By now my garden has gone all but fallow and has nothing but a massive cloud of almost invasive mint spewing forth out of its raised bed.
I say almost invasive.
You see, just a few months ago I had transplanted this particular mint plant to another part of the garden. I had been doing the square foot gardening method, and mint was inching its way, like an army, across the lines and into the Swiss Chard. It wasn’t letting up. It was lush and gorgeous and absolutely not where I wanted it. So I pulled it out — or so I thought — and replanted it in another bed, near the squash, where it would bother exactly no one.
Just a few weeks later it rose, Phoenix-like, out of the ashes, to take over its two square feet. Two turned into four, four turned into six, and now it is falling over onto itself in happiness if to say:
November gloom! Rainy-day epiphany! Look upon ye raised beds and despair not, for I shall inherit your earth!
Okay, it’s still just mint, and I have a whole crapload of it to use, so since my annual pledge to have a strawberry mojito party has come and gone and the time for mango, goat cheese and mighty might vinaigrette salad has passed, there really is only one thing to do, and that is make a mint oil.
Some uses for mint oil:
- sinus and respiratory infections
- inflammation of the throat and mouth
- bacterial and viral infections
- muscle pain
- Mosquito repellent
The uses of mint oil in a preparation, or used directly on the skin are legion, but I am most interested in its aroma therapeutic properties. It is the most widely used aromatherapy essential oil, and for good reason. It contains up to 70% menthol and has a camphoraceous scent that many people associate with cleanliness, freshness and energy. It can clear a congested system and is often employed at the end of massage to enliven the spirit and lull the person being massaged out of the relaxed state.
I don’t suggest you use mint oil at the office, but a little mint in an aroma diffuser or in a spray can help energize and keep focus if you’re working in a home office.
If you’ve got an abundance of mint at home and you need a good pick-me-up, try these steps to making your own mint oil. I note that this isn’t a true essential oil because the oils are stored in a carrier oil, in this case, jojoba, but the effect can be just as lovely.
You will need:
- Mint — the amount depends on how much oil you want to make. Since there is no set ratio, plan on using as much as you can fit in your
- Jar — with a a tight-fitting lid,like this one: Ball Jar
- Kitchen Mallet — to lightly crush the leaves (you can also use a mortar and pestle)
- A soft kitchen towel
- Carrier oil — I use this Jojoba Oil, but any flavorless, odorless oil will do. I also like almond oil
- A cheesecloth or fine-meshed strainer
1. Gather your mint
Pick leaves that are unbruised, gloriously green and without even a trace of brown. Good Lord, you have enough mint, so get the good stuff.
2. Clean your mint
Wash them in cool water and let them air-dry on your counter.
3. Dry the mint
Pick the leaves off the stems and just let them hang out until they are dry.
4. Release the oils in the mint
I originally wrote “crush the mint,” but that would be a bad idea. Your goal here is to gently release the oils in the leaves, so tapping them with the mallet, or slow grinding in a mortar and pestle, will do the trick. Try not to bruise the leaves, or shred them.
5. Smother the mint
Put the mint in the jar and cover it with the oil. Shake the jar a few times.
6. Strain your mint
Keep the oil in a warm place for 24 hours, then strain the oil through a cheese cloth, removing the leaves.
7. Contain your mint.
But not your enthusiasm!You can repeat steps 4-6, adding more peppermint, to make it stronger. I would try to use it up within 6 months.
What about you? How do you like to use peppermint oil? How do you use up the peppermint in your garden before the first big freeze?