Mint requires frequent harvesting to keep your plants healthy. The younger leaves have more flavor than the older ones, so it is important to keep up with frequent harvesting so you can enjoy their fresh taste.
Mint harvest can begin once the plant reaches approximately 3-4 in (8-10 cm) in height. You can harvest individual leaves or you can cut the stems one inch from the soil and have it regrow. You can harvest the same mint plant 2-3 times in one growing season.
Start by cutting or pinching off approximately 1/3 of the length of the stem, directly above the set of side shoots (nodes) that emerge from the stem.
Once harvested, mint can be stored fresh, frozen, or dried. See below for specific guidelines on how to ensure that your mint is properly kept!
- Fresh mint can be stored in the refrigerator by wrapping the mint in a damp paper towel then loosely wrapping in plastic.
- Once harvested, pat the mint leaves dry with a towel. Next chop the leaves and remove the stems. Place 1-2 teaspoons of leaves and water in an ice cube tray and freeze. Once completely frozen, store in an airtight container or freezer bag for future use.
Mint can be dried whole via the microwave, oven, food dehydrator, dehumidifier, or naturally air-dried upside down. Always Ensure that the mint is completely dried before storing in a non-absorbent, airtight container. Mint will develop mold if not properly stored dry.
- Spread leaves on a microwave-safe plate in a single layer. Begin to microwave in 10-second intervals, checking frequently for crispness. They should be dry in 15-45 seconds.
- Preheat oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius). Too high of a temperature can produce a flavorless or aroma-less result. Once oven has preheated and remained at the proper temperature for a few minutes, turn off, and insert mint leaves spread in a single layer on a baking sheet (do not use cooking spray). Let the mint dry in the warm oven for 5-10 minutes, checking every 5 minutes. They are adequately dry once leaves have begun to curl and become crispy, while still remaining a green color.
- Keep mint in a single layer with little overlap and turn dehydrator onto the lowest setting, checking every 5 minutes.
- Place mint in a single layer on a cooling rack and place directly in front of the dehumidifier.
- Gather mint into bundles and tie small bunches tightly together at the stem using thick string. Hang mint upside-down by string in a warm, dark, well-ventilated area. This will force the flavorful oils to travel to the leaves rather than in the stems. The mint should be dry after 1-2 weeks and the leaves should be stripped from the stems.