You can add mint to salads, soups, broths, cocktails, and many other preparations. In this article, we’ll look at how to prepare mint before using it for three specific purposes – cooking, brewing tea, and making cocktails.
Here’s how to prepare mint for 3 different uses:
- Chop fresh or dried mint for cooking.
- Dry and crush mint leaves to use for tea.
- Muddle fresh mint for cocktails.
1. Chop Fresh Or Dried Mint For Cooking
Mint is a popular addition to several recipes, including broths, soups, and curries. The contrasting flavor of mint imparts to any dish makes it a popular ingredient in various preparations.
And based on the kind of food you’re cooking, mint can be prepared in a few different ways:
- You can add fresh mint leaves to any dish once it’s been cooked. To bring out the flavors, though, you want to ensure you’re adding mint to savory and spicy dishes. Just finely cut the mint stalks into ribbons (chiffonade) and sprinkle them on your dish.
- You can crush fresh mint leaves and add them to sauces, soups, and broths for an enhanced flavor. Crushing releases more of the minty flavor, so you want to be careful with how much you’re adding.
- If you’re grilling meat or veggies, chop up some mint and sprinkle it on the piece of meat you’re cooking. Sprinkling mint on your grills won’t impart a strong aroma but will enhance the dish’s flavor.
- Dried mint leaves can be added to stews, broths, sauces, and soups while simmering. To dry mint leaves, you’ll need to do a bit of preparation using an oven or a microwave.
2. Dry and Crush Mint Leaves To Use For Tea
Mint tea is a popular health drink and contains antiviral and antibacterial properties that boost immunity. To prepare mint leaves for tea, you’ll need to dry the leaves beforehand and store them in an airtight container.
Here’s how you can dry mint leaves:
- Start by cutting off the bottom of the stalk below the last leaf.
- Wash the entire mint stalk under running water to clean the leaves and get rid of any dirt.
- Pick the discolored leaves off the stalk. You want to use fresh mint, so the discolored leaves may spoil the taste of the tea.
- Gently dry the mint leaves with a towel and spread them out on a baking tray. Ensure that the leaves are properly spread out, and they aren’t overlapping.
- Place the baking tray with the leaves in the oven for about 90 minutes. You want to periodically monitor the leaves and ensure they aren’t getting burnt.
- You’ll know the leaves are ready when they dry out and turn brittle or crisp.
- Take the baking tray out of the oven, remove the leaves from the stalk, and place them in an airtight container.
Whenever you want mint tea, heat some water and add a handful of leaves once the water is boiling. You can also use a tea sachet, fill it with mint leaves, and place it in a cup of hot water. Using a sachet will help slowly infuse the water with a minty flavor, leaving you with a cup of refreshing mint tea.
Healthy Fact: Mint tea is packed with antioxidants that help fight oxidative stress in the body.
How To Dry Mint Leaves
Dried mint leaves are a prerequisite in many recipes, and keeping a batch handy can help liven up any dish. Aside from making tea, dried mint leaves can be added to curries or soups while simmering to impart a distinct taste to your preparation.
You’ll need an oven to dry the leaves. Here’s a reminder on how to dry mint leaves and store them for future use.
How to dry mint leaves:
- Start by washing the stalk and cutting off the base below the last leaf.
- Remove the discolored leaves from the stalk and discard them.
- Place the leaves in a towel and pat them dry, then chop up the leaves and stalks a little to facilitate the drying process.
- Place these leaves on a baking tray and separate them, so they aren’t overlapping each other.
- Now put the baking tray in the oven and heat for roughly 90 minutes.
- Periodically check on the leaves to ensure they don’t get burned.
- Remove the leaves once they are crisp and brittle and store them in an airtight container.
You can now use these dried mint leaves to make tea or add them to your favorite recipes. Using dried mint in cooking is different from using fresh leaves, so do your research before trying it out.
3. Muddle Fresh Mint for Cocktails
Mint adds a zesty flavor to cocktails, masking the bitter taste of spirits. This herb is prevalent in cocktails that use clear alcohol, like gin or vodka.
Here’s how you can prepare mint leaves for a cocktail:
- To add mint to a cocktail, you’ll need to mash or muddle the leaves to release their flavor.
- Pick a few leaves off the stalk and add them to a glass. To capture the flavor, you’ll want to add a bit of liquid to the mint leaves, so the flavor is easily absorbed. You can either use syrup or a dash of water to help extract the flavor.
- Now you need a crusher or muddler. It’s best to use one with a flat, dull surface, so you don’t press the leaves more than required. Be sure to press the leaves with as little force as possible. This technique will prevent the flavor from overpowering the drink.
- Pour your drink directly into the glass in which the mint leaves were crushed.
- When you’re adding mint as a garnish to any cocktail, place a few leaves on your palm and give them a “clap” with your other hand. This simple trick will bring the aroma of mint to the top of the drink.
Note: Dried mint leaves shouldn’t be added to cocktails as they won’t impart the right flavor to your drink.
For more on how to use mint in a cocktail, check out this YouTube video:
Can You Eat Raw Mint Leaves?
Mint is frequently proclaimed to have several health benefits as it contains essential oils, vitamins A and C, and minerals like iron and calcium. It’s only natural that mint is a popular herb in health-conscious communities, like Ayurveda, yoga, and veganism.
You can eat raw mint leaves after they have been washed thoroughly, as mint is safe for most people and doesn’t usually cause side effects. Mint is safe for the most part and has not been shown to cause allergic reactions in people.
While it’s safe to consume raw mint, it’s crucial to ensure it’s appropriately cleaned before consumption. If possible, it’s best to eat organic mint leaves as they are free from pesticides and other harmful additives.
Mint leaves date back to Greek mythology and were first used in the Mediterranean region, after which they spread to other parts of the world. Since ancient times, this herb has been used in various preparations and has become a staple for dishes and drinks worldwide.
Indeed, it is a versatile herb with numerous health benefits, uses, and ways of preparation. Figuring out the correct preparation method and adding mint to your dishes can significantly improve the taste while giving your body a few essential nutrients.
I hope this article helped you figure out how to use mint, make it a part of your daily life, and start enjoying its benefits.
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For more, don’t miss How Often Should I Water Mint? | Indoors vs. Outdoors.
Hi, I’m Anne but my grandchildren call me Jelly Grandma. I have over 50 years of experience as a Southern cook and am a retired librarian. I love sharing what I have learned. You can find me on YouTube as well! Just click the link at the bottom of your page.
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