How to properly dry mint to preserve nutrients?
Summer ends quickly and only preparations will help in winter to use the healing properties of a home pharmacy garden. There are several ways to dry mint and other aromatic herbs to preserve essential oils. The main condition is the timely collection of plants and adherence to the recommendations of specialists..
Terms of harvesting mint for the winter
The term for harvesting raw materials is the stage when it has reached marketable ripeness. This means that the harvesting of green mass should be carried out at the moment when there is the highest concentration of nutrients. When to harvest mint to dry for the winter? The time for collecting medicinal raw materials is the flowering period. It is at this moment that the plant is filled with life-giving power. Mint grows on one plantation for up to five years, with the highest yield in the second, third year.
For mint, the period of harvesting leaves and stems occurs in June, July, depending on the region. If you cut the tops of the plants by a third for the first time, then at the end of July the second crop will grow. Cleaning should be done in the first half of the day, before the onset of heat, in order to retain as much of the essential oils as possible. No more than two hours should elapse between the time of cutting the plant and the beginning of drying. Later, the leaves will already lose their bright green color, and the dried mass will be grayish.
In the old days in Russia, mint was an obligatory attribute of a bath. Commoners and Tsar Peter I himself steamed with a birch broom with mint steam in the black bath. After the bath, they drank “jellied meat”, an infusion of mint.
The harvested mint crop will be healing if the rules are followed:
- the plant was not treated with pesticides during the growth period;
- a busy road runs no closer than 200 meters from the place of collecting plants;
- leaves are collected not earlier than the beginning of flowering of the bush;
- branches with leaves are cut off when the plantation is in full bloom;
- cleaning is carried out in the morning in dry weather.
How to dry mint for the winter at home?
Drying is preservation, a way to remove moisture. This stops biochemical processes. Microbes and mold do not develop in dry material, they are active only in a humid environment. To preserve the aroma of herbs, you need to dry them correctly:
- without access to sunlight;
- in a ventilated darkened room with an air temperature of up to 30 0;
- the stem bundle is suspended with a broom;
- the leaves are laid out in a thin layer and periodically turned up.
There are several ways to dry mint at home. The old classic method involved hanging bundles on ropes in a ventilated attic room. In good weather, these bundles dry naturally in a week. In this case, all the aromatic substances are transferred during drying to the leaf blades. A plant is considered dry if the leaves break off easily, separating from the stem. This is exactly what needs to be done after the end of drying..
If only leaves are collected, then they need to be dried in a dark place and faster. Ideal if drying is finished in two days. Use a fan to remove moisture faster..
In order to dry the collection at home, you can use a special dryer for vegetables and fruits. The device has different heating modes, you must use the weakest one. In addition, the layer of leaves must be thin for faster drying..
For a long time, plants in rural houses have been dried over a Russian stove. Warm dry air ideally dries brooms of medicinal charges. The only thing that will prevent you from getting bright green will be the lack of darkening. In this case, the beams are covered from daylight with paper caps..
How to dry mint for the winter if there is a prolonged bad weather outside? You can use a microwave oven. In this case, the leaves are laid out in one layer, the stove is switched on periodically for 10 seconds. In total, the leaves will dry out in 15-45 seconds. Properly dried mint stays green.
If the mint is dried in the oven, then you need to heat it up to the minimum temperature and turn on the ventilation mode. Overheating the green mass will change not only the color, but destroy the aroma. When the leaves dry, they begin to warp, the edges rise. In order not to overdry the material, you need to check the moisture content of the leaves more often. Optimal if it takes about 20 minutes to dry..
You can use a household dehydrator for drying at the lowest temperature setting. Do not fill all trays at the same time to ensure quick drying. Leaves in a dehydrator must be dried within five minutes.
The leaves are removed in a glass container with a ground cork, in this form they retain their aroma for up to two years. You can store the crop in bunches in paper bags, tightly tied canvas bags. How to store mint depends on the number of blanks. If different herbs are prepared, then glassware will be the best storage option. But you can make a collection of several herbs, which will be vitamin tea. Dry mint for tea as usual, later mixing with others – thyme, oregano, fireweed.
Storing the mint in a cool, dry, dark place will allow the plant to be used for a long time as a fragrant seasoning or for medicinal purposes. At first, it is necessary to check the moisture content of the product, if necessary, dry it.
Harvesting mint in agricultural enterprises
In large areas, mint is harvested using special devices that mow the tops of the plants and collect them in containers. In the future, the loose mass is placed in special cabinets with blowing, in cyclone dryers or dehydrated in vacuum devices. After that, the raw material is crushed and sent for further processing. Part of the mass is used in medicinal preparations or packaged in pure form. A larger amount is directed to the production of dosage forms.