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What to do with all the mint?

867 Views 8 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  Chanley
hi, i have a good sized patch of mint growing and i'd like to do something with it but i'm not sure what kind it is and i am clueless. i tried searching the forum, but didn't come up with anything, so i thought i'd ask
i did see a mention of some kind of foot treatment? i'd love to hear more about that...

i've been making a very tasty and refreshing tea with it all summer but i'm afraid the cold will kill it soon and would like to harvest and use as much as possible before this happens.

and also, i have an idea what the answer will be, but, is there any *right vs *wrong way to harvest herbs? i also have some basil and another herb (gosh i'm dumb when it comes to plants! it looks like really long grass, i'm sure you all would know it instantly, it's not uncommon
) that i'd like to take inside for the winter, but i haven't been using them because i'm afraid of killing them. i have really bad luck with plants
and of course i don't know what the second one is, so i don't know how to use it :LOL

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You can always dry the mint! I did this last year, spread on paper grocery bags in a warm but not light room. Then took off the leaves and saved them in a dry container. We drink tea all the time--it's nice with chamomile in the evening. In my experience (WI), it doesn't "sleep" until it's good and cold. And it will come back next year. I am less a fan of peppermint, but we have that too. I think that would make sense in a foot preparation. you can tell the difference just by smell. Chocolate mint has a purple-brown stem and dark green leaves and you get a whiff of chocolate.

Friends gave us basil--I ground it all up with garlic and froze it with olive oil--is that pistou?--and I have it frozen in small containers for use in all kinds of things. I just took off the leaves, washed them well, and put them through the grinder with garlic. Sounds like your other thing might be chives?? Some folks chop and freeze those in ice cube trays (with water) and use in soups/stews through the winter. They dry well too. I have never dried basil.
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I write an article for the local paper. this one might be of help.

What do I do with all of this mint?

Mint is one of those great herbs that does well no matter how much it is abused. In fact, it can become very weedy and take over gardens if not watched carefully. Most people who plant a mint in their yard will quickly find that they have an abundance of mint. With so many incredible varieties of mint, it is hard to resist adding more to the garden. Yet, finding ways to use these herbs is a bit more difficult than growing them.

We grow about 20 different varieties of mint so, it goes without saying that I always have plenty on hand and can be quite picky about which type I use for different reasons. I am still learning and exploring the uses of many mints. For the potted mints, I usually cut them back and dry the leaves for later use. The mints which are in the ground get mowed over when they leave the garden bed. This does not hurt them and certainly does not prevent them from spreading but does keep them from completely destroying the visual boundary of the gardens. It is advisable that if you want to plant a mint and do not want it to ramble throughout your lawn and garden, pot it in a plastic pot with the bottom cut out of it. A one gallon size nursery pot is preferable. Take the bottomless pot and bury it into the ground so that the lip of the pot is just a little above soil level. You can add mulch around the plant to help cover the ring of the pot. If you are planting pennyroyal, don't bother as it will spread from above ground runners. There is reportedly a place in Kentucky named after pennyroyal and it has an area of 11,500 square miles covered in this mint! I do not mind this one spreading as a ground cover as it does not get too tall and when it does flower, they are really pretty. We have a garden bed where the pennyroyal is slowly covering the entire bed under the established perennials. This helps keep weeds down so we have just let it go.

So what about the spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, chocolate mint, banana mint, lavender mint, English mint, Lebanese mint, ginger mint, bergamot mint, pineapple mint or any of the other tantalizing varieties? Well, luckily mint goes with just about anything and is very easily incorporated into many regular dishes. Here are some ideas:

-Make jelly! Mint jelly is a wonderful accompaniment to many dishes and is excellent with lamb. It is also good stirred into tea or used on your favorite biscuit. Jellies are also an excellent way of giving gifts from the garden. To make this mint, follow instructions for apple jelly except add a few handfuls of your favorite mint to the apple juice when it is boiling. Strain the liquid to remove the mint before pouring into jars. You can add green food coloring if you like but it is unnecessary.

-Ice cream!! Apple mint, lavender mint and chocolate mint make the best homemade ice cream. I recommend adding a handful of rinsed, chopped apple mint or lavender mint to a batch of vanilla ice cream. You won't be disappointed! Chocolate mint is amazing when a handful or two is added to a batch of homemade chocolate ice cream. The flavor is similar to a peppermint patty. You can even get try some more daring flavors by adding strawberries and spearmint to your vanilla ice cream.
-Make syrup! Use fresh mint to flavor a simple syrup. This syrup can be used to sweeten sweet tea and make your refreshing summer drink even more cooling. Mint syrup is also another great gift item.

