Monday, October 21, 2013

Mint Extract

My great grandma grew a row of mint along a fence which separated her property from the neighbor's. When I was little, I remember seeing that mint growing there every summer and when my parents purchased their first home, my mom transplanted some of that mint from New Jersey all the way to our new home in Kansas.


As mint usually does, it thrived, and twenty years later when I moved far away and bought my own home, I took a little bit of that plant with me and planted it at my new home. It has even found its way to a close friend's garden -  how great is that? And again, many more years later when I got married, I planted some of that same mint, which carries with it memories of my mom and my great-grandma and childhood summers in Northern New Jersey.
 
Since mint grows so well, a great way to preserve it is to make mint extract, which will use up a lot of the mint you have and allow you to enjoy it throughout the cooler months of the year.
 
Ingredients:
Fresh Mint
Vodka or Bourbon (at least 35% to 40% alcohol so it will act as a preservative)
***You will use a 1:2 ratio of mint and vodka, so for every 1 unit of mint (the "unit" can be any size - a cup, jar, bowl, etc.) you will need twice that amount of vodka.
 
How To:
1. Pick and clean your mint, remove woody stems, if any.
 
2. Bruise your mint to release the oils by crumpling it up in your hands or with a mortar and pestle. I just used my pestle to crush it a bit. I have read crushing it works better than cutting or tearing.
 
 
3. Place bruised mint into a jar and cover with twice that amount of vodka. If you stuff mint into a 1 cup container, then use 2 cups of vodka. It's not exact science, so don't worry about it being precise. Ensure your mint is covered by the vodka, or it may mold.
 
 
4. Store in a cool, dark place. If you can remember it, shake daily. It will be done after about 30 days at which point you can strain and use as desired (see comments below for some examples). 
 
The longer you let the leaves steep, the stronger your extract will be. After 30 days, if you decide you want the extract a little stronger, you can repeat the process by adding more bruised mint to your extract and waiting another 30 days.
 
Comments:
Read this if you have gluten sensitivities. It is interesting to note that the author of this article states that all distilled alcohols are gluten-free. Obviously, it is up to you to make the right decisions for your health and if you would be more comfortable with a vodka made from non-grain sources, there are lots of options out there, like this one. Here is another article that offers gluten-free choices.
 
Now that you have the mint extract prepared, you can make all kinds of wonderful desserts such as these  Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Cupcakes from Vegan Yack Attack or these Glazed Mint Cupcakes from Vegan Yack Attack. You can try these Mint Chocolate Chip Meringue Cookies from Pickles N Honey or this Mint Hot Chocolate from Pickles N Honey. Check out this Raw Grasshopper Pie from Pure 2 Raw or these Chocolate Frosted Coconut Cookies from the Spunky Coconut.

In addition to all the great recipes, you can use mint extract in all kinds of beauty recipes. Try these Candy Cane Bath Salts from Food.com or these Chamomile Mint Bath Salts from Food.com. You can make a Sore Muscle Lotion from Wellness Mama or this amazing looking Chocolate Mint Lip Balm from Craftberry Bush. This Vanilla Peppermint Lip Balm from Jenny Highsmith sounds awesome too.

The aroma of mint can facilitate digestion or sooth an upset stomach. Balms with mint rubbed on the forehead and nose can give a quick relief to a headache and can alleviate inflammation and temperature rise that is often associated with headaches and migraines. The strong aroma of mint is very effective in clearing up congestion of the nose, throat, bronchi, and lungs and it soothes respiratory channels and can relieve irritation causing chronic coughing. The aroma of mint is also considered a natural stimulant and some studies have explored the effects of mint on memory stating that it promotes memory retention and mental alertness. Organic Facts.net discusses these and many other health benefits of mint. Finally, the Aromatic Plant Project discusses historical uses of mint and also various types of mint. If you are looking for additional background on mint, you will really enjoy this website.

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7 comments:

  1. That's such a great idea! I always buy mint in bunches and then they never last long enough for me to use the whole lot in cooking and I feel it's such a waste. If I am juicing I remember to juice them, but otherwise they get thrown in the compost and I feel it's such a waste :(. Thanks for sharing, I love this idea!

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  2. I felt the same way, which is why I decided to make this extract. Thanks for the comment. :)

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  3. This looks great! I love simple things like this that can add such wonderful flavor naturally! I make it as an elixer sometimes with honey as well. Yum! Thanks for sharing on Natural Living Monday!

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    1. That sounds wonderful! I will have to give it a try too. I have a lot of mint to use up. Thanks for the comment!

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  4. . I have mint growing in my yard and never know how to store it. This is such a great idea

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I hope you are able to use up more of your mint by making the extract. :)

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