How to Preserve Mint Leaves

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You can preserve mint leaves.
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Perhaps you have been out walking along a stream's edge and discovered the smell of mint (​Mentha​ spp.) wafting through the air. Finding wild mint is fun and of course it can be transplanted to grow in your garden in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 11, depending on the mint species. During the warm summer months, mint grows plentifully, but as soon as the first frost hits, the leaves will turn black and wilt, making them unusable for flavoring and preserving. Preparing ahead of time to preserve mint leaves for winter will enable you to enjoy that fresh flavor until spring comes and your mint regrows from the roots.

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Harvest the Mint

Pick your mint first thing in the morning, cutting off 12-inch sprigs with a pair of sharp scissors. Give it a good shaking to make sure you are not carrying any stray bugs on the leaves or stems. Rinse the cuttings under cold water and tie a length of cotton string or garden twine around the base of the stems.

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Put the bundle of mint in a paper bag, then hang to dry in a warm, dry and dark area. After a few days, they should be quite dry and brittle and they can be crunched and crumbled into a container to be used as dry tea leaves.

Preserve Mint Leaves by Freezing

Freeze the mint in order to get the full flavor of fresh mint. Pick the fresh mint in the morning and remove from the stems. Simply pack them into a suitable freezer container of your choice and store in your freezer until ready for use.

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If they freeze together in a clump, they can be crushed with a sturdy wooden spoon. These frozen leaves will be wilted when they thaw, but they will still have the essential oils and fresh flavor.

Make Mint-Infused Flavoring

Pick the fresh mint first thing in the morning and rinse clean. Shake off any excess water. Remove the leaves from the stems and place them in a decorative, food-safe jar or bottle. Once about a cup of leaves have been placed in the jar or bottle, pour in about a quart of vodka.

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Cover and set aside in a cool and dark place. The alcohol will dissolve the essential oils and flavors and leave you with a very strong mint-flavored vodka that can be used as is or as a flavoring in cooking. The longer it sits, the stronger the flavor will get.

Boil Into Mint Syrup

Add the freshly picked mint leaves to a simple sugar syrup and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and pour into bottles. The leaves can be left in for stronger flavor, or removed just before bottling.

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Select your favorite home preservation recipe and follow the directions for canning jam and jellies to store without refrigeration. This syrup will have a wonderful fresh mint flavor that can be used in drinks, ices or other recipes calling for mint syrup.

Make Mint Sugar

Layer the fresh and dry leaves on a layer of granulated sugar. Cover with another layer of sugar. Continue layering until the container is full. Cover tightly and store for about one month.

The dry leaves or minted sugar can now be used in various recipes. The minted sugar is a wonderful sweetener for tea.

Warning

Don't leave mint out for a long period of time before preserving. This will defeat the purpose and sabotage your efforts.

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