Mint is one of those criminally-underrated herbs. The number of home chefs who swear by this unique spice is far too small, which is a real shame. The name itself brings to mind the light and refreshing flavor that this herb has.
Not only is it indispensable when making cocktails, but it also comes in handy whenever you find yourself craving for some incredible salads and desserts. That said, it can never hurt to always have such a versatile ingredient on hand at all times.
If you want to know how to freeze mint, it is quite simple. You can either freeze the mint leaves whole by trimming and wrapping them in wax paper, or freeze fresh trimmed mint into ice cubes that can be thawed and used later. Frozen mint will last for up to six months.
Luckily, this freezing guide has you covered as we will go over the different methods you can use to freeze your mint.
Remember, this is done to extend your herb’s shelf life. So, keep reading and follow are directions closely!
Why Freeze Mint?
Summertime often gives home chefs and amateur gardeners something to cheer about. After all, this is the season when fresh herbs, including mint, are especially abundant.
Of course, it would be impossible to use all of it in the span of a season. That said, proper storage is crucial in times like these.
If you want to go a simpler route, all you need to do is wrap your mint leaves gently in a damp paper towel and put them in a paper bag. Just be careful not to seal too tightly or else you risk creating the conditions for mold because of the trapped moisture.
Alternatively, you can also trim the ends of the mint and place them in a glass filled with water.
However, it is worth remembering freezing is still the best way to go. This is especially true if you are looking to maintain the intensity and freshness of your mint for the longest period of time.
In our experience, freezing is also the most effective method to use if you wish to retain most of the herb’s original color, flavor, and texture.
While there are other methods you can try, such as drying, that can help you do prolong an herb’s longevity, we found that freezing is the most effective when dealing with mint in particular.
The results are simply incomparable.
One of the main reasons for this is the mint’s high moisture levels. Similar herbs include chives cilantro, basil, and dill. Take note that drying mint and herbs like it as it may lead to rot. It can also cause mold to appear.
It is also worth noting that, unlike drying, freezing does not concentrate the flavors of your mint.
This means that you no longer have to adjust your recipe’s ratios as you would when using dried herbs. You can just go ahead and cook as you normally would when using fresh ingredients.
Freezing mint is effective for a simple reason: because the process leaves the herb’s essential oils and flavors intact. This is the secret to why frozen mint can effectively last up to 6 months in the freezer.
How To Freeze Mint
So, before anything else, it is crucial that we state here that the purpose of freezing mint is prolonging your herb’s natural flavors so you can use it later on.
This means that it will do nothing to improve the quality of your herb. It is vital, then, that you always use the healthiest leaves possible for the best results.
Make sure that you are using fresh and top-quality mint leaves. Try to steer clear from damaged, insect-bit, and older leaves. Chances are, their flavors have already been compromised. So, freezing damaged leaves is hardly worth the effort.
Now, before we proceed, you will have to gather the materials and tools that you will be needing. Make sure that you have the following on-hand:
- Ice cube tray
- Baking sheet
- Wax paper
- Freezer-safe food storage bags
- Paper towels or a salad spinner
Remember that there are two methods for freezing mint presented below. Be sure to check them out to see which suits you best.
Method 1: Freezing Whole Mint Leaves
The first method lets you freeze your mint as individual leaves.
While this may take up a little more time and effort initially, it does come in handy later on. This is because whole leaves make it easier for you to measure ratios and proportions while cooking.
This process makes your frozen mint virtually indistinguishable from fresh ones. Here’s how to freeze whole mint leaves:
- Prepare the Mint – So before anything else, you will need to prepare your mint. This is crucial, especially when working with fresh herbs. So, trim the top section of your leaves. Do this for every one of the mint’s stalks. Just be mindful to leave no less than two-thirds of your plant intact. After this, make sure that the mint is properly washed and dried before proceeding.
- Lay them Out – You need to be careful when lining up your mint leaves on your baking sheet. Not only do they need to lay as flat as possible, but you also need to ensure that the leaves do not overlap. Remember, overlapping leaves will be hard to separate once frozen and will become a major problem.
- Cover Properly – Once your mint leaves have been laid out on the tray, you will need to ensure that they are properly covered. We recommend using Plastic Wrap or Wax Paper. Make sure that the entirety of your leaves is covered. The point is to keep them from falling off the tray. You also don’t want any extra moisture or dirt to get in there.
- Freeze the Mint – Leave the mint leaves in your freezer overnight for optimal results.
- Pack them into Freezer Safe Bags – Check to see if the mint leaves are properly frozen. If the mint leaves are frozen solid, you can proceed to transfer them. Remove the leaves from your tray and place them into the freezer-safe food storage bags. Make sure to label each bag before putting them back into your freezer.
You won’t have to worry about the mint leaves sticking together in the bags. After all, their frozen state is preventing that from happening.
As an additional tip, you may want to put your freezer-safe storage bags upright in the freezer as this is an effective way to maximize the space available.
Method 2: Turning Fresh Mint into Ice Cubes
The second method entails turning your herbs into cool and minty ice cubes that can be thawed, melted, and used at any time.
When you decide to use your mint ice cubes, all you need to do is throw it into your recipe and let the ice melt away.
Here’s how to freeze fresh mint in ice cubes:
- Prepare the Mint Leaves – If you are working with fresh mint, then you will also need to prepare it accordingly. Similar to the 1st step in the previous method, you will need to cut the top section of your leaves, leaving two-thirds of the herb intact. Make sure that you are using healthy leaves.
- Wash and Dry the Mint Leaves – Once you are satisfied with the herbs you have on hand, wash using cool water. Then, get rid of any excess moisture. Patting them dry with two paper towels is the safest way to go. You can also opt to use a salad spinner. Take care to remove almost all of the water before freezing.
- Portion the Mint – While you still have the option of just using whole mint leaves, we recommend chopping them into defined measurements will work best down the road. For instance, we recommend that you chop the leaves and put together a tablespoon’s worth of mint per tray.
- Line the Ice Cube Tray with Mint – Once you have portioned your mint, fill your freezing tray(s) with the desired amount.
- Freeze – After portioning your mint by the tablespoon on the ice cube tray, proceed to fill the individual cubes halfway up with water. For optimal results, you need to ensure that all of your mint leaves are submerged in the water. Put the tray in the freezer the tray for at least one hour or until completely solid. Once frozen, fill in the additional water until it reaches the top of the tray then freeze again.
There are myriad different ways to use these mint cubes. The versatility of these mint cubes is nothing short of impressive.
For instance, they can serve as the beautiful final touch for your cocktails, iced tea, lemonade, and other tasty beverage. Aside from being aesthetically pleasing, these mint cubes are flavor bombs waiting to be unleashed.
These mint cubes can also be used for all manners of recipes. Just throw them in, and wait for the ice to melt. Don’t worry, the excess water won’t affect the final product.
There you have it, a brief guide to freezing mint: why you should freeze mint and the best ways to do so.
Just remember, if you want to extend the shelf life of your fresh herbs, consider sticking them in the freezer.