Saturday, June 22, 2019

Harvesting Mint 101

The best time to snip little sprigs of mint is early in the morning before the sun hits the mint bed enough to start heating it up, so 'round about 6:30 this morning, I took my trusty kitchen shears and a couple of big bowls out to the garden to make my second cutting of mint.  

The first was made in desperation a week or so ago although the mint wasn't quite ready to be harvested.  I did this because I had run out of what I had thought would be a year's supply (it wasn't) a couple of weeks ago, and Papa Pea had been using organic store bought mint for his morning cup of tea until ours was ready to be cut.

During this short time there was some comment made about his tea brewed with the purchased mint tasting about as flavorful as dead grass.  I knew I had to harvest and dry some of our own asap.

By today, I knew our bed of mint had grown big enough (thankfully) that I could start this season's harvest in order to begin accumulating  the required amount for our year's supply.  Or what I hope will be a full year's supply this time around.

The premature cutting I did about a week ago was enough to keep him going, plus a little left in reserve, and he said it was the best mint tea he's ever had.  (Don't know if that was strictly true, but it did say something about the purchased mint leaves he'd been using.  Ooops.)

This morning's harvest gave me two big bowls (of the size pictured above) of vibrantly green, healthy looking sprigs.

I stripped off the leaves and put them on the dehydrator trays in preparation for drying.

I used to think I had to meticulously spread each leaf out on the tray so it didn't touch the one next to it.  (Self-proclaimed dummy here.)  Pffft.  (Notice two trays heavily laden in picture above.)

As soon as each leaf starts to dry in the dehydrator, they shrink in size leaving plenty of room between its neighbor.  Even if some leaves seem to remain overlapping, I can easily separate them when I periodically check to see how the dehydration process is going.

This is one of the trays of mint completely dried.

I transfer the dried leaves onto a sheet of waxed paper and using the heels of my hands, crush them.

Then using my fingers (ye gods, don't they look like chicken feet in this picture?) to make sure all the leaves are crushed to the size I want, and feel for any that don't seem completely dry, they get transferred into a quart measuring cup so I get an accurate measurement of how many cups I have put by.  The processed mint is stored in a glass canning jar with a tightly secured canning lid.

So far, I have 3-1/2 cups socked away, not counting Papa Pea's working jar that he takes from for his cup of mint tea every morning.  A ways to go, for sure, but I'm gonna keep at it this summer so we don't run out and he has to drink "dried grass tea" next spring.


Michelle said...

You don't say what your preferred mint variety is. Peppermint?

Tracy said...

I would like to start harvesting mint this year, but do you wash it at all? Mine gets awful dirty from watering. Thanks for the great tutorial!

Leigh said...

I finally had enough mint to harvest this year, which is happy. I wasn't sure how to crush them so I put them in a bowl and used my potato masher. Your wax paper idea seems easier. How much will you harvest by the end of the season to have as much as you need?

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

You must have a dedicated mint bed, do you? I only had mint once and it was so horribly invasive that I never planted it again. How does create his tea? Just the leaves in water, or does he use an infuser? Just curious. -Jenn

Mama Pea said...

Michelle - Well, silly me. I blabbered on for the whole post without once saying the mint was peppermint! There sure are many different kinds out on the market these days. A friend recently told us he saw a "grapefruit mint" plant for sale. Grapefruit flavored mint??

Tracy - Most places say you should wash the mint before processing . . . but I never have. My bed is so thick that the area on the soil is matted with roots and small leaves that tend to keep any "splash" from rain or watering down. And as I'm removing the leaves from the stems, I don't notice any grit or dirt on them. So far, that's worked well for me.

Leigh - According to my records, on September 14th last year I had a smidge over two half-gallon jars (one gallon) of dehydrated peppermint leaves in my pantry. I thought that would surely be adequate, but when you consider hubby uses the equivalent of one tea ball full every morning (he lets the leaves steep loose, that amounts to a bit). Hmm, maybe I'm gonna have to check to see just how many loose leaves he uses and start limiting him! What will I shoot for this year? Ha! As much as I can get!!

