Questions & Answers - How To Dry and Store Mint  

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Question:

Can you put fresh mint in a dehydrator to use later. If so how long can you store it? Thanks You - Donna (4/28/02)


Answer: 

fresh mint leavesYes, you can dry fresh mint leaves. Mint is done just the same as other herbs you might dry. Most herbs are at their peak flavor just before flowering, so this is a good time to collect them for drying and storage.

To be certain, check drying directions on specific herbs in a reliable reference book. Cut off the herbs early in the morning just after the dew has dried. Cut annuals off at ground level, and perennials about one-third down the main stem, including the side branches.

Wash herbs, with the leaves on the stems, lightly in cold running water to remove any soil, dust, bugs, or other foreign material. Drain thoroughly on absorbent towels or hang plants upside down in the sun until the water evaporates.

Strip leaves off the stalks once plants have drained and dried, leaving only the top 6 inches. Remove all blossoms.


Natural or Air Drying:

Herbs must be dried thoroughly before storing. Herbs with high moisture content, such as mint and basil, need rapid drying or they will mold. To retain some green leaf coloring, dry in the dark by hanging plants upside down in bunches in paper bags. Hanging leaves down allows essential oils to flow from stems to leaves. Tie whole stems very tightly in small bunches. Individual stems will shrink and fall. Hang in a dark, warm (70o-80oF - 21.1o-26.7oC), well-ventilated, dust-free area. Leaves are ready when they feel dry and crumbly in about 1 to 2 weeks.

Over Drying:

For quick oven drying, take care to prevent loss of flavor, oils, and color. Place leaves or seeds on a cookie sheet or shallow pan not more than 1 inch deep in an open oven at low heat less than 180oF (82.2oC) for about 2 to 4 hours.

Microwave ovens can be used to dry leaves quickly. Place the clean leaves on a paper plate or paper towel. Place the herbs in the oven for 1 to 3 minutes, mixing every 30 seconds.

Storage:

When completely dry, the leaves may be screened to a powder or stored whole in airtight containers, such as canning jars with tightly sealed lids. For a few days, it is very important to examine daily the jars in which you have stored dried herbs. If you see any moisture in the jars, remove the herbs and repeat the drying process. Herbs will mold quickly in closed jars if not completely dry.

Once you are sure the herbs are completely dry, place them in the airtight containers, and store them in a cool, dry place away from light. Never use paper or cardboard containers for storage as they will absorb the herbs' aromatic oils.

 

 


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