Freshly cut mint not only smells amazing but it can also be used in the kitchen in everything from seasoning rubs to cocktails.
It’s easy to grow fresh mint and keep a private supply on hand. According to the University of Maryland, Mentha piperita by its botanical name, or the mint plant is a hardy perennial that grows vigorously.
When you’re ready to harvest a sprig of fresh mint, how do you harvest the mint leaves?
In this article, I will walk you through the process so that you can harvest your mint and leave the plant alive so you can come back and harvest some more.
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How to Harvest Mint Leaves
Use a pair of sharp scissors to cut the mint stem into the middle between branching nodes a few inches above the ground. Remove the branch and put it aside. Continue until you have harvested as much mint as you want, up to 2/3 of the total foliage without shocking the plant.
Harvesting Mint Leaves
You can also pluck the leaves individually with your fingernails if you only need a few. The smallest leaves are the most flavorful, and removing them only encourages new growth.
What’s crucial is to make clean breaks. If the stem is bent or twisted, rather than cut cleanly, there is a higher chance of infection.
A clean-cut quickly scabs over and heals.
Harvesting frequently without taking much is the best way to ensure that growth is constant and the plant is never shocked into producing less.
If it is more convenient, you can harvest mint heavily and allow the plant to regrow for a few weeks, but if you are constantly pruning new growth, you will have the best-tasting mint and encourage the plant to grow faster, too.
It’s best to harvest mint leaves during the early hours of the morning. As the dew is evaporating from the leaves, the flavor and natural oils reach their peak.
If you cut mint at this time, it will be at its most flavorful, whether you eat it fresh or dry.
Drying and Preserving Mint Leaves
Harvesting mint is easy when you’re using it fresh. All you need to do is remove the individual leaves from the stem, chop them up, and add them to whatever you are cooking.
If you want to preserve mint to use for later on, you’ll need to dry it, which is an entirely different challenge.
Mint that is cut fresh just isn’t good an hour later, or even less. It becomes limp and wilted.
There are two solutions: you can put the stem of the branch of mint into a glass of water, which will keep it crisp and ready for when you want to use it, or you can dry the mint so that you can preserve it for much longer.
To dry mint, you need to hang it in a cool, dry place. Find a piece of twine and tie together the stems of the small branches of mint you harvested from the plant.
When the stems are tied together as a bundle, hang the bunch of sticks so that they are suspended in the air.
Regular airflow will keep the mint from getting moldy or decaying. Make sure that your drying space is out of the way, too. 3 weeks or more is what a batch of mint needs to fully dry.
Read about planting mint and potential companion plants next.
Frequently Asked Questions about Harvesting Mint Leaves
Where Should I Pick My Mint Leaves From?
If you are picking just a few sprigs of mint for a recipe, pick from the top. The smallest and newest leaves are the most flavorful, and picking them encourages the plant to grow even bigger. If you want to harvest a lot of mint from your plant, it’s more efficient to cut branches from the bottom.
Does Mint Regrow After Cutting?
Mint will regrow easily after it is harvested as long as you don’t take more than 2/3 of the overall foliage. If grown outdoors, you should be able to harvest 3 or 4 times in the growing season. If grown indoors, you can grow year-round and harvest eternally as long as the plant remains healthy.
What Can I Do With Mint Stems?
Mint stems are soft and full of flavor. You can cut them up finely and use them in recipes that call for chopped mint. They can be blended into soups or salad dressings, chopped up and used in salads, infused into oil, or even grilled.
Harvesting Mint Leaves
It’s very easy to harvest mint, especially if you only need a little bit and you intend to use it immediately. You can pinch off a few leaves with your fingernails.
The smallest leaves at the top have the most flavor.
If you want to harvest a larger quantity and preserve it, you can cut it carefully to ensure that the plant can regrow healthily.
Mint will continue to regrow indefinitely indoors, or at least 2-3 harvests per growing season outdoors.
You can preserve mint by drying it somewhere cool and dry for several weeks or freezing the cuttings. Frozen mint can last for months and dried mint will be flavorful for up to 3 years.
Harvesting your mint is easy, and you can keep doing it indefinitely as long as you take care of the plant and don’t harvest too much at one time, or bend and break stems.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.