Harvest mint leaves in style by doing it properly and at the right time. Mint is a plant that has many varieties but the common ones are peppermint, apple mint, orange mint and spearmint.
The mint herb is used as medicine and is also nutritional. This article will educate you on how you can perfectly harvest your mint after successfully growing it.
How to Harvest Mint
The proper way to harvest mint is to make sure that it is done at the right time and with the proper techniques such as gentle or heavy harvesting.
Harvest mint whenever you need the leaves but make sure the sprigs are three to four inches tall. The process is easy and less expensive as the only main requirements are a pair of scissors or shears and a basket.
With these, you are good to go and pick fresh mint. You can harvest your mint herb to prevent it from producing seeds, thereby allowing it to grow new stems that are fresh.
You should harvest mint leaves before the herb starts flowering, or harvest them when the plant has reached the minimum height of four inches. We advise that you harvest the leaves early in the morning when the temperatures are cool but make sure the dew has dried up. At this time, you will get the freshest leaves and the flavor will be in full force. Mint freshness and flavor can be affected by the heat from the sun.
– Gentle Harvesting
Harvesting mint can be done as soon as the plant has established itself by having some leaves and a few stems. You don’t necessarily need to wait until they reach maturity for you to pick mint leaves. You can pluck a few tender leaves every now and then. Just make sure you pick the leaves that have the best flavor for your teas and food.
When your mint plant is still young, it will have a limited number of leaves so you should harvest smaller quantities to allow the plant to grow well. Gentle harvesting can be done any time of the year as you will not be cutting the stems of the plant but just picking a few leaves at the top of the mint herb for domestic uses.
– Heavy Harvesting
The best way to harvest mint in bulk is by cutting the stems of the plant. You can use a pair of sharp scissors or your fingers to cut the stem as it is too soft. Cutting mint using shears or a pair of scissors can leave a clean cut on the stem that will recover quickly. When you use your fingers, the plant can be damaged if you do not exercise extra care.
Be sure to cut half to two-thirds of the stem if you want to harvest fresh mint. This will leave the remaining part of the plant with more room for the development of new stems and leaves.
Your mint herb should be at least three inches tall when you do heavy harvesting so that regrow is guaranteed. Remember to cut the stems at one inch above the soil line.
How To Store Mint Leaves
Effective ways such as freezing your mint for future use will ensure that it will still have all its nutrients and flavors.
Mint leaves can be kept fresh by putting them in a plastic bag prior to placing them in the fridge. When you do this, use your mint within seven days after storing it in the fridge.
You can also freeze them so that they can last longer, just tuse them up to a maximum of four months for the best flavor. You can keep your frozen mint beyond this period but its quality may be reduced.
Put your mint leaves in a tray and place them in the freezer. Remove them once they are frozen. After that, put the mint leaves in a plastic bag, squeeze out any excess air, and put them back into the freezer. This way of freezing is best if you want to use your mint leaves in salads and cocktails.
You can also chop the mint leaves and place them in ice cube trays. Add some water so that it will bind the leaves when frozen and put the trays in the freezer. Once they are frozen, put the mint ice cube in a freezer storage bag and use the mint in recipes and beverages within four months.
How To Dry Mint Leaves
Mint leaves can also be used in their dried form, and this can be done with an oven, dehydrator or air as explained below.
– The Air-Drying Method
Cut the mint stems and loosely tie three to four stems together a few inches from the cut end to allow free air circulation through the mint leaves. Put the mint stems in a dark room with temperatures ranging between 70 F and 90 F and hang them upside down.
Leave the stems for about two to three weeks in a well-ventilated room that is dark to allow all the leaves to dry and become crispy. Crush the leaves and put them in a jar that has an airtight lid; store it in a dark place.
Remember to check for condensation to make sure your mint leaves are 100 percent dry. If you see some droplets of water in the jar, remove your crumbled mint leaves from the container and allow them to dry for another seven days. This helps to avoid the development of molds that may lead to the decay of your mint.
You can also open the jar every day. Mix or shake the mint in the container to release any moisture until you are fully satisfied that it is completely dry.
– Oven-Drying Method
Gather your clean mint stems and make four to five layers, making sure that each layer is separated by paper towels. Put another paper towel at the bottom of the first layer and another at the top of the last layer.
