Mint is in the mint family Lamiaceae, including other herbs such as basil, oregano, and thyme.
The most popular mint is peppermint, but other types include apple mint, orange mint, chocolate mint, and pineapple mint.
Mint grows best in warm areas with high humidity.
Underground rhizomes spread mints, and many gardeners remove them to keep them from spreading.
However, this also prevents the plant from returning year after year.
Mint is best when used fresh but can be preserved by drying or freezing.
You can freeze mint leaves whole, or you can chop them first, then spread them on a tray and place them in the freezer.
Frozen mint can be used to flavor tea, punch, and desserts such as ice cream.
In this article, we will guide you on how to freeze whole mint leaves.
What’s the Difference Between Mint and Peppermint?
Mint can be differentiated from peppermint based on their scents, taste, and appearance – as well as in how they grow.
While both have a strong aroma and flavor from essential oils, peppermint has a milder version of it than mint.
If you want to experience the strength of peppermint, you should try eating a sprig of it right after chewing fresh mint leaves.
Its appearance can also differentiate it because peppermint has pointed leaves with purple stems while mint has oval or round-shaped leaves with green stems.
Another way to tell them apart is when you examine their roots and flowers.
For example, peppermint has purple flowers and brown roots, while mint has bright green leaves with white petals.
Lastly, you can also differentiate them by their growth patterns.
Peppermint is a hardy perennial that grows wild in countries like the United States and Italy, whereas mint is an annual that’s easily cultivated in your garden or pots.
Tips on Choosing Mint
Mint is an herb with a fresh, sweet aroma.
The most popular form of mint is peppermint; other forms include spearmint, apple mint, orange mint, and chocolate mint.
Mint is best used fresh but can be frozen or dried for later use.
Quickly pinch the mint of the stem to harvest from it.
For a larger harvest, cut the whole plant just before it fully blooms and discards lower leaves.
This promotes healthy growth and makes for a more intense taste.
When purchasing the fresh leaves, look for light green leaves with no signs of wilting or browning.
The leaves should be free from blemishes and white powdery mildew.
Those are signs that the plant is old.
It’s best to purchase mint during the cool season when it is more flavorful.
It’s important to store mint in the refrigerator and keep it away from strong odors so its flavor will last longer.
Does Freezing Affect Mint and Mint Leaves?
Mint is a plant that can be frozen, but the taste and smell will diminish over time.
If you choose to freeze fresh mint instead of using it right away (which is best), you should chop up the leaves first before freezing it, since putting whole leaves in the freezer can cause them to stick together and be difficult to remove.
That being said, freezing is a great way to preserve it for later use.
Freezing mint in ice cube trays is an easy way to add the flavor of mint when cooking and creates a wonderful-looking addition to chilled beverages.
Freezing Mint vs Drying Mint
Drying mint can preserve mint leaves for up to one year.
However, the process requires a low temperature between 120 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit and very low humidity – preferably 70 percent or less.
Drying should not be done in an oven because a higher temperature will destroy essential oils in fresh mint leaves.
Drying is best done on screens using dehydrator trays or hanging mint leaves on clean, non-rusting wires in a warm room.
This method requires the frequent turning of the green leaves so both sides will dry evenly.
Freezing mint is another popular way to preserve its taste and smell for later use.
The freshness and flavor of frozen mint can last up to eight months when kept at a temperature of 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
While freezing is effective, the taste and smell of mint will suffer some change after being frozen for a long time in this manner.
How to Freeze Mint?
Before freezing your mint leaves, wash them thoroughly.
You can use a soft brush or rub them under running water to remove dirt particles and insects—Pat dry using paper towels or a clean kitchen towel before placing them in a container for storage.
You can freeze the mint leaves whole by spreading them on a baking sheet before placing them in the freezer.
Once frozen, transfer it to an airtight container and then put it back in the freezer.
It’s best not to chop or blend the mint with other ingredients when freezing for later use.
When you’re ready to cook, just take out what you need from the container.
Mints can also be put into ice cube trays for individual portions.
Once frozen, transfer the mint cubes to an airtight container and place them back in the freezer.
When cooking or preparing desserts, use your desired amount of mint and add it to a chilled beverage or food.
How to Thaw Frozen Mint?
It’s best to thaw frozen mint in the refrigerator, but you can also use cold water if you’re in a hurry.
If you decide to thaw it at room temperature, place it in a covered container because this will keep the aroma and flavor of mint from escaping.
If using cold water, place the container with frozen mint in a bowl of cold water and change the water every 15 minutes until it’s completely thawed.
It may take 3 to 4 hours to completely thaw frozen mint leaves, depending on their volume.
So, it’s best to prepare them overnight, unless you’re really in a hurry.
How to Use Thawed Mint in Recipes?
You can use the flavor of mint in a variety of recipes.
Here are some popular ways to add it in:
Add refreshing flavors of mint to beverages like iced tea, lemonade, and punch by using crushed or sliced leaves.
You may also use whole leaves when making fresh raspberry and strawberry drinks – just add them at the last minute to avoid dilution.
Grind fresh mint leaves with sugar and a bit of lime juice before spreading them on cookies or cakes.
Mixing it in oatmeal, chai tea, smoothies, and yogurt is effective when creating refreshing desserts.
Don’t throw away black pepper once you remove the seeds from them – add them to a container of fresh mint leaves and store them in the freezer.
Afterward, use the mixture as needed for added flavor.
Mix chopped mint with bacon or chives before using it in potato salad, pasta salads, and vegetarian dishes.
You may also add it to hot appetizers like cheese stuffed peppers and pizza for extra flavoring.
How to Tell if Frozen Mint is Bad?
It’s important to note that frozen mint will not stay fresh forever – especially if it isn’t stored properly.
Other than monitoring the container regularly, here are some “tells” for spoiled mint:
Slight color changes – It may become slightly darker or lighter than when you first place it inside the freezer.
You may also notice it changing color when you take it out for preparation.
Changes in taste and smell – Spoiled mint will also have a different taste and scent than originally frozen.
In addition, the leaves may be slimy or soft to touch.
Mold growth – You should immediately throw away moldy greens like mint because they can cause serious infections if consumed.
Spoiled leaves – You should also throw away mint leaves once they start to wilt and dry out.
They may also be dark brown or yellowish compared to the bright green shade you know it as.
When this happens, there’s a high chance it already developed bacteria inside, making it unsafe for consumption.
In conclusion, mint is one of the most refreshing herbs that you should have around.
It can add flavor to a variety of recipes as well as beverages and desserts.
To keep it fresh, you can freeze it using the tips above.
Follow these steps, and you’ll end up with tasty mint that will last for as long as possible.
So enjoy the refreshing taste of mint anytime you want.