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.