Mint leaves are wonderful to have because there is so much you can do with them. You can sprinkle them on soups and salads, mix them with meats to make delicious meals, and put them in a teapot to make a delicious hot drink. They taste good and have a powerful fragrance, and they offer medicinal benefits as well.
There are many reasons to dry mint leaves and store them in your kitchen. Continue reading to learn how to dry mint leaves without an oven.
How to Store Fresh Mint Leaves
You can store some of your mint leaves fresh so that you can enjoy them. You should place them in a damp paper towel, and then place them in a plastic bag. Do not seal the bag all the way because you want the air to circulate. You should also make sure that you do not wrap the leaves too tightly in the paper towel because it could cause the leaves to grow mold.
An alternative method is to trim the ends of the mint leaves and place them in a glass with around an inch of water. You can cover the mint with a loose bag, and then place it in the refrigerator. You can replace the water if it starts to get cloudy. You can keep mint for a few days this way.
How to Harvest Your Mint
Before you dry your mint for storage, you need to harvest it. For almost all varieties of mint, it will be ready to harvest when it reaches the stage just before flowering. You will want to cut the mint in the morning, just after the dew has dried up. You will use a sharp knife or pruning shears.
Start by cutting the mint just about one-third of the way down the primary stem. This way, you are leaving the mint with enough strength that it will be able to grow back again. It is important to wait until the mint is about to flower because this is the time when it will have the most taste and smell.
At this stage in its cycle, the leaves have a lot of oil, which is what gives mint its aroma. As you cut the branches, be sure to shake them out a little bit and inspect them to make sure that there aren’t any insects attached to them.
How to Prepare Your Mint for Drying
The next step is to prepare your mint for drying. You will start by washing the mint leaves. You can place a strainer in the kitchen sink. Turn on the cold water, and run it over the mint. Once you have washed the mint, it is necessary to dry it thoroughly.
You can lay the mint on a paper towel to dry it, and take another paper towel and pat it dry. Next, you can place the mint on a paper towel so that the stem has a chance to dry as well. You should not pile the mint leaves on top of each other, or they won’t dry properly.
You may want to separate the leaves from the stems. In fact, it will be easier to remove the leaves before the mint dries. You can pull the leaves off the stalks with your fingers, or you can cut them off with a sharp knife.
Make sure that you look closely at them as you go through this process so that you will notice if there is any damage or disease. If you notice any leaves that are discolored, you should throw them out now.
Method 1: Air Drying
One method that is fairly popular is air drying. You can make little bunches of mint and tie them together with a thick string or twine. You should tie the twine tightly down by the stem of the leaves so that the leaves are exposed. For this method, it might be helpful to keep your mint leaves attached to the stems.
Once you tie the mint together, you can hang the bunches in a warm area that is dark and has good air circulation. You can hang them from the equivalent of a clothesline or run a string across the pantry closet. Just try to find a spot that is warm and dark.
If you don’t have a dark space that is adequate, you can always put a loose fitting paper bag over the mint so that the light doesn’t bother it. The key is to make sure that the room is at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit
Hang the bunches of mint upside down, and this will cause the oils that are full of flavor and a wonderful scent to travel to the leaves.
Since you will leave the stems attached for this method, after a few weeks, the mint should be dry, and you can pull the leaves from the stem. If you hold the end of the stalk, when you run your hand down the leaves, they should drop right off.
Method 2: Microwave Drying
Another method for drying your mint is to use the microwave. You can start by placing the mint leaves on a microwave safe plate. Do not pile them on top of one another. You can power the microwave on for 10 seconds at a time. It is important to check them every 10 seconds because different microwaves can dry them out more quickly than others
You should make sure that they don’t become curly or crisp, and you should be able to complete this process in between 15 and 45 seconds. You want to make sure that the leaves stay green, although they can taste fine even if they turn brown.
If you want to place the leaves in a bowl on top of each other, you can still microwave them, but you will try to go every 30 seconds this time. It will take you a total of anywhere from one to three minutes.
Method 3: Food Dehydrator
When you prepare your mint for the food dehydrator, you should keep it in a single layer without overlap. When you keep the leaves in a single layer, they will dry more quickly because each one will receive the same amount of heat.
