Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Forty Square Feet of Mint

I decided to try Damsel's recipe for making peppermint oil.

In the process I discovered what I thought was peppermint in my garden is actually spearmint. At least I'm think it is.

After googling both, and finding they both basically can be stored and used for the same ailments (including relieving asthma), I decided to use Damsel's recipe with only one change: I used olive oil instead of vegetable oil, only because that's all I had, and it saved me a trip to the evil that is Walmart.

Going on the belief that any harvest should be done in the morning, to get the strongest and freshest produce, I pulled up approximately a 1 foot by 1 foot area of my mint bed. That only leaves me with another 10 foot by 4 foot patch. What will I ever do with only 40 square feet of mint?

This photo is for no other reason than I like it: this is my favorite harvest basket. I picked it up several years ago at some rummage sale, and even though it's seen better days, it's still perfect for cutting long stemmed herbs, and easy to carry even when loaded. (The reader can imagine some bucolic Hudson School painting with earthy, full-figured harvest women balancing baskets full of wheat shafts on their womanly hips, the sunlight falling softly on the fields behind them - at least that's what always pops into my mind.)

See - it's fairly shallow but you'd be amazed at how much holds.

Holds a lot huh?

The basket is sitting on top of a bucket filled with cold water. After the photo, the entire bundle of plants was placed in the water stems down, to keep them fresh until this afternoon when I could work with them.

And you know mint loves water. Not only did it stay fresh, but I think they almost started growing again right there in the bucket.

Just like Damsel instructed, strip the leaves from the stems. I too have an overabundance of mint, and no need to use the stems.

The entire bucket stripped down (watch that phrase get caught up in the search engines) to a pile of leaves about this size.

Chop into smaller pieces, again and again. (Note: the whole chopping event will clear up any symptoms of asthma, as well as clearing out your sinuses really, really well. It may have actually removed my sinuses. Plus the kitchen smells really good. )

Then pack the leaves into these classy little jars (picked up at the-mother-of-all-church-sales a couple weeks ago; read my other blog if that interests you).

Meanwhile I heat some olive oil to approximately 160 degrees (turns out you can use a meat thermometer to test the temp of liquids - who knew?). On my electric burners this means leaving it on the burner for approximately 10 minutes, with the heat set at a bit less than "3". It also turned out this was not enough oil, so I had to heat a little less than the same amount again to top the jars off.

Here's what the mint-and-oil-filled jars look like.

Aren't they pretty?
Apparently I have enough mint to make thousands of jars just like this.
We'll see what they look like after a month in the dark.
Thanks again, Damsel!


  1. Hey! You did it! I LURVE that basket and the jars too.

    Tomorrow is my one-month-mark for the mint I did like this so I'll be getting that out. Can't wait.

  2. Great - now you can tell me what to do with mine when it's ready - do I add it to lotions? Rub it on afflicted sore muscles?
    Inhale it for asthma issues? Down it like a drunken sailor (that can't possibly be right)?
    I've got a month to dwell on this....

  3. It all looks very pretty & self-sufficientish....but what will you do with it?


  4. Damsel's oil is ready and today she's posted exactly what you can do with it - go check it out: