When life gives you mint, dry it. And store it. Because you can use dried mint in so many ways in the kitchen and stocking up on it to last through a long time is always a good idea. Dried mint is one of my most important pantry staples and I often use it in Azerbaijani and Turkish dishes.
The crisp, fragrant leaves can be sprinkled on soups and salads, mixed with meat to make meatballs, added to dolma fillings, or tossed into a teapot with other herbs or black tea leaves for a fragrant hot drink. Besides having an uplifting scent and refreshing flavor, dried mint also boasts a wealth of medicinal benefits. All the right things to have it on hand.
Lately, life has been giving me a lot of mint. About a week ago, I received a few bunches as a gift from Melissa’s Produce at a book luncheon. Then, a few days later, a friend of mine stopped by with a surprise bag filled with fresh and oh-so-aromatic peppermint she picked from her front yard. Also, just about the same time, my small but fast-burgeoning mint garden gave me a sizable crop that I had to appreciate.
My kitchen was brimming with mint! But I had no complaints. I could always dry that overabundance of mint, which is exactly what I did. Now I have a cute little jar with home-dried mint sitting pretty on my pantry shelf, with scented threads of the herb waiting for their turn to jazz up flavors in many savory dishes.
Drying mint is super easy. There are various methods you can use: oven-dry mint at a very low temperature, hang upside down in bundles until crisp, or do what I usually do— just let the leaves dry spread onto kitchen towels or papers. This is how it is typically done in Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Give it a try when life gives you mint, too. I can’t wait for you to use your own home-dried herb in the kitchen. Here are some mint-requiring AZ Cookbook recipes for inspiration. Enjoy!
Rice Stuffed Mini Sweet Peppers
Eggplant Salad with Yogurt and Mint
Roasted Zucchini Salad with Garlicky Yogurt
Bulgur Croquettes with Walnut-Tomato Sauce
Turkish Yogurt Soup
Creamy Yogurt Soup
Dumpling Soup (Dushbere)
Azerbaijani Meatball Soup, or Kufte-Bozbash
Dried Bean Stew
- Any amount of fresh mint, such as peppermint or spearmint (the more the better, as the leaves shrink while drying)
- If you are cutting mint from your garden, cut it about ⅓ down the stem (this will allow for the remaining plant to grow back. Do not pull out the plant from the ground completely!). Shake your cut mint to get rid of any insects that may be hiding in between the leaves or on the stalks.
- For both for garden mint and store-bought mint: Wash the herbs in a bowl under cold running water to remove any dirt, dust, and insects. To make sure the mint is free of any foreign material, pour the water in the bowl often as you wash the mint, until the water is clean.
- Drain and shake off the moisture from the mint. Spread in a single layer on paper towels, to dry at room temperature, a few hours.
- When completely dry, strip the leaves off their stalks (hold the sprigs at their tops and slide your fingers down to strip off the leaves). Your goal is to remove the main, hard stalks. Any tiny, tender stalks towards the top of the plant are fine to leave as is. (You can either discard the stalks or dry separately to add a few to your teapot to brew with tea leaves.)
- Spread the leaves in a single layer on paper towels and allow to dry at room temperature, 3 to 5 days, or until they are completely dry and crisp (do not place outside under direct sunlight - the leaves will darken before they get a chance to dry).
- Store in an airtight glass jar, away from direct sunlight. You can either leave the leaves whole or crumble them. Note that the leaves will keep their aroma longer when kept as is. You can crush the mint right before you add it to a dish. Simply rub the leaves with your hands until fine, discarding any hard stalks you may find (tiny ones are OK to keep).