Springtime is prime time for harvesting herbs for medicines and teas. The temperate weather allows delicate and not-so delicate herbs to grow abundantly in the garden, and plentiful harvests are sure to follow. Mint plants produce and multiply like crazy and trying to figure out all the ways we can use it can be pretty tricky. Here is my 7-step formula on how to use mint leaves, as well as the rest of the harvested parts of the plant.
I love to try to figure out all the different uses for my produce harvests. I’ve gathered many tips and tricks for a no waste produce harvest–it’s kind of a hobby of mine. It always seems a shame not to try to use our fruit, vegetable, and herbs at least one more way before it gets to the compost pile. After all, it takes a long time to harvest one basket full of mint, so the more uses I can get out of one load, the better!
Because it seemed like I had mint coming out my ears, I came up with a few ideas that would allow me to use every bit of my harvest. I’m really satisfied with this method and will be using it from now on, as it just makes so much more sense than throwing everything that’s not perfect onto the compost pile.
How to Use Mint Leaves
Sort and Pick All of the “Pretty” Leaves
Pick off of the stems all of the leaves that don’t look like they’ve been chewed on, or have any dried or discolored spots and set aside for preservation. Don’t throw away the less-than-perfect parts just yet.
Wash the “Pretty” Leaves
When you are finished pulling off all of the best leaves, soak them in water for a few minutes, swirling them around to loosen dirt. Let the dirt fall to the bottom of the bowl by allowing them to soak 5 minutes.
Pinch Off Imperfect Leaves
With the less-than-perfect pile, remove all leaves from the stems by pinching off the top leaves, the holding the stem by the very top, pinch directly beneath your fingers with your other hand, then slide fingers down the stem, removing the leaves.
Set Aside the Imperfect Leaves
Set aside all of the imperfect leaves to use in the rabbit hutch tray or chicken coop nesting boxes.
Preserve the “Pretty” Leaves
Remove all of the leaves soaking in water and strain. Gently squeeze the clump of leaves only enough to get most of the water out, being careful not to damage them.
Use or Preserve Your Leaves
Use immediately for mint syrup, mint iced tea (made the same way as iced tea, just with mint), or in your salad.
You may want to dry them for later use. To do that, dehydrate at at 95 degrees until completely dry (or let them air dry on a towel on your kitchen table). Store dried leaves and use for teas and tinctures.
Save Your Stems to Make These Cool Rabbit Toys
Put all of your stems into the water to wash them off. Let them dry in your dehydrator or air dry. Bundle dried stems with short pieces of cotton yarn (make sure to trim off any long ends before you give them to bunny).