Fresh herbs are a real asset to the garden in the summer. They give dishes a very special flavor and can still protect against pesky insects. One of the most popular summer herbs is mint, whose leaves are the perfect complement to summer drinks and desserts. If you grow the plant yourself, you can increase yields with the right technique. How to properly harvest mint, we reveal in the article!
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When to harvest mint?
Frequent harvesting is the key to keeping mint in top shape. Young leaves taste better than old ones, and can be harvested as soon as the plant emerges in the spring.
Since mint is a fast-growing plant, it can be harvested in small quantities throughout the season – from spring through fall. However, if you want to harvest larger quantities, there are a few things you should keep in mind.
Summer is considered the best time for harvesting. Before flowering in June or July, the content of essential oils in the leaves is the highest and their aroma – the most intense. Those who want to harvest and store mint, should plan a generous cut in July.
When harvesting mint, the time of day also plays a role. The essential oils that give the herb its flavor are most concentrated in the morning, so it’s best to harvest mint leaves earlier in the day. For mint in the garden, the morning is best, and a few hours after the morning dew, when the plant is dry.
Harvesting mint properly – it all comes down to technique.
Whether you grow mint in your garden, or have a supermarket specimen in your kitchen, with the right harvesting technique, you can harvest fresh mint all summer long.
In the summer, we often need just a few mint leaves to mix up a refreshing drink or add to a dessert. In this case, we simply pluck off a few leaves and leave the plant alone. But this approach can cause the plant to stop producing leaves and die prematurely. So instead of picking the leaves by hand, reach for the scissors.
- Disinfect a sharp pair of scissors or a sharp knife. This step ensures that the plant is not affected by diseases.
- Select a young stem and cut it back by half. Always cut above a pair of leaves so that the shoot can form new leaves.
- Do not cut back the entire plant, but allow a portion to flower. The flowers of peppermint are loved by pollinators and can also be used in cooking and as decoration for food and drinks.
How often to harvest garden mint
While you can harvest fresh mint leaves at any time, the optimal time to harvest is when the plant has reached a height of ten inches and just before it begins to bloom (around the middle of the growing season). If you keep mint in a pot, you can prune your plant continuously so that the growing season continues throughout the year.
Also, if you harvest mint frequently, you can make sure it doesn’t spread throughout your garden and instead focuses on regrowth – a good way to keep fast-growing plants in check.
What you can use fresh mint from your garden or pot for
Mint tea: simply bring a pot of water to a boil and add some washed mint leaves – whole or chopped – to a cup or teapot. Add the hot water and let the tea steep for four to five minutes. Strain the mint leaves and add honey or other sweetener to taste.
Mojito cocktail: This classic cocktail is prepared with mixed mint, sugar, rum, soda water, lime juice and fresh lime. Garnish the cocktail with lime slices and additional mint leaves.
Fruit Salad: Garnish fruit salads with chopped mint leaves to add extra flavor.
Mint pesto: You can make a Mediterranean version of Italian pesto with walnuts, fresh mint, lemon juice, olive oil, feta, salt and black pepper.
Mint ice cream: If you need something to cool down in the hot summer days, you can also make a refreshing mint ice cream yourself – you can find a few recipes here .
Store mint leaves properly
You’ve harvested your plant and now you’re wondering where to put all that mint. There are a few ways to store the aromatic leaves for the short and long term.
Store in the refrigerator: For best results, store freshly harvested mint in the refrigerator. Wrap the mint sprigs in a damp paper towel and place them in an unsealed plastic bag or aluminum foil in the refrigerator. If stored properly, mint will keep between three and fourteen days.
Dry with a dehydrator: set your dehydrator to 40 degrees Celsius and dry the bright green leaves for about an hour. Dried mint leaves will keep for several months if stored in an airtight container in a cool, dark place.
Freeze in the freezer: chop the mint leaves into small pieces and place some of the chopped mint (about a teaspoon) in each compartment of an ice cube tray. Fill the container with water and freeze. Use mint ice cubes to chill and flavor teas and soups, or thaw and strain to use the fresh mint for general use. Freeze mint to enjoy your harvest for several months.