Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Frugal Creative: How to Make Mint Tea, Dry Mint on a Window Screen

What plant tolerates drought, loves water, is generally deer and rabbit proof, and grows most places without much effort, AND you can eat it? Mint! And, even better, mint plants are available in varieties including chocolate mint, peppermint and spearmint (among the 2 dozen or so varieties of mint, many of which are available as seed or plants in most plant nurseries). Save money and ask a gardener for a few stalks and you can grow mint from a cutting by rooting it in water for a few weeks.

For the frugal creative person with a lavish streak, making your own tea and better yet, giving it away as gifts will save you . . . a mint! (Sorry, couldn't resist the pun!)

So grow some mint and you'll soon have an abundant harvest that will make you feel lavish. Make tea, mix the mint into food or scent a bathtub. Mint is easy to dry. Though I do have a food dehydrator, I live in a dry climate so I usually dry the mint outside. Here are some photos from my garden that will show you what to expect when drying mint.

Here's how to dry mint at home using window screens:
  • Hose the mint down (while it's in the ground) to be sure it's clean. Let it dry.
  • Clip the plant stalks at the bottom -- a few inches from the ground.
  • Spread the stalks across a clean window screen propped across 2 chairs.
  • Turn the mint during the day.
  • Don't let the mint get rained on or otherwise wet.
  • When dry, run your hand down the stalk from the tip to remove dry leaves. Discard stems.
  • Save the leaves on a platter and let them dry again for at least the day. Put mint leaves in baggies or glass jars and store in a dark, cool cupboard.
Dry mint will be crackly and easily crush to powder under your fingers.

Uses for fresh or dried mint: The strength of flavor varies between varieties, so I did not include amounts. Taste as you add mint to your food.
  • Tea, potatoes, lamb, carrots, yogurt, ice cream, chocolate, oranges and other citrus fruits, salsa, vegetables.
  • If you love the flavor of fresh mint during the off-season, chop it and freeze it into ice cubes. As it thaws it will subtly flavor the beverage while looking gorgeous. You can also add the mint ice cubes to vegetable water (great with peas) or soups.
  • Bury a few fresh mint stalks in a couple cups of white sugar for a few days to flavor the sugar. Remove the mint so it won't decay.
Save more money and follow my recipe to make your own bath scrub using mint. Try this and other recipes on my website.



  1. Great tips - any idea how to get the little bugs off?

  2. There aren't many bugs that I've noticed. Before I cut the mint I hose it down very carefully. Any bugs on the stalks jump off either then or when they are on the screens. Bend, Oregon is considered high desert and is very dry, so maybe the intense summer sun and long days (we're at a higher latitude) keep my mint plants generally pest-free.