Jenn - Yes, one of my 4 x 8' raised beds is dedicated to my peppermint. So far, no problems with any escapees! Papa Pea has a cup/mug with a plunger on it so uses the loose leaves, and then plunges them down to the bottom of the cup before drinking.

wisps of words said...

Oh mercy no!!!! No more expensive, dried grass for Papa Pea!!! -giggles- Just goes to show, people that don't grow their own, never know how good it should be!

Dehydrator.... Know nothing about them. Interesting.

As to hands, ours are not pretty and young anymore. But they still do, what we want them to do. :-) And that's how we *should* look on them. On our whole older body, in fact.

Btw, I have written to that blogger, again. And have not heard any reply. I even apologized to her, if I had offended her in any way... Maybe like posting about her blog? Anyway.... Chalk it up to.... "The one that got away" maybe. ,-)


Lynne said...

The mint looks so healthy in the picture. I've got to try that in my dehydrator. Your hands look like hard working hands! That truly is something to be proud of!!

Mama Pea said...

wisps of words - Yep, have to face the fact that my hand modeling days are over. (Never started!)

As far as that blogger goes, something just doesn't jibe. The blog had such a lovely and friendly and welcoming feeling. But if she suddenly decided to make it private, for her own reason, that's her privilege. Sad, though. :o\

Lynne - Gotta say I am proud of what my hands can do whether it be in the handwork department or out in the garden or splitting and hauling wood. But I am at fault in that I really don't take care of them. Like who's got time to apply creams and lotions? (I should!)

Rain said...

Hi Mama Pea :)) Nice that you got such a good harvest so far! Mine didn't fare well at all, day! How long does it take to dehydrate that amount? My old (and now long-forgotten) dehydrator used to take 24+ to dehydrate herbs!

Sam I Am...... said...

Thank you for that lesson in mint drying. I got a dehydrator at a garage sale but don't know how to use it as it came with no directions...I'm so anal I need directions for everything! I think with your instructions and your pictures I am going to give it a go! Are all herbs dried that way? I have lots of herbs growing and I want to preserve them. Would it work for basil? Anyway...I can use Google too. I just need to remember as they are growing rapidly here. Glad Papa Pea has his freshly dehydrated mint! Does he steep it with the tea in a tea infuser gadget? Just curious. I love learning new things. Thank you so much.

Mama Pea said...

Rain - This dehydrator with it's nine trays full took 5-1/2 hours. It's a new-to-us/second hand one we got at an auction as a back up to our tried and true almost ancient Bee Beyer dehydrator. It's an Excalibur which is very highly rated, but the jury is still out on it as far as I'm concerned. The fan is so strong it blew the mint leaves in the back (nearest the fan) all toward the middle of the tray on about half of them. I had to keep spreading the leaves out on the trays. Then when I unloaded all the trays, I found a big pile of leaves in the back left corner on the bottom of the unit. Hmmmm. As I say, I was not impressed.

Sam I Am - If you look up at my reply to Jenn's original comment, you'll see how my hubby brews his peppermint tea.

I'll bet you can find an instruction manual for your dehydrator on the Internet. Yes, all herbs can be dehydrated. I do lots of parsley in the growing season to use year 'round. Also make fruit leather which is a hit with kids and adults alike. Yum. Zucchini chips, too, strawberry slices to put in granola and things like that. One year I dehydrated a bunch of onions that were starting to sprout on me. Great in soups and stews. You can do a lot with a dehydrator!

Sparkless said...

We love our mint tea too. In the summer we just go outside and pick a few fresh leaves to make tea with. I've dried some in the past but I doubt I could manage enough for a full year of tea. I love the fresh leaves better than the dried ones.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the pictures and how to!


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