Most herbs can be kept fresh in the fridge for a few days, or even stored in the freezer to preserve for a much longer period. But, can you freeze mint leaves? What is the best way to store mint when you have an excess of it from harvesting or grocery store?
To store mint in the fridge, trim the old ends to ease water absorption, then dip them in a jar filled with 1-inch water. Cover loosely with a plastic bag and put it in the refrigerator. Change the water every 2 days to keep your mint fresh for longer.
Mint is a herb that is widely used to add flavor in both dishes and beverages. To retain its freshness, you need to know the best ways to store it to last longer. Below, I’ve explained refrigeration and freezing to help you preserve this herb the right way.
First, the big question…
Can you freeze mint leaves?
You can freeze mint leaves to preserve them for at least 3 months. You may choose to chop and store the leaves in ice-cube trays or even freeze them on the stem placed in airtight containers – just like preserving other herbs.
Keep in mind that the longer you keep mint leaves frozen, the more the texture is likely to change.
I prefer chopping the leaves first before placing them in the fridge. Even this way, I find the flavor retains when stored for less than 3 months. While the leaves can remain fresh for up to 12 months in the freezer compartment, the flavor doesn’t remain as strong.
Jump to the exact procedure I recommend for freezing mint leaves here.
Best ways to store mint
For starters, mint will keep fresh best in the fridge if kept well moisturized. For long term storage freezing is ideal to keep it fresh for up to 12 months.
Pro tip: You need to handle mint with care since the leaves are gentle and tend to bruise easily. Therefore, when storing mint in the fridge, use a bag with enough space to avoid crashing the leaves.
Always remember that keeping mint well-moisturized is the secret to prolong its shelf life. That means dehydration and excess moisture will lead to decay.
Here are two great ways of keeping mint fresh for long:
1. How to Store Mint in the Fridge
You can store mint in the fridge using a wet paper towel or in a jar of water. Always make sure your mint leaves are well hydrated by changing the paper towel and the water in the jar frequently. Refrigerated mint will stay fresh for 7-10 days if well stored.
Refrigerating using a Jar of water
- Cut off the old ends to expose fresh ones. This enables the stem to absorb water easily keeping the leaves fresh.
- Dip the stems of the mint in a jar with one-inch of water. Ensure that the leaves don’t get submerged in water as it can easily cause mold growth.
- Cover loosely with a plastic bag to protect the leaves.
- Put the jar in the fridge
Ensure to change the water after every 2 days to keep your mint fresh for longer.
How to keep mint leaves fresh in the refrigerator
- Remove the mint leaves from the stem
- Lay them on a wet paper towel and gently wrap them loosely to prevent bruising.
- Put the wrapped mint leaves in a plastic bag and seal
- Put them in the refrigerator
Always check the paper towel and change it if it starts to dry.
After a few days of storing in the crisper drawer, your mint can still go into your vegetable juicer and make a great-tasting herbal juice.
2. How to Freeze Mint Leaves
You can freeze mint leaves while chopped or whole to prolong the shelf life while still retaining the flavor. Freezing mint leaves is easy since no blanching is required.
In case you chopped more mint leaves than you intended to use, you can always freeze them in cubes using the ice cube tray.
Fresh mint leaves will last in the freezer for 3-12 months if well stored using the following methods:
Here’s how to freeze chopped mint leaves:
- Remove mint leaves from the stem
- Wash the mint leaves
- Chop them using a sharp knife. Avoid blunt knife as it will only bruise the leaves leading to loss of flavor.
- Carefully put the chopped leaves in the ice cube tray.
- Fill each compartment with little water and freeze for 1-2 hours
- Transfer the frozen cubes in a freezer bag and seal making sure to remove any air inside
- put the freezer bag in the freezer.
To get the fresh flavor from frozen mint cubes, place the cubes you intend to use in a sieve leaving them to melt on their own and use in soups, sauces, and tea.
How to freeze whole mint leaves
- Carefully remove the mint leaves from the stem individually making sure not to tear or bruise them.
- Wash and pat them dry.
- Spread one layer of mint leaves on a baking tray making sure not to overlap them.
- Put the baking tray in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
- Transfer the frozen mint leaves in a freezer bag and seal making sure to remove any air inside.
- Put the freezer bag in the freezer.
How to choose fresh mint
When shopping for mint avoid those with brown sports as that is a sign of wilting and choose mint with the following traits:
- Soft and gentle leaves
- Perky leaves
- Brightly green colored leaves
- Pungent scent
How to know when mint is going bad
It is easy to know when it is time to get rid of your mint by just looking, touching and smelling it. Mint leaves will have the following traits when going bad.
- Leaves turn brown
- Leaves become slimy and mushy
- Mold starts to appear
- It becomes smelly
Get rid of mint leaves with the above traits since they are no longer fit for consumption.