For hundreds of years, the world has been enchanted by mint’s cool and refreshing aroma. This small, prolific herb continues to be a garden staple and is luckily very easy to grow and use. Here’s everything you need to know on how to harvest mint!
Mint is a very advantageous perennial herb. Most people choose to grow it in containers; otherwise, it can quickly take over a portion of the garden. One second, you have an itty bitty plant; the next moment, you have a whole community of mint leaves.
The Latin name for mint, Mentha, comes from the Greek myth surrounding the nymph Minthe. After being turned into a low-growing plant and getting trampled on, Hades gifted the plant a delectable aroma so everyone could remember her beauty.
To this day, mint is everywhere, from our toothpaste to our favourite cocktails. People love the refreshing quality of the cool herb. It also has some amazing health benefits, being used as a digestive aid. Cup of peppermint tea, anyone?
If you have a thriving mint plant in your garden, get prepared to harvest plenty of mint leaves this summer. Here’s how to harvest mint, store it, dry it, and use it!
In this post, we’ll learn…
- When to Harvest Mint
- How to Harvest Mint
- How to Store Harvested Mint
- How to Dry Mint
- How to Use Mint
- Frequently Asked Questions About Harvesting Mint
- More Burning Herb Questions Answered!
When to Harvest Mint
When mint reaches about four inches in height, feel free to begin harvesting mint leaves. The best time of day to harvest any herb is in the early morning. The plant has the highest concentration of oils in the morning, therefore containing the best flavour and medicinal value.
Mint should also be harvested before it begins to flower, which is about mid-way during the growing season. After the plant flowers, the flavour and leaf production will decrease.
How to Harvest Mint
You can pluck a few leaves off at a time if you only need a few, say for garnishes. Alternatively, you can snip off entire stems. To snip stems, find a leaf node where new leaves emerge and cut just above them.
Use sharp bypass pruners or scissors when harvesting mint. Ensure the pruners or scissors are clean by disinfecting them with rubbing alcohol.
Never take more than 2/3 of the plant in one harvest. This can cause the mint to go into shock. Usually, I would say to do no more than 1/3, but mint is very prolific, so vigorous harvesting can help keep the plant from spreading rapidly.
If you harvest lots at once, you should be able to do this 3-4 times during the growing season, making it ideal for succession planting. After 2-3 weeks, the plant will grow new leaves.
How to Store Harvested Mint
After harvesting, your mint will need cool temperatures, or it will wilt. Wrap your mint stems in a moist paper towel and then place them in a plastic bag or directly into a glass of water. Then, place it in the fridge, where it should keep for 7-10 days.
How to Dry Mint
Mint tastes delicious fresh, but it’s also a great idea to dry some so you have a supply in the winter when things get cool.
I like to collect stems in my hand until I have a good-sized bundle. Then, I secure it with some twine or a rubber band to hang it.
Make sure to…
- Hang upside down.
- Put it in a warm spot but out of direct sunlight.
- Keep the plants dry. Avoid moisture as much as possible.
After 2-4 weeks, check your mint to see if it’s dry. When ready, the leaves will crumble and fall off the stem with very little resistance. Place the dried leaves into a sealed glass jar and store them somewhere cool when not in use. They should stay good for one year before they begin to lose their flavour.
Here are more creative ways to dry and preserve herbs.
How to Use Mint
Mint is a lovely addition to drinks, desserts, curries, savoury sauces, and more. Here are a few creative ways to use your harvested mint when you have more than you know what to do with!
- Mojito mint popsicles with lemon and honey
- Sun tea
- Ginger mint lemonade
- Herb infused vinegar
- Fresh herb finishing salt
Frequently Asked Questions About Harvesting Mint
Ensure you’re only harvesting mint when it’s healthy. This means it’s actively growing, more than four inches tall, and well-hydrated.
Avoid harvesting during extreme heat or in the mid-afternoon sun. And never harvest more than 2/3 of the plant. After a couple of weeks, the leaves should be growing back and ready for another harvest.
Different varieties of mint, like spearmint or pineapple mint, can all be harvested the same way. They may have different maturity rates, especially if they have different growing conditions. Just pay attention to the plant growth and ensure you’re giving it enough recovery time when harvesting mint.