How To Harvest Mint (A Simple Guide)

Mint is one of the most popular herbs and is treasured for its culinary, therapeutic, and medicinal benefits. 

It is easy to grow, but knowing how to harvest it can significantly affect the health and growth potential of the plant.

To harvest mint, you can snip off individual branches or cut the entire plant, leaving at least two sets of leaves. This should be done before the plant produces flowers to ensure the best flavor and to encourage regrowth. 

Healthy Mint Plant Ready To Harvest
Mint Plant Growing Vigorously

Nevertheless, if you wish to grow your mint, you should consider growing it in a pot, because it can become invasive and spread through the soil. 

In this article, we will look at the simplest ways to harvest mints, based on your desired quantity. On top of that, you’ll also find information on how to dry and store mint for future use.

How To Harvest Mint

When it comes to mint, there are some things you need to keep in mind when harvesting. 

  • You should only remove up to two-thirds of the plant since this can hinder the plant from recovering.
  • Pick the smaller leaves at the top of the plant because they are younger and carry more flavor. It’ll help encourage new growth as well.
  • You should also prune your mint plant regularly because it helps it to grow tastier, bushier leaves.
  • You must use a sharp, sterile tool to avoid the plant getting diseased.

Your harvesting method will depend on how much you’re trying to get.

How to harvest mint leaves
Harvesting Mint Leaves From Window Planter

For example, if you’re only trying to pick a few leaves off the plant, you can gently pluck each leaf from the stem. Whereas if you want to harvest several leaves, you need to cut the stems and leaves.

Alternatively, you must remove yellow leaves and make sure you pick the leaves before the plant blooms if you wish to do a large harvest.

Then cut each stem at its lower part, leaving 1 to two sets of leaves on the branches. Doing it this way is essential because it will allow the plant to continue processing energy while it recovers.

When Should You Harvest Mint?

Strictly speaking, you can pick mint leaves once the plant is 4 inches tall – but you may want to wait for better results.

Ideally, you should harvest mint at the midpoint of their growing cycle, just before the flowers start to show. 

Young Mint Plant Can Be Pruned To Encourage Bushy Growth

Mint should be harvested in the morning, when the oils are at their best, giving them a more intense flavor and smell.

The leaves on top will be younger and tastier. Across the whole growing season, you can often do 4 harvests because the plant regrows foliage every few weeks.

Always keep the soil of the plant moist because this helps it to grow back quicker. With moist soil, you can harvest more during the growing season.

Storing Fresh Mint Leaves

You will have to prune your mint plants often to keep them healthy. This will inevitably result in your harvesting more leaves than you can use at once.

To store mint for between 7 and 10 days, you can put it in the fridge. To do this, loosely wrap the leaves in a damp paper towel, then put them in a plastic bag that’s been perforated.

If you want to store the mint for up to two weeks, then you can fill a glass with 1 ½  inches of water, then put the mint leaves in it. 

Secure a plastic bag over the glass top, which will keep the humidity high enough. However, you will need to replace the water every day for two weeks.

How To Dry Mint

If you need more than two weeks, you can dry the mint instead, allowing your leaves to last up to 3 years. However, it won’t be as flavorful as the fresh ones. To do this:

  1. Wash the plant stems with cold water, tie them, and then hang them to air dry. 
  2. Once dried, hang them in a dark, ventilated location, with the leaves covered by a paper bag. Drying takes up to 2 weeks. 
  3. Carefully remove the leaves when they can crumble easily, then remove them from the dry stem.
How To Dry Mint Leaves
Dried Mint Leaves

You’ll want to cure your dried leaves too. Please put them in a glass jar and mix them each day until there is no sign of moisture, thereby lessening the risk of mold.

Final Thoughts

Mint is relatively easy to grow, making it a hobby that’s well worth trying. However, one of the most critical parts of the process is the harvesting itself.

Your mint plant’s health and growing capabilities can be affected by the way you harvest it, so you must gather it correctly and carefully.

If you want to use the leaves soon, remove them from the stems. Otherwise, you should dry and store them for future use.

References

Utah State University Extension. Mint In The Garden. extension.usu.edu. Accessed November 2022