint from spring to autumn, in very mild winters, sometimes even until the beginning of winter. In any case, you can harvest mint while its leaves are still green. There are two main harvest seasons, the first time before flowering and another time in autumn. You can harvest small amounts of fresh peppermint at any time.

In the bud stage or shortly before flowering, the content of essential oils in the leaves is highest and therefore the aroma of the mint is most intense. Depending on the region, this is the case from mid to late July. Mint harvested during this time is particularly good for processing. If harvested mint is to be dried in autumn, between the middle and the end of September, for a longer shelf life, this is usually only worthwhile if the summer was warm and dry beforehand. The cooler the summer, the more the aroma suffers.

Instructions for harvesting mint

You can harvest all parts of the mint, which, by the way, applies to all types of mint. Even buds and flowers can be eaten or made into creative decorations. While the young and tender leaves have a very fine taste, the older ones are much more intense in taste. The same applies to the buds, which have a slightly sweet taste, and the rather spicy flowers. If you want to harvest different types of mint, they should not be mixed with one another if possible, but always harvested from one variety.

  • Carefully pick off individual leaves as required
  • Avoid tearing off the leaves
  • Injured areas are the entry point for a wide variety of pathogens
  • It is best to always harvest complete stems
  • Cut about 5 – 8 cm above the ground or above the last pair of leaves
  • About a third of the stems should remain standing
  • Plants stay strong enough to sprout again
  • Choose a sunny day to harvest mint
  • If possible, no rain on the days before the harvest
  • The best time of day is in the early morning hours
  • As soon as the morning dew has dried
Read More  Opening pine cones: how to crack the kernels | manual

If harvested later in the day, heat and sunlight weaken the plants. The actually intense taste decreases more and more over the course of the day. Leaves close to the ground should be left, they are usually very dirty. During the harvest, it is best to place the harvested material in a wicker basket. You should avoid plastic bags, the mint could sweat, which in turn favors the formation of mold. Cloth bags are also less suitable because they will squeeze the peppermint and damage the leaves.

Tip: When harvesting peppermint, you should make sure that no other, perhaps even poisonous, herb is accidentally cut off and possibly dried with the mint.

Dry peppermint

If you only need small amounts of peppermint, you can usually harvest it fresh at any time. However, these plants are usually very vigorous, so that a relatively large amount of harvested material is generated. In order to be able to use it all year round, it can be made durable and storable by drying. Different methods are available for this. Before drying can start, however, the mint may have to be cleaned. This can be done by removing coarse dirt with a brush. Under no circumstances should they be washed. You can possibly save yourself cleaning if you only harvest relatively clean herbs or if you do not cut them down to the ground.

In the air

The most common method is air drying. Depending on your needs and intended use, you can either just dry the leaves or the entire stems and then process them accordingly.

  • Gently peel the leaves off the stems
  • Then spread out on cotton or linen towels or kitchen paper
  • A conventional grate or newspaper is also suitable as a base
  • Drying in a dark and warm place, such as an attic
  • Spread the leaves of the peppermint loosely on a surface
  • Not too close and not on top of each other
  • Turn at least every two to three days for even drying
  • Check leaves for mold and rot at regular intervals
  • If there are any infected leaves, discard them immediately
  • Remove damaged or diseased leaves from complete stems
  • Then tie two or three stems together in small bundles
  • Preferably use cords made of natural fibers
  • Then hang the stems upside down to dry
Read More  Preserving Carved Pumpkins: 3 Methods | So it stays fresh for a long time

Care should be taken not to tie too many stems together, because then the leaves will no longer be adequately ventilated. In the course of the drying process, the stems shrink a little. It is therefore important not to use a rigid band to tie it, otherwise individual stems could slip out and land on the ground. After drying, you can strip the leaves from the stems, pack them accordingly and store them.

Conditions during and after air drying

For the duration of the drying process, the leaves should not be exposed to direct sunlight or excessive humidity. The temperatures should ideally be between 20 and 25 degrees. It takes two to three weeks for the leaves and stems to dry, depending on the environmental conditions. They are completely dry when they crumble between your fingers. Dried leaves can either stay green or take on a brownish color.

After drying, keep them in airtight containers in a dark, dry place. As an alternative to a dark storage location, opaque containers can also be used. Paper bags and cardboard boxes are unsuitable for storing dried mint. The paper would absorb the essential oils of the peppermint, which significantly loses its aroma.

Tip: Dried peppermint should be used up within a year. With longer storage, more and more aroma and taste are lost.

In the oven

The drying process takes place a little faster in the oven. This method is particularly useful when there is no suitable room for drying. It is best to only use the leaves for this.

  • Spread the leaves loosely on a baking sheet
  • Do not dry too many leaves at once
  • Do not place the peppermint leaves too densely on top of each other
  • Leaves that overlap each other dry very unevenly
  • After laying out, preheat the oven to 50 degrees
  • Once the temperature has been reached, hold it for another five minutes
  • Then turn off the oven
  • Put the tray with the mint leaves in the oven
  • Leave in the oven until dry
  • Drying takes about 20 minutes
  • Check the drying process several times in between
Read More  Simply dry tomatoes yourself: oven, sun or automatic dehydrator?

In the microwave

If all of this doesn’t go fast enough, you can also dry peppermint in the microwave, which is probably the most effective method, especially for smaller quantities. To do this, spread a layer of leaves on a flat, microwave-safe plate without them overlapping. They are now heated at ten-second intervals until they are finally dry. The progress of drying can be checked between the individual intervals. After a total of about a minute, the mint is usually dry and can be packed in suitable containers and stored accordingly.

In the dehydrator

The dehydrator is also suitable for drying mint. The procedure here is similar to that of the microwave. The machine is set to the lowest level. Remove trays or sieve bottoms that are not needed for better air circulation. The sheets are laid out side by side again. The degree of dryness of the mint should be checked about every five minutes. Once dry, it can be removed from the dehydrator and stored until it is needed.

Process peppermint

Peppermint can not only be processed into aromatic teas, it is also an ingredient in a wide variety of dishes such as ice cream, cakes, salads, smoothies, sauces, lemonades, soft drinks or cocktails. They can also be soaked in oil, made into jelly or peppermint oil, or simply used as a garnish.

  • It is best to use freshly harvested mint for processing
  • The fresher the mint, the higher the essential oil content
  • Can also be processed with frozen mint
  • Add frozen food, for example cooked food
  • Is part of many oriental and Mediterranean dishes
  • Gives them a fine flavor and an extra helping of freshness
  • Dried, a very good alternative to bought mint tea in winter
  • Or for making scented sachets for the wardrobe
  • Well suited for scented pot pourris with lavender flowers and rose petals
  • Or as an addition to bath water

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.