There’s nothing like a warming cup of mint tea after a long cold day! Mint tea is refreshing and can help you wake up in the morning even though it doesn’t have any caffeine in it! Mint is also a great herb to cook with and use for medicine. Learn how to dry your own mint for tea and for cooking to stay healthy throughout the fall and winter months.
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Growing Your Own Mint
Growing your own mint won’t cause you headaches. Mint is a true survivor, it technically is a weed and can persevere through very tough times. Keep it in its own pot, water it almost daily and you’ll get a good amount of mint throughout the year. If you’ve got fresh mint – you can make your mint tea (you’ll need more leaves for an intense flavor), soups and of course cocktails with it!
Last year, I remember giving my daughter a planter full of mint and that mint made it outside in the freezing winter, the weird spring (hey global warming!) and even summer without ever being watered. True surviver, as I told you.
Reasons To Use Mint For Tea And In Cooking
Mint is a quite popular herb for cooking all over the world, especially in Middle Eastern cooking. It can be used fresh or dried and it gives dishes a nice refreshing flavor. We all know mint is a natural breath freshener and it’s actually perfect to pair with garlic and onions.
Mint also is a proud owner of the following health benefits (source):
- Antioxidants. Mint is one of the foods with the highest antioxidant capacities
- Can help reduce sodium intake
- Fights Colds. A chemical called mentanol in mint might help relieve symptoms of the common cold
- Digestion and IBS. Mint has been used for thousands of years to aid with upset stomach and indigestion and some studies suggested it can be used for IBS.
- Allergies. Mint contains an anti-inflammatory called rosmarinic acid that might help relieve seasonal allergy symptoms.
why grow and dry Mint On Your Own
Growing your own mint is pretty easy, as it can make it through most seasons and it doesn’t need much watering – so it would be still alive, even if you forget to water it for two days.
Having fresh mint at home means you’ll 1) save money and 2) have the herb without any harmful substances on it.
Now, you might not have the space for fresh mint at home and that’s perfectly okay because you can dry it. Drying your own mint will magically make that herb shrink by reducing the water content in the plant, all while preserving the healthy nutrients.
Drying your own mint is better than buying dried mint from the store for many reasons, here are three:
- you don’t know how long that mint’s been sitting in the package for. Dried herbs also have their shelf life and keeping herbs wrapped in plastic for months, or even years isn’t the healthiest thing in the world
- you save money
- it’s fun to do
How To Dry Mint
When drying your mint, you need to keep this in mind:
The goal of drying your herbs and food, in general, is to remove the moisture from the plant, while preserving the nutrients. The antioxidants, the microelements, the flavor and the aroma – it all stays inside. You don’t want to dry your herbs just to prevent them from going bad, you want to maintain the nutrition and flavor of the fresh plant, even better – you want to condense it.
Before starting to dry your mint, make sure to wash it thoroughly – you don’t want to have dried mint leaves with dirt on them. Pat them dry and proceed with the method you choose.
I usually air dry my mint by spreading the sprigs out or if I’m really motivated – the leaves over a net.
You can get a herb drying rack like this one at Amazon – it saves a lot of space and you can dry 4 different types of herbs simultaneously. Spread out the leaves evenly in single layers. Do not stack them on top of each other, the air needs to circulate freely to prevent mold and to allow the mint leaves/ sprigs to dry evenly.
Another option, which I’ve used is an old mosquito net (actually an old window insect screen) that I attached to an old frame and it has worked perfectly. If I ever make a more beautiful version I’ll make sure to share it here. But in case you need instructions and want to make your own herb drying rack, I really like this tutorial.
in the oven
Another option to dry your own mint, if you don’t have space or are a bit more impatient is to dry the mint leaves in the oven. This will save you a lot of time, as you can have your dried mint leaves ready in hours, not weeks.
The important thing here is to spread your mint sprigs away from each other, in a thin layer on a cookie sheet or parchment paper and to use a very low temperature. Set your oven to 40-50 C / 105-120 F and let your herbs dry for a few hours. Flip the sprigs throughout the process to speed things up and to allow even drying. Take out of the oven once the mint is completely dry.
A third option to dry mint is using a food dehydrator like this one. The principle is similar to the other two options. You put all the mint leaves in a single layer on the dehydrator tray, then dry at the lowest possible setting. Drying your mint this way could take between one and 4 hours.
How To Store Dried Mint
Once you’ve dried your mint, you can easily collect the leaves in a jar or an airtight container of your choice. I recommend glass containers, something like these – they’re small, but they will look great in your kitchen.
When storing, you can choose to leave the mint leaves whole or to crumble them. I actually prefer keeping my herbs whole and to crumble them right before using, as I feel it helps preserve the aroma better (like for example with using freshly ground and pre-ground black pepper).
How To Use For Tea And cooking
If you’d like to make mint tea, add a Tbsp of your dried and crumbled mint to a tea infuser per cup of boiling water. And if you want to make it a little extra special – put some honey in it. It’s the perfect winter drink and even my little grandson loves it.
As for cooking, you can use dried mint in many types of meals that use meat, lentils, beans or rice-based dishes. I love adding dried mint to my soups, it really gives them that special something.