Preserving Your Harvest – Mint Propagation Tips and Drying Instructions.
Mint is a fast-growing perennial herb that multiplies easily from cuttings. There is a mint for everyone, so take a trip to the nursery, ruffle some herb leaves, and pick a few that smell good to you.
I have orange, chocolate, spearmint and peppermint in my herb garden this year. Growing and preserving mint is easy – learn how.
Growing Mint – Watch Those Roots or Regret It
Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow. As long as it receives adequate water and has even moderately good soil, you can count on it to grow and grow and grow. In fact, if you don’t contain it, you will later regret it – mint can, and will, take over any area you put it in.
Mint spreads by underground runners, so grow it in a pot on your patio or plant it in a pot and sink it in the ground. Just make sure the roots can’t get out!
You cannot grow mint from seed and keep the plant true to it’s parent. Learn to take cuttings (your friends will gladly give a sprig away) and multiply your herb garden. Most herbs can be propagated by cuttings and mint is the easiest (click the link to check out my step-by-step guide.)
Making More Mint – Propagation Tips
- Early morning is the best time to take cuttings for propagating.
- The mother plant should not be under moisture stress.
- Choose the current or past season’s growth.
- Take cuttings from healthy, disease-free plants, from the upper part of the plant if possible.
- Avoid material with flower buds if possible, your cutting will put it’s energy into the bud and instead of redirecting it to produce roots.
- Keep the cuttings cool and moist until you have potted them up.
- If there will be a delay in working with the cuttings, store them in a plastic bag, with some water, in the refrigerator.
- Remove the leaves from the lower one-half, to two-thirds, of the cutting.
- On large-leafed plants, the remaining leaves may be cut in half to reduce water loss and conserve space.
- Insert the cuttings one-third to one-half their length into the growing medium you’ve chosen – potting soil or even water in a windowsill.
- Keep them well watered until roots form – 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the plant. Mint only takes days!
Growing Mint: Quick Tips
Mint is a hardy plant, so you don’t have to constantly worry about overwatering it, underwatering it, or not giving it enough nutrients. The only thing you SHOULD worry about is for it not to take over your garden.
- Grow mint in fairly large pots (it needs its personal space) with drainage holes, but ensure that the holes are covered with mesh or a thin layer of cheesecloth to prevent its underground runners from making the Great Escape.
- Make sure that your mint plants have enough drainage, but do keep the soil moist.
- Mint thrives in semi-shade, but you could grow a hardy plant if you keep the pot in direct sunlight yet with enough moisture on the herb’s liking.
- If you notice that the plant has become too leggy, remove it from the full shade.
- For your mint plant to maintain its strong flavor, transplant it every 3 years or so or grow new plants from cuttings or its runners. I’ve written a whole post on how I do it – it’s not rocket science: Refresh Your Mint Patch.
Preserving Your Harvest
You can store dried herbs for up to a year, maybe even longer, if you keep them in rigid containers with airtight seals. I like to use mason jars and seal them with my food saver attachment. Label your storage containers with the variety of herb you’ve dried and the date.
Make sure the leaves are completely dry and keep them in a cool, dry, darkened area; like a pantry. This will help protect against light deterioration. Dried mint can be stored whole or crushed, but whole leaves will keep their flavor longer. You can judge their strength by their aroma when they are crushed.
Dry the leaves of mint by using one of these methods:
- Air Drying, Hang them – Gather 4 to 6 stems of healthy mint and tie the ends together with a rubber band. Hang the bunches upside down in a warm(ish), dark, well ventilated room. The leaves should dry in seven to ten days, depending on conditions. Don’t forget to label the bunches so you remember what they are. I use this Folding Drying Rack for mine. (Amazon link)
- Air Drying, Put them on screens – Spread them evenly, on screens so that the air can circulate around, without the leaves touching. Keep the bugs away if you are doing this outside. Also, place the herbs in a warm place but away from direct sunlight (the Sun will discolor the plants.)
- Dehydrator – If you have one, this one is the easiest method. Lay out your leaves, none touching, and turn the machine on! When the leaves are crispy, they’re done.
- Oven Drying -Using screens, spread the herbs evenly with no leaves touching. Set your oven to its lowest temperature and place the screens in, keeping the door open. Check these every 30 seconds – they will dry quickly.
- Microwave Drying (Not recommended because of health concerns) – Place your mint leaves on a paper towel, no leaves touching. This is the quickest method! Dry them in 15 second intervals until they are crumbly.
- Freeze Them Whole– For the freshest taste, freeze your mint and other herbs. Lay mint leaves on cookie sheets until frozen and then seal in airtight plastic bags. Label with variety of mint and date. These will keep up to two years in the freezer if well wrapped.
- Freeze Them Chopped – Fresh leaves can also be chopped and Refresh Your Mint Patch, then filled with water and frozen. Place in airtight plastic freezer bags and label.
You’ve gone to the trouble – now use your mint! Here is a recipe for Fresh Mint Tea from FramedCooks.
You could also use your mint harvest to make a soothing Mint, Calendula & Plantain Herbal Bath Salt (Click the link for full recipe). You can make this salt with any type of herb in your garden but do not skip mint since it is both cooling and pain-relieving. You will need:
- 1 part fresh herb leaves
- 1 part Epsom salt (This one’s an amazing ingredient to have around the house; Check out its many uses);
- Baking soda (2 tablespoons for each cup of salt)
- Eucalyptus and peppermint essential oil (a few drops)
- Muslin bag
- Glass container
Share your favorite uses for Mint in the comment section below. We would love to hear from you.
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