You can put the dehydrator on the lowest setting. Next you should take the dehydrator tray and place it in the dehydrator. You only need a low amount of heat to dry most herbs. If you do not have a thermostat in your dehydrator, you will need to check the device often so that your leaves do not burn. If you have extra trays in the dehydrator, you should remove them before you get started because they will block air flow.
Once you have your mint in the dehydrator, you will want to check it every five minutes. You should take it out when the edges are curling up and the leaves look crispy.
Method 4: Dehumidifier
Another method that you can use is to run a dehumidifier when you are drying out your mint. The dehumidifier makes the air around it very dry by taking the humidity out of the air. In this case, you can lay your mint on a plate or a paper towel next to the dehumidifier and turn it on. In addition to drying your mint out, it will help to make sure that it doesn’t develop any mold.
If you have a rack that you use for baking cookies or cakes, you can use it for this method. Take the rack and spread the mint leaves out on it in a single layer. The great thing about a cooking rack is that it allows air to circulate below. This will ensure that the mint is thoroughly dry when you finish the job.
Alternative to Drying: Freeze Your Mint
Sometimes people prefer to freeze their mint. This can be very refreshing, especially in the warmer months. There are several different ways to freeze mint effectively, and it can stay fresh in the freezer.
The first method is the ice cube method. You can remove the damaged leaves from your batch of mint, and choose good pieces and place them on a paper towel so that they can dry out evenly. Pat the mint leaves until they are dry.
Then, you can chop the mint leaves into smaller pieces. You will want to place one or two teaspoons of mint into the spot where the ice will form in an ice tray. You can fill the ice cube holes about halfway, and then add water to the top. Now you can stick it in the freezer, and let the mint ice cubes freeze.
You can move the ice cubes to an airtight freezer bag or to a container that you keep in your freezer. It should stay fresh for around three months.
Another method for freezing your mint is to take your ice cubes and then place them in a freezer bag with sprigs of mint. This will hold in the flavor and allow you to get ice cubes that are delicious and smell great.
Finally, you can take small amounts of mint and place them on a baking sheet. You can then freeze the mint leaves on a baking sheet for a few hours. Once you finish, place the mint into the freezer bags, where it will last around three months.
How to Store Your Dried Mint
Once you have dried your mint, you will want to store it. If you have frozen the mint, it is easy to store the ice cubes in plastic bags or in an ice container in your freezer.
However, if you have dried the mint out and want to keep it out of the refrigerator, you have alternative options. One choice is to use clean, airtight containers.
Take the dried mint leaves, and stack them in the container. The most important thing is that the lid is airtight, if possible. Try any of the following types or canisters:
- Canning jar with a tight lid
- Metal, nonporous, and nonabsorbant canisters
- Glass jar with airtight lid
Once you have placed the mint inside of the container, you should label it with what it is and when you dried it out. This way you will be sure to use it before you finish its useful life.
It is better to store your mint as whole leaves, and then you can crush it when you are ready to use it. When you crush it and chop it up, it will lose some of its flavor and aroma. By leaving the leaves whole until you are ready to use them, you will find that it holds its flavor and aroma longer.
When you have stored your mint leaves, be sure to check on them every so often. You need to make sure that no mold is growing because any moisture can cause this to happen. If you see any moisture start to develop, you should immediately dry the mint plant.
Finally, it is important to store the container with the mint in a cool, dark, and dry spot. You will want to use the mint within a year or it could go bad.
Make sure that you do not try to store it in cardboard or paper containers because those materials will absorb the taste and smell of the mint before you get a chance to taste it.
If you want to harvest and dry your mint without using an oven, you have alternatives to choose from. Air drying is effective, as is using a microwave. It is important to make sure that your mint is thoroughly dry so that it doesn’t develop mold.
If you have a dehumidifier or a dehydrator, those are great pieces of equipment that will help. The key is to dry the leaves out so that you can save them for a later time. You can also freeze the mint in ice cubes for a refreshing addition to your summer drinks. It is not difficult to do, and you will be able to enjoy having your mint in a variety of different meals.