How to Harvest & Prepare Mint
The best would be to harvest small amounts of the leaves as this helps the herb fill out. Also, young leaves have more flavor than the older ones.
Pick off the leaves when needed, making sure you harvest no more than one-third of the entire plant. If the plant is growing outdoors, cut the stems to one inch from the ground before it starts to flower. One mint plant can be harvested 2-3 times in one growing season.
Keep mint sprigs for a couple of days in water. As for the leaves, keep them refrigerated for a few days or preserve them by air-drying or freezing.
21 Uses of Mint
AS A FOOD
1. Vinegar and Oils
The best way to use up mint leaves while preserving their flavor is through a simple vinegar/ oil infusion. Apple cider vinegar and peppercorns go well with mint in pungent vinegar which is ideal in homemade mayonnaise or salad dressings. Flavored mint oil goes great with rice, fresh fish, vegetable dishes, and salads.
Mint is one of the first herbs we use when it comes to flavoring broth. There are many delicious combinations, such as orange, carrot and mint as well as simple, mint soup.
3. Sauces, Chutneys and Dips
Mint has critical role in many tasty sauces and dips, such as traditional mint sauce with roast lamb. Many Indian dishes go well with mint chutney or cucumber and mint raita. To flavor meat or vegetable dishes you can also prepare a mint pesto using garlic, parsley, oil, and lemon.
4. Vegetable Dishes
Apart from using mint infused oils/ vinegars or minty sauce, you can also add fresh mint leaves in your dish. There are endless options available and all you have to do is to be creative! Mint roasted veggies and chargrilled veggies with mint and feta cheese are something you can start with.
5. Salads and Sandwiches
Mint is typically overlooked when it comes to adding flavor to salads and sandwiches, but it really works wonders! It pairs with other greens, tomato, or cucumber. Feta, lime and mint dish is a traditional mint inspired salad recipe while fresh spring salad with corn, quinoa and mint is something more adventurous.
6. Noodles and Pastas
Noodle dishes and pastas can benefit from adding fresh mint leaves, brining their sweet flavor to the next level. Try creamy avocado pasta with mint, soba noodles with vegetables and mint, or cucumber mint noodles with ginger dressing.
The recipes calling for mint are endless- from cakes, cookies, cupcakes and ice-creams to different milkshakes. Among them are: mint cake, minty chocolate chip cheesecake brownies, fresh mint sorbet, peppermint patties, and a fresh salad garnished with mint sprigs.
The list of drinks using mint is quite extended. You can try mint lemonade, mint smoothie, verbena mint cocktail, classic mojito, or Lady Grey tea, lemon, and mint vodka drink.
AS A MEDICINE
9. Mint Essential Oil
Mint essential oil provides a wide plethora of health benefits- from relieving nausea, headaches, allergies, and stress to indigestion and respiratory problems. All you have to do is to infuse mint leaves in carrier oil like olive oil or jojoba for 3-6 weeks, leaving it in a warm and well-lit place.
10. Stress Relieving Bath
While bathing in warm water is enough to relax and unwind after a tough day, adding a little mint oil or a few mint leaves enhances its effects. It relaxes the muscles and stress due to menthol naturally present in the mint.
11. Quell Nausea and Aid Digestion
Peppermint helps soothe an upset stomach acid and improve digestion by relaxing the muscles of the digestive tract. It also helps ease gas by acting as a carminative and making the flow of bile more effective. Steep a teaspoon of fresh or dried peppermint leaves in a cup of boiling water and drink 4-5 times a day.
12. Natural Body Deodorizer
Deodorants and antiperspirants contain chemicals which are toxic and dangerous for both our health and the environment. Instead of using these products, eat herbs which are said to be body deodorizers, such as mint, sage, rosemary, parsley, and basil.
13. Improve Your Work and Workout
According to a research from the Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia, athletes who sniffed peppermint during exercise had greater strength and ran faster when compared to those who didn’t. Apart from improving your workout, sniffing mint helps in day-to-day activities as it improves clerical work and helps stay more alert.
14. Curb Your Appetite
A study done on the effect of peppermint on huger levels has shown that smelling peppermint leads to eating fewer total calories, calories from saturated fat, total fat, and sugar. The participants in the study who inhale peppermint had lower food cravings than those who didn’t.
15. Oral Health
Mint is the ideal addition to your oral hygiene routine due to its anti-microbial properties and ability to remove bad breath. You can prepare your own mint-flavored toothpaste, sip on a cup of mint tea, or simply chew on mint leaves.
16. Allergy Relief
According to a recent research, mint contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which provide a relief from the symptoms associated with seasonal allergies. Although further research needs to be done on the topic, there is no harm in boosting your intake of fresh mint.
17. Reduce the Pain Associated with Breastfeeding
A couple of studies suggest that peppermint gel or water may offer some relief from pain associated with breastfeeding. Peppermint water has been found to prevent nipple pain and nipple cracks in mothers who are breastfeeding. For pain relief, simply apply cool mint-infused water to the affected area.
18. Headache Cure
Due to its cooling effect on the skin and its ability to stimulate blood flow and stop muscle contractions, peppermint oil helps reduce pain associated with tension headaches. For optimal results, dilute 2-3 drops of peppermint oil with coconut oil and rub it into the forehead, shoulders, and back of the neck.
19. Clear Sinuses and Nasal Congestion
The best thing you can do during cold and flu season is to drink homemade mint tea! It soothes the throat and it also opens the nasal passages, clearing out the sinuses.
20. Sunburn Relief
Infuse black tea and fresh mint to calm the burned, red skin. The tannic acid in black tea restores skin`s natural pH and draws heat from the burn while mint soothes and cools.
21. Repel Insects
Placing mint sprigs by doors and windows repels mosquitoes, ants and spiders as well as fleas from the bedding of your pet.