Growing mint is not difficult. But the question is, what to do with too many mint leaves? Drying mint leaves may be the right answer, if you want to preserve it for tea or other culinary delights of winter.
Table of Contents
- Preparation of mint leaves for drying
- How to properly save mint?
- Mint drying in a food dryer
- Drying the mint in the oven
- Can mint be frozen?
If you want to enjoy mint tea during the winter, we suggest mint drying. Here are some options on how to do this best. We will also provide some tips on how to make dried mint leaves for tea and retain their fragrance.
Preparation of mint leaves for drying
Shake off the dirt and remove the yellow / diseased leaves. If necessary, carefully pick the leaves from the branch. Do not wash the mint to avoid losing aroma. It is also important that you do not press the leaves too hard when handling them. Squeezing can damage the integrity of the leaf and result in the loss of essential oil, thus significantly worsening the taste of your future tea.
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When drying mint, it is very important to put only freshly picked leaves in the food dryer. The fresher the leaves, the more fragrant tea you will enjoy on cold winter evenings. Keeping harvested mint leaves for too long will result in loss of the essential oil as well as the flavor.
Q: Is it possible to dry mint branches?
Mint is one of the fast-drying herbs. However, if you dry the leaves together with the branches, it will take more time to get a quality product. Trim and remove the branches that already turned yellow as well as the thickest parts of the branches to make the drying process as smooth as possible.
However, our recommendation would be to separate the leaves from the branches before putting them into the dehydrator. In any case, the leaves will dry faster than the stems, so you can remove them from the dryer earlier. Please note that over-drying of the product may also impair its taste and aromatic properties.
How to properly save mint?
As mentioned above, if you don’t know what to do with too many mint leaves, just use a dehydrator. However, the processing of products containing essential oils is a delicate process. The preservation of mint is no exception. At first glance, a simple process will give the best results only if you follow a simple principle – do not overheat the mint when drying.
In order to dry the mint properly and preserve its aroma to the maximum, it is important to dry it at a temperature not exceeding 105°F (40°C). As mentioned earlier, too long drying can also be detrimental to the final product, as the essential oils will evaporate along with the moisture.
Properly dried mint leaves crumble and the branches break easily.
Mint drying in a food dryer
We recommend drying the mint in a food dryer. With this device you will be able to set the required drying temperature suitable for gentle mint dehydration. It is also important that the mint leaves placed on the drying trays do not lie on top of each other.
When drying products, it is always important to leave room for air circulation between the individual pieces of product. Otherwise, the moisture will not evaporate efficiently enough, the drying cycle will take longer, and the product may lose some of its nutritional properties or aesthetic appearance.
As mentioned before, mint leaves are thin, dry quickly, so try not to over-dry them. This will preserve more aroma. The maximum drying temperature should not exceed 104°F (40°C) degrees.
Drying the mint in the oven
Another way to dry mint is to put them in the oven. This is not an ideal way as it not only increases electricity consumption but also the likelihood of overheating the product. In ovens, it is often not possible to maintain such a low temperature required to dry the mint.
As with drying mint in a food dryer, the temperature should not exceed 104°F (40°C) degrees. Mints heated at higher temperatures lose their aroma.
However, if you dry the mint in the oven, the same principle applies – the leaves should not touch each other. Place the baking paper on the oven plate and place the product to be dried on it. The oven door must be slightly open to remove moisture during drying.
Check frequently in order to avoid over-dehydration of this fragile product. In the oven, this can happen very quickly.
Q: How to dry mint without an oven or dryer?
Mint can also be dried in the room. However, the room must be dry, well ventilated and clean. So, a regular pantry probably won’t work. The room temperature should be maintained between 70-85°F (20-30°C) degrees.
The mint being dried this way can either be bundled and hung or simply spread on a clean, breathable cloth. A lightweight cotton fabric that ensures air circulation is best suited for this.
When drying this way, the product will not be covered with anything, so make sure that there are no insects or dust in the room.
Q: How and where to store dried mint?
Properly stored dried mint can be suitable for consumption for up to two years. After removing the dried product from the dryer or oven, allow it to “breathe” and cool for a few minutes.
It is definitely not recommended to keep mint in the open for longer, as the leaves will start to draw moisture away from the environment again. Try not to break dried mint leaves when packing. You will retain more aroma.
As with any dried food, store dried mint in an airtight container. Glass jars with good sealing are perfect for this. Keep them at room temperature in a dark and dry storage or cabinet.
Proper storage of dried food is an essential criterion to preserve dried products for as long as possible.
Can mint be frozen?
If you already have enough stock of dried mint for tea, you can try another way of preserving mint – freezing it. It can be refrigerated in two ways, in the refrigerator or in the freezer. In any case, refrigerate the mint fresh, unbroken and in overall good condition.
The same rule applies that spaces must be left between pieces of the product. Air circulation is also important during refrigeration, and individual pieces of product will not stick together.
If you choose a refrigerator, you can preserve the mint for two to three weeks, depending on whether you are freezing freshly cut mint or mint that was already harvested a couple of days ago. In any case, another important tip – try to keep the mint away from strong-smelling products in the refrigerator, e.g. chopped onions. You will not want to drink onion flavored tea later.
Mint can be stored in the freezer for up to 12 months or even longer. However, the product will no longer be suitable for tea, as thawed leaves will be similar to porridge and more suitable only as a spice to season other dishes.
As with all refrigerated products, the same rule applies here – do not refreeze a product that has already been thawed. This will greatly damage its nutritional value, taste and appearance.
Other uses for the preservation and use of mint
If the mint harvest is so plentiful that you are already fully stocked with tea and still have fresh mint left, you can take advantage of another popular way of preserving food – soaking in oil.
Soaking mint in oil will help to preserve it for later and use with a variety of pastries or salads. Use a neutral-tasting oil so as not to spoil the natural mint aroma.
Finally, if the methods described above don’t work for you, use the mint harvest right away as a spice or with vanilla ice cream!