Now, place your mint stems in an oven tray, which you should put on the middle rack. You should set the oven to warm temperatures and leave the mint overnight to dry.
The mint should be crispy and crumble when you try to crush them between your fingers. This shows that your mint leaves are dry enough to be stored. You can then separate the leaves from the stems, crush them, put the crushed mint in the jar, and tightly close with a lid. Continuously check for water droplets as explained in the air-drying method.
You can also use a moisture-absorbing packet to remove any moisture that is left in your mint. Your dried mint will be good for at most three years while having its flavor and fragrance intact. If you want to store mint in large quantities for sale and personal use over long periods of time, consider drying it.
– Using Electric Dehydrators
This is an excellent method of drying your mint compared to the oven-drying strategy. This is because the risk of having scorched leaves is reduced when you use electric dehydrators. The dehydrator has the lowest temperature setting, which is between 95 F to 115 F.
All you have to do is place the single layer of mint in the dehydrator tray and put it in the preheated dehydrator. Some dehydrators have an “herb” setting so you can use it instead of the lowest temperature.
Remove your mint from the dehydrator when it is completely dry and store it in a cool and dark place. You can use a vacuum sealer machine to seal the jars to guarantee the flavor and freshness of the mint for a long period of time.
Other Useful Information
Here are the answers to some of your burning questions about the mint plant.
– How Do You Pick Mint Leaves So It Keeps Growing?
Picking mint leaves so it will keep growing requires no special technique or process, just pick individual leaves or prune several stems as one would normally do, and the mint plant will continue to supply new growths if kept in a conducive environment.
Mint is a plant that can be grown anywhere in the world and it requires minimal attention, so it doesn’t need an intensive amount of care to provide fresh herbs.
The mint herb grows well in the sun and partial shade and does not require fertilizers. Mint plant needs more water than many indoor plants, so its soil should be kept moist all the time.
Tomatoes, cabbage and peas can be grown near the mint as they benefit from it. Moreover, the mint plant won’t spread to other plants or herbs in your garden, thereby avoiding competition for nutrients.
– Does Mint Regrow After Cutting?
Yes, mint leaves regrow after cutting, but it would be best to propagate your mint plants so that you have more plants to supply you with fresh herbs faster. Stem cuttings can be used to propagate mint plants, and you can use the stem either with roots or without.
Plant the six-inch stem with roots horizontally into the soil and keep the soil moist until the cutting is established. You can then treat it as you would an old mint plant.
Mint cuttings without roots can be placed in glasses with water for them to develop some roots. Plant the mint in the garden or pot when the roots are three to four inches long.
– What Can I Do With Lots of Fresh Mint?
Fresh mint can be used in a lot of ways, including incorporating them into dishes, making mint ice cubes, brewing mint tea, and even adding the herb into cocktails.
A major use of the mint plant all over the world is creating mint oil. Mint oil is used for various purposes in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries. Menthol mint oil adds flavor to mouth fresheners, chewing gums, sweets and toothpaste. The menthol oil has antimicrobial properties so it is added to grains and edible products to increase their shelf life.
Mint oil is also an important ingredient when manufacturing syrups, pain balms and lozenges. The essential oil is also commonly used in betel-related industries in India. These are just some of the numerous uses of the mint plant.
This article has provided you with all the information you need to harvest your mint. Here is a summary that you can refer to for future use:
- Picking mint can be done any time depending on the quantities you want to harvest. You should not harvest fresh mint when the plant is blooming as the regrowth of the plant can be affected.
- Harvesting the whole plant by cutting the stem helps the plant to grow fresh mint leaves and stems. This method should be used during the growing season.
- Storing mint for future use can be done by freezing the leaves of the plant. You can also use the drying method so that your mint can last long for a maximum of three years.
- Mint herb is a multipurpose plant that can be used in beverages and dishes as well as for pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries.
- The mint plant is an herb that grows vigorously. If not properly controlled, it can cover a large area easily through rhizomes that will develop stems and leaves and become individual plants.
If you apply the information that you received from this article, you will be an expert in harvesting and preserving mint leaves without damaging your plant. Enjoy your mint all year round by harvesting and preserving it the right way!
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