Updated May 10, 2023
Mint is a fragrant and versatile herb that can be used in a wide range of recipes, from refreshing summer drinks to savory sauces and marinades. However, if you're not careful, fresh mint leaves can wilt, lose their flavor, and become unusable. To avoid wasting this precious herb, it's important to learn how to store it properly. In this article, we'll explore five different methods for preserving mint leaves, drawing from the information and advice given in the following five articles:
The easiest and most straightforward way to store fresh mint leaves is to keep them in the refrigerator. According to EatingWell, you should first wash the leaves and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Then, you can either wrap the leaves loosely in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic bag, or place them in a glass or plastic container and cover them with a damp paper towel. This will help prevent the leaves from drying out and losing their flavor. You should change the paper towel every few days to ensure that it stays damp. Stored properly, fresh mint leaves can last in the refrigerator for up to a week.
If you have more fresh mint leaves than you can use within a week, freezing is a good option. According to The Kitchn, you should first wash the leaves and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Then, remove the leaves from the stems and chop them roughly. Place the chopped leaves in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, which should take about an hour. Once the leaves are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. When you're ready to use the mint leaves, simply remove the amount you need from the freezer and thaw them at room temperature for a few minutes. Frozen mint leaves can last in the freezer for up to six months.
Drying is another good way to preserve fresh mint leaves, especially if you plan to use them in teas, seasoning blends, or potpourri. According to Adams Farms, you should first wash the leaves and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Then, tie the stems together with a string and hang them upside down in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or closet. The leaves will dry in a few days to a couple of weeks, depending on the humidity in your home. Once the leaves are dry, you can remove them from the stems and store them in an airtight container. Dried mint leaves can last for up to a year.
Infusing fresh mint leaves in oil or vinegar is a great way to extend their shelf life and infuse your favorite dishes with minty flavor. According to MasterClass, you should first wash the leaves and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Then, place the leaves in a jar and cover them with a neutral oil, such as olive oil, or vinegar. Store the jar in a cool, dark place, such as a pantry or cupboard, for several days to a couple of weeks, depending on the intensity of the flavor you desire. Once the infusion is ready, you can strain out the mint leaves and store the oil or vinegar in a clean, dry jar. Infused oil or vinegar can last for several months.
If you're looking for a convenient way to add mint to your smoothies, sauces, or cocktails, blending and freezing might be a good option. According to A Couple Cooks, you should first wash the leaves and gently pat them dry with a paper towel. Then, place the leaves in a blender or food processor and puree them with a small amount of water until you have a smooth paste. Transfer the paste to an ice cube tray and freeze until solid, which should take about two hours. Once the mint cubes are frozen, you can transfer them to a freezer-safe bag or container. When you're ready to use them, simply drop the cubes into your blender or saucepan and let them thaw for a few minutes. Mint cubes can last in the freezer for up to three months.
In conclusion, there are many ways to preserve fresh mint leaves, depending on how you plan to use them and how long you want them to last. Refrigeration is the easiest and most versatile method, while freezing, drying, infusing, and blending are great options if you want to extend the shelf life of your mint or add minty flavor to your dishes. Whichever method you choose, it's important to start with fresh, high-quality mint leaves, wash them thoroughly, and store them in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. With these tips and tricks, you'll never have to waste a single sprig of fresh mint again.