Dry peppermint leaves for tea and beauty
My peppermint grows from March to October but after that it dies back for the winter. After then, I have two options to keep myself stocked up over the cold months. Pot some plants up inside or dry peppermint to use until it starts re-growing in spring.
Herbs dried carefully can preserve the flavour, colour, and essential oils from the plant for months to come. It’s also very easy to do and you can successfully dry mint, and other herbs, in both a food dehydrator or in an oven. Once dried, you can use it in tea or in beauty recipes like peppermint soap.
When to Harvest Peppermint
It’s easy to dry peppermint whether you too want to use it in beauty products or have some on hand for the kitchen. There’s some fun ideas on how to use dried peppermint over here.
Pick peppermint in the morning before the sun has a chance to evaporate away essential oils. Just take swathes of stems and leaves at this point. The rule with harvesting herbs for drying is to take the plant material when it’s at its prime. For peppermint this will be late spring for its first harvest.
If your peppermint is looking a bit scruffy, cut it down to the ground and let it regrow. Within weeks you’ll have plenty of fresh green leaves.
What happens during the drying process
Peppermint leaves will dry into a fraction of the size you began with. I’d estimate that it reduces down to around 1/8th the original size and maybe even a little less than that – you can see the difference between what you begin with and what you end with in the two pictures in the ‘Oven Method’ section below.
Whichever method you use to dry your mint, when it is fully dry, pulse it with a stick blender or food processor to make it more compact and easy to store.
Store it in sealed containers and store them in a cool and dark place to make it last at least a year.
Food Dehydrator Method
Pick your peppermint, rinse it with cool water, and allow to dry. Next, pluck the leaves from the stems and place them in a thin layer on the racks of your food dehydrator. The one I use is from Stockli. In the USA, I recommend this food dehydrator.
Dry at 40°C/105°F for three to five hours or until the leaves are brittle and crumble when rolled between your fingers. Allow to fully cool down before you store the dried peppermint in jars.
Oven Drying Method
After you’ve gathered a sizeable amount make sure to rinse and dry it thoroughly. Then lay it in a thin layer over a lined baking sheet and heat it in the oven at 40°C/105°F until you’re sure it’s completely dry. It takes about an hour with a convection oven but can take over double that time with a conventional appliance.
The mint will initially wilt and lie in sodden heaps on the tray so if you turn the mint over a few times during the drying process you can reduce the time somewhat. Opening the oven will also release moisture so make sure to do so fairly regularly.