Mint is a healthy ingredient, with a pinch of it giving a cool, refreshing flavor to a variety of dishes. You may be wondering what to do with the leftover mint that you cut off to add to your lamb curry or mojito? While storing mint is easy, it's important to get it right to keep it fresh and flavorful. To prolong the life of the mint, place the herbs in water (like flowers), wrap them in a paper towel and store in the refrigerator, or freeze the leaves in ice cubes.
Method 1 of 3: Store mint shoots in water
Step 1. Rinse the mint gently
Remove the rubber band holding the fresh mint bunch. Rinse the mint under running cold water, being careful not to damage the delicate leaves if possible. Shake the remaining water off the leaves and stems, then spread the mint on paper towels.
- Before using or storing herbs, be sure to wash them, as traces of dirt and bacteria or residues of pesticides and fertilizers may have accumulated on them.
- Turn on the tap to a minimum so that the water flow is relatively weak.
Step 2. Trim the bottom of the stems
Use scissors to cut the edges of the mint stems. This will allow the herbs to absorb water more easily. Do not prune the mint sprigs too hard, or they will not be able to stand in the water properly.
Trim the stems at a slight angle to help absorb water even better
Step 3. Submerge the ends of the mint a few centimeters in the water
Fill a small vase, jug, or other small container about a third full with water. Insert the bunch of mint into the container, stems down, so that the trimmed edges are completely submerged in the water. Now that mint has constant access to water, it will last longer.
- Change the water every few days to keep it clean.
- Use distilled or mineral water to keep the peppermint even longer.
Step 4. Cover the mint with plastic
Wrap an empty plastic bag or a piece of cling film around a bunch of mint to block out air. Wrap plastic wrap around the base of the container and secure it there with an elastic band. Store mint upright in the refrigerator if you have enough space, or in the corner of a countertop.
- If wrapped properly and provided with enough water, mint can last for weeks or even a month.
- Chilled mint usually lasts a few days longer than if stored at room temperature.
Method 2 of 3: Wrap the mint in a paper towel
Step 1. Wet a layer of paper towels
Tear off 2-3 layers of towels and fold them in three to form a thick layer. Dampen paper towels in cold water, then squeeze out excess water. The towels should be damp but not soaked through.
- Folded paper towels are more resistant to getting wet and folding.
- Too much water can cause herbs to rot quickly. Therefore, it is so important that the paper towels are not too wet.
Step 2. Place the mint sprigs on paper towels
Smooth paper towels and place them on the countertop. Arrange the mint in a row on one half of the paper towels. If the branches don't fit the width of the paper towel layer, trim them.
If you need to save more mint, wrap several separate bundles
Step 3. Roll up paper towels with crumpled inside
Fold the loose half of the paper towels over the mint. Then wrap the edge of the paper towels, leaving the mint inside. The mint will be pressed against damp towels from all sides, which will allow it to receive vital moisture and protect it from air infiltration.
- Roll the towels across the stems, not lengthwise, from stem to leaf.
- Do not wrap the mint too tightly to avoid crushing or tearing the leaves.
Step 4. Put the mint in the refrigerator
Place the wrapped bunch of mint in a ziplock plastic bag or airtight container. Store the container in the refrigerator, removing it only when you need to add a few fresh mint leaves to a snack, smoothie, or dessert.
- Chilled in a damp paper towel will retain its color, aroma and freshness for 2-3 weeks.
- If you don't have a separate storage container for the mint, wrap the bundle in an extra layer of dry paper towels and place it in the grocery drawer.
Method 3 of 3: Freeze the mint leaves in ice cubes
Step 1. Pluck the mint leaves from the stems
Rinse the mint under cool water. Pull the leaves off with your hands or cut them with a sharp kitchen knife just below the stems. Spread the leaves on a dry paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
- This is a great chance to process leftover mint or save a whole bunch when you get home from the store.
- Chop the mint leaves. After that, you just have to melt them when you need to cook, bake or mix drinks.
Step 2. Place the mint leaves in the ice cube tray
Use your fingertip to smooth the leaves along the bottom of the tray. Divide one to two sheets for each ice cube.
In trays that make cubes large or unusual in shape, place one or two more sheets
Step 3. Fill the ice cube tray with water
Slowly pour water into each groove, leaving a small space at the top of the tray to allow the water to expand when frozen. Don't worry if some of the leaves float to the surface - as long as they are inside the tray, they will be fine.
If mint ice cubes are for drinks, add a drop of lemon juice or a pinch of cane sugar
Step 4. Freeze the mint and melt it if necessary
Frozen mint will stay fresh almost forever. When you need it, take out a couple of cubes and melt them in a strainer under running warm water. Or add whole mint cubes to drinks or cocktails for a refreshing flavor. Yummy!
- Try chilling a pitcher of freshly squeezed lemonade or iced tea with mint ice cubes.
- When the mint leaves are thawed, press lightly on them between a layer of paper towels to squeeze out excess moisture.
- If you plan on storing large amounts of mint, use multiple storage methods to make the most of your refrigerator space.
- Regardless of how you store it, it is best to use the mint within a few days of purchase.
- Store herbs in disposable containers for convenience.
- Crush frozen mint leaves before use to bring out more flavor.
- Other types of herbs such as parsley, cilantro, and rosemary can also be kept fresh using these methods.