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Cultural and wild types of mint are actively used in cooking, folk and traditional medicine. This fragrant plant, rich in essential oils and has long been famous for its medicinal properties, can now be seen in the garden plots and gardens.
But if in summer, tearing off a few odorous twigs, it's so easy to prepare a useful tea or a decoction, Use fresh foliage in a soft drink or pastry, then in winter all mint is under snow. How to keep mint fresh for the winter? Are there methods that allow you to use the medicinal properties of the plant before the spring and enjoy its aroma?
If a couple of decades ago Russian housewives, from the habit of mint only sushi, today thanks to the development of technology and the influence of culinary traditions of other countries, the opportunities have significantly increased. But before preparing mint for the winter, it must be collected and prepared for processing.
Harvesting mint for the winter
The best season when you should prepare mint for the winter is July and August. In most regions of the country mint at this time is going to bloom or is already crowned with pinkish or pale lilac inflorescences. In the foliage, the tops of shoots and flowers, during this period, the greatest amount of essential oil and other active substances accumulates, for which culture is so valued.
The best raw materials can be obtained:
- from plants 2-3 years;
- in the morning or evening hours, when the plants do not have dew;
- in dry, cool weather.
Cutting is carried out for 1/3 of the length of the stem, since its hard part is not suitable for winter storage, but until the end of the season can still give a new shoot.
Collected greens before shipment for storage in the refrigerator or before drying the mint,freeze, carefully sorted, removing dry, damaged parts of the plant and impurities, wash and necessarily dried. If you want to keep the mint in the fresh form for the winter, the prepared greens in bundles are put in a container with with a small amount of water, they are covered from above with a film or a plastic transparent bag and transferred to a fridge.
Mint shoots or stems separated from the stems can be wrapped in paper napkins and laid in closed bags or containers.
In this form, "bunches" of mint and green leaves keep freshness and pristine appearance until 4 weeks, but then nature takes its toll. The greens lose color and elasticity, moisture and useful substances evaporate.
How to store mint, if it is impossible to save plants for a long time in the refrigerator? You can use one of the oldest methods - to dry the mint, which in this form will preserve both aroma and valuable oils.
How to dry mint at home?
Drying mint does not require serious labor or complex preparations. Prepared, clean, without traces of moisture mint:
- understands small beams;
- the tips of the shoots drop into large paper bags;
- is bandaged and hung out in a dry, ventilated place without access to sunlight.
With this method of drying, the grass is not exposed to ultraviolet radiation and heat radiation, wind and dust, besides it is inaccessible to insects.
If desired, the bundles include other spicy-flavored herbs, for example, oregano, St. John's wort, thyme or sage. Such sets will not only help to diversify the winter tea drinking, but will also become an excellent healing remedy.
If mint is dried on pallets, plant raw materials are spread thinly and also provide protection from the sun, draft, insects or contaminants. In this case, to make the process go more evenly and quickly, the grass will have to be tedious from time to time.
Features of drying and storage of green mint
Mulberry greens, like other spicy herbs, can be dried in modern electric dryers, however, in this case, it is important to remember some features of spicy grass. How to dry the mint, so that it retains as much as possible essential oils, vitamins and medicinal substances? First of all, do not expose raw materials to the action of elevated temperatures. The optimum temperature regime for drying spicy herbs is 20-35 ° C. Therefore, in the electric dryer is used the most gentle mode, and in the oven mint leaves are not recommended for winter.
Delicate greens lose moisture quickly, so the drying process is very intense. Do not overexpose peppermint inside the electric dryer, as this will lead to excessive brittleness of the leaves and loss of some useful properties.
If in the room where the bunches of mint are hung, it is wet, the grass needs to be transferred to another place as soon as possible, otherwise the mold will settle on the stems and leaves and make the raw material unfit for consumption.
Overdried or high temperature mint is easy to recognize by the brown color of the leaves. This herb is practically odorless and useless for health.
How to store mint in dried form?
At room temperature, drying takes several days. Determine the readiness of dried mint can be, pressing on the leaf plate, if it is easy, with rustling Separates from the stem and crumbles, drying can be completed, grind raw materials and pack for a long storage.
Do not forget how to properly store mint after drying. Chopped herbs, although it takes up less space, but quickly loses its flavor and aroma, so it's not wise to turn dry grass into powder, and when grinding, use not a coffee mill, but gentle manual methods.
The best storage containers are glass clean, dry jars with a tightly ground lid, which does not allow to penetrate inside neither moisture, nor pests, nor foreign smells. In a dry, cool place, spicy herbs preserve their aromas and taste until 6-8 months.
How to freeze mint for the winter?
With the appearance in the houses of powerful modern freezing chambers, the housewives had another opportunity, how to prepare mint for the winter. Under the influence of low temperatures, the plant seems to be preserved, all processes stop there. As a result, mint retains color, aromatic and taste properties. Frozen mint for the winter can be both bundles and hotel leaves, packing washed and dried raw materials in food film, bags, foil or plastic containers.
Lovers of fragrant refreshing drinks can use mint leaves to make portioned ice cubes. Grinded grass or individual whole leaves are placed in molds and a bay with boiled water, they are sent to a freezer.
For medicinal tea, which is extremely useful for winter colds, it is possible to freeze a slice of ginger or a little lemon zest along with mint.
After solidification, the cubes are conveniently stored in closed packets, preventing melting and re-freezing.
Aromatic sugar from fresh mint
Another way to keep mint for the winter fresh, like all lovers of sweet. Aromatic sugar based on selected mint green is suitable for cooking a wide variety of culinary dishes, it can be added to pastries, drinks, fruit salads and desserts. At the same time sweetness takes over all useful properties of the plant, and mint remains fresh for the winter.
For 200 grams of crushed green mint, take the same amount of sugar. The ingredients are thoroughly ground and blended into a blender until uniform, and then spread over dry clean jars, sealing the sugar at the same time.
Sugar with mint greenery in the refrigerator is stored for a long time, and to make the food acquire a real fragrance of this fragrant plant, add it is already in the ready dish.
Mint green syrup
One and a half cup chopped greens of mint from your garden you will need a glass of sugar and the same amount of water. Half of the sugar is covered with mint leaves and left for several hours, so that the grass gives juice, and the sugar begins to dissolve. From the remaining sugar and water make a syrup, checking its readiness after boiling, drop by drop on a saucer. If the drop does not spread, the sugar syrup is ready, and they can pour mint.
To keep all the properties of the plant, the syrup should not be kept on the fire for too long. Immediately after boiling, the pan is removed, the syrup is cooled and, after wiping through a sieve, is poured into sterilized dry bottles or jars.
How to store mint syrup? Vitamin and a very fragrant syrup is perfectly stored for up to two months if clogged cans are taken away in a refrigerator or cellar.