Growing Mint: Harvest, Storage and Uses

The smell, texture and taste of mint brings me back to childhood.

At my grandparent’s home, where I lived for the first 11 years of my life, my grandmother grew two edible crops – tomatoes and mint. I don’t remember much of her tomato growing, mostly because the plants never seemed to produce much fruit. But as for the mint, I fondly remember running out around the kitchen island and out the Dutch door to pick some fresh and fragrant mint leaves to toss into pitchers of iced tea. And I can still remember stooping in that clumsy child way and plucking a mint leaf from the growing plant just to sniff.

It’s funny how a smell, a sight or a sound can bring you back. The thought of mint floods my mind with images of childhood – of the home my grandparents made, the land where I played, and of my grandparents themselves. I can smell the scent that wafted around when my grandmother took her garlic pills (apparently it was some health craze) and I can feel the textured linoleum floor in the kitchen and feel the smooth countertops. And I can hear and feel the sensation when you’d open and close the built in bread box. It’s all right there, as if it was yesterday, not years ago. It’s hard to believe that is a place where I can’t go back to and where I will likely never be again.

I wonder if the mint is still growing there, in the small garden area in the rear of the property. I wonder if the family who resides there now has a daughter or granddaughter who exuberantly picks the mint leaves.

Here’s some information I’ve compiled regarding growing mint:

GROWING: In case you didn’t know this, mint is an invasive species so you’ve got to be cautious when growing it. For best results – and to save your other plants – either growing mint in a container or a well contained plot is your best bet. Mint needs sun for at least 6 hours per day for proper growing (partial shade is okay).

The soil should be moist, but not soaked.

HARVEST/STORAGE: Mint leaves can be harvested at any time. They can be dried for storage by laying out on paper towels for a few days or just frozen fresh.

USES: Mint leaves can add a nice zing to iced tea or be used to make fresh tea. They are also used for a variety of alcoholic drinks (Mint Juleps, anyone?) and desserts. One of the most interesting recipes I have come upon was for English Roast Beef on Allrecipes.com.

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