Wednesday, June 22, 2016

First Mint Harvest

Just after sunrise this morning I put on my faithful, old Bean slip-on boots, and squished through the dew-laden grass to my mint patch in the garden.  My mission was to harvest this season's first cutting of mint, when it would be at its optimal best, before the sun hit it.

You see, Papa Pea drinks a big mug of peppermint tea each and every morning after his cup of coffee.  And I figure the best mint we can secure is that grown in our garden.

I hadn't taken the time to dress yet at that early hour so was still in my shortie pajamas and robe.  Not wanting to kneel in the wet grass, I bent from the waist as I made my way around the mint snipping my harvest.  

With a little imagination you can conjure up the sight this afforded to any early morning wildlife.  Does the vision bring to mind those once popular wooden cut-outs of ample-bottomed grandmas bending over the flower bed?  Well, I'm afraid my posture definitely exposed some tender body parts that must have screamed, "Look!  Breakfast!" to a myriad of biting bugs.  Not my most intelligent move of the week.

As I dropped the first cuttings into my bowl, I realized I had neglected to mulch around the plants and our frequent recent rains had splashed mud up onto the undersides of all those purdy, little, vibrantly green leaves.  My bad.  Sigh.

So, back into the kitchen with my bowl full of (muddy) mint where I put it through several gentle washing in cool water.  Then a couple of twirls in my handy-dandy salad spinner (which I couldn't live without) and the mint is now drying on a towel . . . 


. . . before I nip the leaves off their stems and put them in the dehydrator.

Not only does peppermint make good tasting tea, but it has other medicinal purposes.

It's a mouth and breath freshener, promotes digestion, soothes upset stomachs, balms made with a mint base rubbed on the forehead and nose give quick headache relief for some people, it alleviates inflammation and is a natural skin healer.  It reduces respiratory problems and coughs, and is good for asthmatic sufferers.  It's even been used as a stimulant to help with depression and fatigue.  The list of mint's beneficial properties goes on and on.  Makes me wonder why I don't grow an acre of the stuff and use it much more than I do!  To my mind, having your own planting of mint in the garden is a very good thing.

Hmmm, I wonder if it would relieve the itching on my . . . oh, never mind.

26 comments:

DFW said...

Ouch on the bites in uncomfortable places. I do think a mint salve might help. Glad you were able to get out there & harvest it though.

Susan said...

I snorted in my mint afternoon tea, reading this post! Thank you for the reminder... And it also reminds me to harvest some nettles for drying. However, I would not recommend your get-up for that!

Sue said...

Fresh mint--it's a staple here. I grew up with summer suppers on the screen porch and there was ALWAYS a huge pitcher of iced tea with fresh mint crushed in it. YUM!!!!!!!
Love it to this day.

Mama Pea said...

DFW - Ya know, I could feel the bugger bugs biting me but was too stubborn to quit until I had the whole patch harvested. Dumb? Oh, ya.

Mama Pea said...

Susan - Been there, done that. I once backed into a high patch of nettles wearing shorts. :o/

Mama Pea said...

Sue - Did you say you grew up drinking Mint Juleps? Oh, mint iced tea! Riiiiight. ;o)

Laurie said...

Don't know if it would alleviate the itching, but it might tingle just a little bit. HaHaHa!!!

Seriously, though, I can attest to it alleviating headaches. It really works. I used the essential oil...mixed it with a carrier oil and keep it in a little dark-glassed jar. When I have a headache, I rub a little on the nape of my neck and temples. In approximately 15-20 minutes, the headache is gone.

Sparkless said...

My daughter drinks peppermint tea pretty much every evening. We do harvest some from our patch but I never get enough to have for her for an entire year. Maybe this is the year I finally manage that.
Sorry to hear about the bugs and your tender bits. hee hee

gld said...

I didn't know mint had so many good uses.

My Sis just sent me a start of hers and I temporarily put it in my herb tub and I need to relocate it asap.

Kristina said...

Oh, I love mint, peppermint and spearmint. I put peppermint in my mullein tea for those health benefits. You crack me up about heading out with pajamas on. I do the same thing to pick early morning peas. I wish my radishes were big enough, but we planted later this year.

Mama Pea said...

Laurie - I think you enjoyed the thought of me using the mint salve on my itchy parts a little too much! ;o}

I don't get an upset tummy very often but I know drinking a cup of peppermint tea always settles it right away. Isn't mint wonderful?

Mama Pea said...

Sparkless - With the way we seem to go through peppermint, I know I won't be able to harvest enough this year either. Although I am working at devoting a whole raised bed to it. It spreads on its own so in a year or so, maybe I'll accomplish the goal!

(You may be happy to know my "tender bits" have stopped itching. Almost.)

Mama Pea said...

gld - Just be careful where you plant it because it does tend to spread when no one is watching!

Mama Pea said...

Kristina - I prefer spearmint best of all . . . its so smoooth!

We've had our first few radishes but I have nearly half a 4 x 8' bed coming along soon. Love 'em!

Sandy said...

Mama Pea,

Steep your mint leaves (about 1 ounce of them) in water, get it to boil. Shot off the water and let it cool. Then pour the water over the bites, it will sooth them.

love and hugs,
Sandy

Vera said...

I harvested our spearmint a few weeks ago, and got it into the dehydrator. It is now all used up because my husband suddenly got a craving for mint tea and used every last leaf up!

Mama Pea said...

Sandy - Great tip! Thank you. (Sure am glad you added to "let it cool" before pouring over the bites!)

Mama Pea said...

Vera - That's what happens to my mint harvests, too! But since it's good stuff, we can't complain!

Anonymous said...

This is my first time to harvest mint. Would you please explain how to dry and use mint for tea( how much per cup). I made an herb bed this year I have thyme, sage, lavender, and rosemary. thank you
Betty

Mama Pea said...

Betty - I don't cut the mint plant all the way down, but rather snip off the top 4-6" of the "branches." Then I sit and take the leaves off the stalks. The leaves get laid out in a single layer on my dehydrator trays where I dry them for approximately 5 hours at 110 degrees. I keep testing them to see if they crumble in my fingers and when they all seem that way, I take them out and crush them up a bit and store in an air tight jar.

We use a tea ball full of leaves for a big mug of hot water and steep for about 3-5 minutes. Less if you want your tea weaker, more if you like it stronger. Hope this helps.

Best of luck with your herb bed!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I love mint and all things mint_flavored! Yummy! Have you had mint chocolate??

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much. Have a great weekend
Betty

Mama Pea said...

Betty - You're very welcome and same to you!

Mama Pea said...

OE - Mint chocolate? Oh, yeeessss!

A little local nursery near us has had a "chocolate mint" plant for sale but I've hesitated buying one. When you rub the leaves with your fingers, it doesn't have much scent at all. Of chocolate OR mint! :o)

Leigh said...

I need to try peppermint again! And get a salad spinner. I had some make it for a couple of years but I couldn't keep it properly watered so it eventually dies. My spearmint thrives, but it isn't the same.

Mama Pea said...

Leigh - And up here, it spreads so much we're warned to keep it contained or it will take over the acreage! I have it in a raised bed and hope it eventually will fill the space that I'll gladly give to it.