Dec 3, 2018

Tips & Tools: How to dry mint


Dried mint has a lovely fresh aroma and can be used as a seasoning, garnish, or in teas. This is my simple method to perfectly dry and store this versatile herb.


Mint is a hardy perennial herb available in many cultivars. The plant is easy to grow and found all over the world. Each culture has its own uses for this beautiful, fragrant herb. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) is what I grow in my garden. Spearmint's name comes from “spiremint” referring to the tall purplish spires of its blooms in late summer. The refreshingly mellow and slightly lemony flavor of spearmint makes it the preferred mint in Middle Eastern and South Asian cuisines.

This method of drying mint was taught to me by an elderly Syrian neighbor long ago. Prior to learning this method I would tie the mint up in bundles and hang them to dry in a well-ventilated area out of direct sunlight. This method is much easier and the mint dries faster. Bundling herbs to dry does not work well in most of South Asia. It is rather humid most of the year and herbs tend to get mold or mildew if bundled and hung to dry. I usually only dry mint in the Winter here in Nepal as that's when the arid and cold winds blow from the high Himalayas.

Here's what to do:

1) Harvest the mint:
  • Cut mint early in the morning as that is before the flavorful volatile oils have dissipated.
  • Cutting the mint just before it blooming if possible to ensure the highest concentration of flavors.
  • Cut 3-4 inch long sprigs oof the mint for easiest handling.
  • Gently shake the mint sprigs just after cutting to remove any lingering insects.
  • Use a colander or sieve to collect the mint sprigs while cutting, then rinse them under cold water gently. If you bruise them they will lose their volatile oils and flavor.
I picked this mint at 8 AM. I use our iron patio table to dry the mint after rinsing. It is shaded by an umbrella and the metal grate allows for best air circulation
 2) Allow cleaned mint sprigs to air-dry: 
  • Spread the washed mint sprigs out on a clean and dry surface out of direct sunlight. I use our metal patio table but a metal baking sheet or serving tray will work also.
  • Try not to overlap the mint sprigs so no water gets trapped on the leaves.
  • Allow to fully dry. The mint should look wilted when properly dried.

3) Place air-dried mint sprigs on a flat baking sheet or serving tray:
  • Place them as close as possible but try not to overlap.

4) Place the mint-filled trays on top of the refrigerator:
  • This is just genius! My Syrian neighbor taught me this. The air is warmer and dryer atop the fridge and the trays are completely out of the way. The mint stays out of direct light on top of the fridge too.

5) Allow mint to dry completely. Check mint daily to make sure no moisture or mold is present: 
  • Remove and discard any moldy or brown leaves.
This took only 3 days to dry!

6)  Transfer the dried mint into a clean, airtight container:
  • I like to store the mint as whole dried sprigs and crush it by rolling between my hands to use it. The flavor and aroma will keep longer if the leaves are kept whole.
  • Choose with tight lids and made of non-porous, non-absorbent material such as glass, plastic, or metal. Paper, cardboard, plastic, and wood containers absorb the volatile oils from the mint.
  • Label each container with the current date and contents. For best flavor, use the dried mint within a year.
  • Store in a cool, dry, and dark spot.  


So that's my method for drying mint!
I use dried mint in my Kashmiri Eggplant with Tomatoes (Tamatar Wangan), Cucumber and Mint Raita, Kashmiri Walnut Chutney (Doon Chetin) ,and Kashmiri Onion Chutney (Ganduh Chetin).
Do you have any favorite recipes that use dried mint?
Any tips for drying herbs you can share?

12 comments:

  1. I often wonder what's been left out to dry when we're exploring Indian neighbourhoods, now I can add mint to the list!
    What an ingenius idea to put it on top of the fridge, even the cats don't get up there.
    You've just reminded me that I planted some mint a couple of years ago, I should go and investigate how it's doing in our overgrown (extremely wet) wilderness! xxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Vix,
      It's usually veg for pickles that I see drying around here.
      Go check that mint! I never would have thought of the top of the fridge to dry anything- genius!
      xox

      Delete
  2. hmmm mint!
    i use this big flat boxes made from thin wood the fruits come in - layered with baking paper to pre-dry the mint and other herbs. thankfully the railroad company, who build the house in 1893, added a little spare attic which is perfect for drying plants! see: https://bahnwaerterhaeuschen.blogspot.com/2015/09/krauterhexe.html
    the final drying is done on the top of the tiled oven......
    xxxxx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi beate,
      OOO! What a neat little room to dry herb & fruit.
      xox

      Delete
  3. I have an electric dehydrator but for drying small amounts I bundle them losely and hang the from hooks in the kitchen. The top of my fridge is a wasteland of old telephone directories, calendars, and wine we will probably never drink.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Goody,
      Oh dear, well you can see the top of my fridge hosts a gilt framed Botticelli print. (As well as drying herbs.)

      Delete
  4. What wonderful and innovative way to dry mint, who could have thought of refrigerator as a drying device. Your refrigerator seems to be bigger and different from other domestic refrigerators. We once grew mint in our garden, it grows fast and covers up a lot of ground. I have never used powdered mint, but seen it used mostly in chaats and other savory items.

    We associate mint with the legendary green digestive solution called "Pudin Haara", which came in a small bottle. Few drops of it in water was the be all for all stomach problems in my childhood.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Apple,
      That fridge is a HUGE American style side-by-side model. Don't even ask how much it cost to haul that thing up here!

      Delete
  5. Mint grows like wild fire here but I'm not sure it's the spearmint variety - must check...very useful information, Bibi. Thank you!
    xx

    ReplyDelete
  6. For basil, mint and tarragon, I skip the water rinse but do inspect the leaves for debris and pests. Then I strip the lower twigs to make small "bouquets" bound with rubber bands. These I hang inside small paper bags closed with another rubber band. My garage is hot, dry and dark in the drying season -- so the bags are parked on the work counter for a week or so until the process is complete.
    Then, like you, Bibi, I store them in recycled glass jars. They make excellent "hand gifts" during the holiday season!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Beth,
      I also skip the water rinse unless it has been unusually dusty. (I just didn't want y'all to think I was filthy.) That extra moisture often leads to mold and mildew.
      Putting the drying herbs in paper bags is a great idea! They'll lose less of their flavorsome volatile oils out of sunlight and the paper will hasten loss of moisture.

      Delete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Printfriendly