-Add it to baked goods! Brownies and chocolate chip cookies are made even better with some chopped chocolate mint. Banana nut bread is also really good with some fresh mint added as well.

-Use it in salad! A wonderful simple salad can be made with fresh chopped tomatoes, Vidalia onions, minced garlic, cucumbers and chopped mint covered in a light drizzle of olive oil and sprinkled lightly with lemon juice and salt. YUM!!! This is the perfect summer salad to go with grilled rosemary chicken. It is even better stuffed into a pita the next day with some leftover chicken and a dollop of sour cream or yogurt.

-Bath with it! There is nothing like a mint rinse on the hot days of summer. To make this rinse, simply boil some water and mint leaves. Let cool. After washing in the shower, rinse your body with the tea. The essential oils from the mint will leave your skin feeling very cool and you will smell great! I prefer the lavender mint for this but all of them are good as a rinse. A pennyroyal rinse is great for repelling fleas on your dog. Do not use pennyroyal internally if you are pregnant.

-Make sachets! A mint sachet for your car will help keep you awake during a long drive. These are very easy to make. To dry mint for this purpose, simply cut several stalks and hang upside down in a cool dim place. If there is a lot of dust in your drying area, you can put a paper bag over the leaves. Let mint dry completely. Then pull the flowers off of the stalk. Put the leaves in a small cloth bag and hang from any area you want to add fragrance. Dresser drawers, closets, cars and inside shoes are all great places to stuff a sachet.

-Put it in your drink! Add mint to your coffee. If you do not want a bunch of leaves floating around in your cup, mince some leaves up finely and put them into the brew basket of your coffee maker. Mint will add a natural sweetness that will help you skimp on the sugar if you are trying to cut back. Mint is also good in hot chocolate or in steamed milk.

-Cover it in chocolate! I cannot think of anything that is not better in chocolate! But the next time you are making chocolate covered strawberries or bananas, be sure to try a few leaves of mint dipped in chocolate. For this I recommend spearmint, it has a bigger leaf which makes coating it in chocolate easier. Chocolate covered mint leaves are really pretty when used as a decoration for cakes and even as a garnish for fresh mint ice cream.

Have fun with your mints and let your imagination go wild. If you need to find mints to add to your garden, just give us a call at Deep Roots Nursery 534-5001.
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Mint Liqueur!
Wash a bunch of mint, remove leaves from stems and dry in salad spinner. Gently crush leaves with a rolling pin. Put about 2 cups of firmly packed leaves in a big jar, add two cups of sugar, and four cups of vodka. Shake, and store in cool dark place. Once or twice a day, turn the jar over several times. Eventually the sugar will be incorporated into the vodka and not look crystalline anymore. After a month, strain it and bottle it in fancy bottles. Give it away for the holidays.
The good news is it's very hard to kill mint!!! I live in Maine, a little north of you, and my mint is still flourishing. But I know that very soon, like yesterday, I need to cut it all down and hang in bunches in dry airy spot. By a heater is good or over fridge. Cut mint can get mildewy very easy, especially in moist climates, don't let it get moist after cutting down. Once it's dry (it will be crispy) you can do foot baths by tying a handful of mint in a cotton cloth and putting in your bath or tub of water for feet only. When doing foot baths, water should be as hot as you possibly can stand it. Try it, it's paradise!

The basil is an annual, so it will die unless brought inside today!!!!! No pressure there!!! The other might be chives, another plant you can't kill, at least not in our region. Those can be frozen or dried but really are best fresh. To keep those going and going good for long term, you may want to dig them up and cut the whole plant in half and replant in different place. FYI if you like tomatos, they grow really well in same beds as chives. Hope it is chives you are talking about. If you taste one, it's like a sweet onion and really good on potatos. It also will bloom purple flowers if you don't cut. After flowering, stem gets hard and not as tasty.

Good luck!
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So Happy, thank you for a great holiday gift idea!!!!!!!!!!!
i LOVE all these great ideas! thank you!!! i'm pretty bad with plants so i figure that anything that's still growing is a survivor :LOL

i think you all are right about the mystery plant being chives. that was my initial instinct, but i rarely use chives (if ever) so i wasn't sure. i would love to try growing tomatos with them next year. well i guess i better run outside and bring the basil in. there's a good chance it's already dead, but if not i think i'll make pesto tonight. yummmmmm!

ok, i know this is pretty basic stuff, but please bear with me. when i cut down the mint, do i cut near the bottom? or just the leaves? like i said before, i'm clueless!
Note to MaryTG -- try making cranberry liqueur, too. If you buy all the leftover marked down cranberries the day after Thanksgiving you have just enough time to make it for Christmas!
Just take some scissors and cut the mint. I usually grab a handful and cut below my fist. Believe me, you will not damage the plant, I promise.
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