Mint is a very versatile herb, and you’ll find it in all sorts of recipes.
If you grow mint yourself, you know it grows prolifically from late spring well into autumn, but you’ll have more than what you know what to do with.
Some people avoid growing this herb as it is notorious for taking over gardens, and they don’t want the risk of it escaping.
Maybe you are always tempted by mint when it comes on offer – as nothing can replace fresh mint leaves.
But what happens when there’s too much? Will you have to throw it out? Can you dry mint? Can you freeze it for later, and still get that refreshing note?
Luckily, you don’t have to resort to drying it. You can freeze it, and there are several ways of doing it. These methods also apply to other herbs, too.
How To Prepare Mint For The Freezer?
Don’t be tempted to choose the worst mint you can, hoping that the freezer will save it. It won’t, and the freezing process will only make it worse.
Instead, choose the best mint you can. This applies to both homegrown and store-bought mint.
You’ll also need to wash it, very gently, to get rid of any dirt, bugs, or bacteria. Discard any wilting or bruised leaves.
Dry the mint with paper towels, and make sure they are dry as possible.
Now you need to decide. Do you want to freeze them whole, or just freeze the leaves? If you’re going to use the mint to flavor a dish, and then you’ll discard it, use it whole.
If you want to use the mint without defrosting it, or you want to use it in drinks, just use the leaves.
How To Freeze Mint Leaves?
If you’re not planning on storing the leaves for very long in the freezer, flash-freezing is the way to go.
It’s also useful if you don’t have a lot of time on your hands.
Simply spread the leaves in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. If you have too many, do it in batches.
Put the whole thing in the freezer for about 2 hours. When they’re solid, decant the leaves into a freezer bag, making sure to get rid of any excess air.
Seal, label, and lay the bag flat in the freezer.
Freezing Mint In Ice Cube Trays
If you want to use the mint leaves in cocktails, summer drinks, or any other beverage you can think of, using ice cube trays is the best way to freeze the mint.
After preparing the mint for freezing, you can either freeze the leaves as is, or you can chop them, whichever you prefer. Decant the mint leaves into the trays.
Fill the tray with water, enough to cover the leaves, but not all the way to the top, as the water will expand as it freezes.
Freeze the tray. Leave it in there until frozen solid, which may take about 2 hours. Remove the mint cubes from the tray, and decant into a freezer bag.
Get rid of any excess air, seal, and label. Lay the bag flat in the freezer, and you now have mint leaves when you need them.
Freezing Mint In Olive Oil
If you’re thinking about using the mint leaves in pesto, in a dressing, or as part of a salad, you can also freeze them in olive oil to make things easier.
This method also works well with basil or oregano.
After you’ve prepped the leaves, put them into a food processor along with a quarter of a cup of olive oil. Blend it until mixed, but not entirely smooth. You want the texture to still be uneven.
Get an ice cube tray, or several. Decant the mint and oil into the tray, leaving some room at the top of each section, so the mixture can expand as it freezes.
Freeze the tray until solid. Decant the cubes into a resealable freezer bag, but don’t take your time. The heat from your hands will cause the frozen oil to thaw!
Seal, label, and freeze flat in the freezer.
Should You Dry And Then Freeze Mint?
You can dry mint and then freeze it, but it’s not necessary. Both are ways of preserving the herb perfectly well, so doing both is a little redundant.
If you dry mint leaves, you will lose some flavor and nutritional value that the herb contains while fresh.
If you then freeze them, the process of freezing and thawing the herb will be more detrimental, as more flavor will be lost.
Having said that, if you want to experiment with trying to prolong the shelf life of mint leaves by drying and then freezing them, here’s how you do it.
Please note that drying herbs in the microwave isn’t the best method, but it’s there if you don’t have a spare three weeks to dry your herbs.
How To Dry and Freeze Mint The Quick Way
If the leaves are still fresh, put them in a single layer on a tray that you can safely microwave. Let them air dry for a few hours after washing them.
Transfer the tray into the microwave, and set the microwave to high. Cook them for about 3 minutes in 30 second increments.
These pauses are for you to flip each leaf, to make sure each side dries evenly.
Once cool, store them flat into a freezer bag. Seal, and label.
How To Get The Best Out Of Mint Leaves
If you feel drying herbs with a microwave is against everything you stand for (and you wouldn’t be alone), you can either use a food dehydrator, do it the old-fashioned way, or put them in the oven on a very low heat for about 3 hours.
To release the fantastic oils from mint leaves, pierce or partially crush a leaf between your (clean) nails or palms. This also helps when you go to add them to your favorite meals or drinks.
Use the freshest mint you can when you want to preserve them for later. This will also ensure the herb’s freshness when it defrosts.
How Long Does Mint Last In The Freezer?
Frozen mint leaves that were frozen at their best should keep for at least 3 months before they start to deteriorate.
If you dehydrate your mint, dried it, or roast it, it will keep for at least 6 months, but it won’t be the same as frozen and thawed mint.
Do You Need To Thaw Frozen Mint Leaves?
No. If you’re planning to use frozen mint leaves for drinks or in cooking, you can throw the cubes in directly.
In cooking dishes, the heat will thaw the mint and cook it at the same time, and the extra water is small enough not to matter.
When it comes to drinks, the ice is an added benefit. It will cool your drink while flavoring it, and don’t you wish it was always that easy?
Freezing mint is worthwhile, especially if you don’t grow your own. You can have it year-round without the added expense.
You can also use a mixture of dried mint and thawed, if you want to intensify the flavor.