How Do You Harvest And Preserve Fresh Mint? (Explained)

Mastering the crucial art of how to harvest and preserve fresh mint guarantees you a constant supply of this great herb. In this post, we’ll guide you through the proper techniques for harvesting and storing mint leaves to enjoy later.

These secrets are a must-know for every enthusiast so let’s unlock them!

Mint is refreshing, has a great aroma, and is incredibly popular across the globe. Mint is added to sauces, desserts, cocktails, curries, and mint tea. It is used for more than just cooking. The benefits of using mint extend to beauty products, toothpaste, mouthwash, and chewing gums.

With over 30 mint varieties on all continents, common ones include spearmint and peppermint, renowned in the culinary world. Mint can be enjoyed fresh, dried, powdered, or even frozen.

If you’re fond of the cool minty flavor, you can elevate your love for mint by growing it in your garden. Growing mint is simple, but remember it can spread aggressively, which is why many gardeners prefer containers. By potting mint and preventing runners from spreading, you’ll be ready to harvest and preserve fresh mint like a pro!

How you pick your mint plays a vital role in the plant’s health and growth. This makes it essential to learn the best practices for growing mint in both the ground and containers. Plus, understanding how to store mint properly is crucial.

How many times can you harvest mint?

Mint proves itself as a hardy herb, generously allowing several harvests during its growing season. Just remember not to gather more than a third of the plant during one harvest. This practice of regular harvesting can even inspire the plant to thrive more robustly, ensuring a consistent supply of this remarkable herb.

Read further to discover the ideal time to harvest mint leaves.

The Right Time to Harvest Mint Leaves

The prime moment to harvest mint leaves is just before they flower, which is usually midway through the growing season. However, once your plants reach around 4 inches in height, you can start picking individual leaves.

For immediate use, pluck green leaves whenever needed. If you’re looking to gather a larger quantity, you can harvest your mint plant three to four times during the growing season. The plant usually produces new leaves within a few weeks. Maintain the soil’s moisture to aid quick recovery.

Gardeners growing mint outdoors might consider overwintering their plants indoors to shield them from frost damage. Even if frost harms the plant, it typically regrows in the spring. Indoor mint cultivation can ensure year-round growth.

Harvesting mint is best done in the morning when dew is evaporating from the leaves. During this time, the essential oils in the leaves are most concentrated, resulting in intense aroma and flavor.

Another crucial aspect is the lifespan of the plant. Regular harvesting prevents the plant from going to seed and encourages more leaf production. However, if your plant is starting to flower, harvesting before the flowers bloom yields the best flavor. Flowers can introduce a slightly bitter taste.

How do you harvest Fresh Mint?

Harvesting mint is easy and enjoyable. Sometimes it is as simple as holding a stem with one hand and using the other hand to pluck the leaves, moving your fingers gently along the stem.

Say you need a few leaves for a recipe or tea, simply pluck them off the stems.

If you want to harvest lots of leaves or maybe use them for cooking, try using pruning shears or sharp scissors to cut stems and leaves. Felco 321 Harvesting Snips or Felco 322 Long Reach Harvesting Snips work well too.

Remove leaves from the stems for immediate use or bundle stem ends for drying.

For extensive harvests, wait until just before flowering for the most intense flavor.

Before harvesting, remove any yellowed leaves, then cut each stem above the first or second set of lower leaves. This ensures the plant can keep producing chlorophyll for its own needs as it recuperates.

Young leaves pack more flavor compared to older, larger ones. Begin by picking the smaller top leaves. This not only offers tastier leaves but also stimulates new growth. Regular pruning leads to bushier mint plants with more flavorful foliage.

How do you pick mint to keep it growing?

how to harvest fresh mints 2

To encourage your mint plant to keep growing, it’s important to pick the leaves strategically. Choose larger, mature leaves first, and leave the smaller ones and the top growth untouched. This way, the plant can continue to photosynthesize and thrive. Aim to harvest no more than one-third of the plant’s leaves at a time.

Avoid taking more than two-thirds of a single plant to prevent over-harvesting, which could shock the plant, especially during its initial harvest season.

Remember, always use clean, sharp tools like pruning snips for harvesting. A clean cut helps the mint stay healthy and avoids the risk of disease.

Do you wash mint leaves before storing?

Yes, it’s a good idea to wash mint leaves before storing them. Even if you plan to use them immediately, a quick rinse under cold water helps remove any dirt or insects that might be present.

After washing, make sure to dry the leaves thoroughly before storing or using them.

How long do mint leaves last after picking?

One thing you should know about how to harvest and preserve fresh mint is that freshly picked mint leaves can last for about a week when stored properly. If you’ve frozen or dried the leaves, their flavor can be preserved for several months. Keep in mind that as time goes on, the flavor of dried mint may become slightly milder, so adjust your recipes accordingly.

Newly harvested mint thrives in cooler temperatures, making the refrigerator the ideal storage spot. Gently wrap harvested mint leaves in a damp paper towel and place them in a perforated plastic bag. This method keeps the mint fresh for 7 to 10 days.

Alternatively, place fresh stems in a glass or jar with 1 to 1.5 inches of water. Cover the top with a loosely draped plastic bag to create a mini greenhouse, preserving humidity. Change the water daily with fresh water to extend the mint’s lifespan to 10 to 14 days.

Freezing Mint for Future Use

For an alternative to dried mint, freezing is an option. Harvest mint from your garden and prepare it for freezing. Two effective methods exist:

  1. Roughly chop leaves into smaller pieces and pack them into ice cube trays. Add a bit of water to bind the leaves, then freeze. Once solid, transfer mint ice cubes to a freezer bag. These cubes can be used in iced tea, recipes, and more, lasting at least three months.
  2. Place whole mint leaves on a parchment-lined baking sheet without overlapping. Freeze for 2-3 hours until leaves are solid, then store them in a freezer bag. This approach suits various mints, from peppermint to spearmint, for future use in cocktails or salads.

Drying Mint Properly

Dried mint can’t match the aroma and flavor of fresh mint, but it’s an excellent storage option. As I mentioned earlier, as you harvest and preserve fresh mint remember to wash stems with cold water before drying, but avoid using heat to lock in maximum flavor. Air-only dehydrators, box fans, or hang-drying are suitable methods.

Suspend a bunch of mint stems upside down in a dark, well-ventilated area. Shield the leaves with a brown paper bag, allowing them to dry. Drying takes about 1 to 2 weeks until the green leaves crumble. Once dried, remove the leaves from the stems.

After drying, it’s smart to cure the mint. Store it in a glass container like a mason jar. Daily, open the jar to mix the leaves and balance moisture, reducing mold risk. You can also add a moisture-absorbing packet to remove any excess moisture.

Properly dried mint maintains fragrance and flavor for 1 to 3 years. For the best flavor, try to use mint within the first year. Sharing herbs with friends is also an option!


In conclusion, harvesting and preserving fresh mint is a rewarding endeavor that allows you to enjoy its delightful flavor long after the growing season ends. By picking the leaves carefully, using proper storage methods, and respecting the plant’s growth pattern, you can make the most of your mint harvest.

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