Peppermint

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by Guinea mama, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. Guinea mama

    Guinea mama Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    443
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2005
    Location:
    Iowa
    Okay so I have grown peppermint, now what do I do with it. Can I make peppermint oil if so how? Also I've read it is good for colds and such but how do you use it there, chew it? Any suggestions would be helpful thanks.
     
  2. culpeper

    culpeper Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    3,187
    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2002
    Location:
    Australia
    Peppermint can be used in a variety of ways. Most commonly, it is made into a tea (infusion). Simply pour boiling water over the fresh or dried herb, steep for 10-15 minutes, strain and drink. Precise measurements of the herb aren't important, but as a guide, use 1 teaspoon dried leaves per cup of boiling water, or for fresh, a sprig, or about 1 tablespoon leaves.

    Medicinal uses of peppermint: Aids digestion, eases nausea, and symptoms of cold and flu. Often used in chest rubs. It has a sedative effect and smelling the aroma can be helpful in cases of shock. Improves circulation. Used in the treatment of Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome and chronic pancreatic conditions. Eases menstrual cramping when taken as a tea with chamomile flowers. Often included in breath-freshening lozenges and mouthwashes. Can be used to dry up breast milk.

    As with most herbs, there is a down-side as well as an up-side. Large or frequent dosage can lead to a variety of symptoms including stomach problems, vomiting, high blood pressure, headaches etc. Recommended dosage is 1 cup tea per day.

    You can also use the leaves or the infusion to make various food items. Peppermint is the preferred variety for flavouring ice cream and other desserts, confectionery, especially chocolates. Leaves may be crystallised. Delicious as an iced tea. Add leftover stems and leaves to tea or coffee.

    It has other uses, too. Add to potpourri and herbal sachets. It is often a flavouring ingredient of toothpastes, mouthwashes and breath fresheners. In a bath, it is stimulating, fragrant and useful for inflamed skin. A strong infusion is good for chapped hands. It makes a great foot-bath for tired feet, or you can add it to lotions to rub into the feet. Reputed to repel rodents. Plant to repel white cabbage butterfly and ants.

    As for making the oil, you can't. The plant does that. The best you can do is try to extract the essential oil from the leaves, and this requires large amounts of herb and special, expensive equipment. Not worth it for the home hobbyist.

    Just for fun, though, you could try cramming as much herb as possible into a saucepan, cover with water, cover the pan and simmer for, say, 20 minutes. When you lift the lid, you might see small globules of oil floating on top of the water. You need to work quickly (before the oil evaporates), and syphon off that oil with an eye-dropper (or try to scoop it up with a spoon) and bottle it. If you're very lucky, you might get about a teaspoon altogether. That oil is the essential oil, but it will be contaminated by water so it won't keep as long as commercially-produced essential oil. I'd discard it after a day or two.

    You could also make a herbal oil. There are 3 ways you can do it, and I don't recommend using it internally because the risk of poisoning is high. Use it externally as a rub.

    Cold Infusion Method: Combine herbs and oil. Pureed herbs disperse their flavour more quickly but are not as aesthetically pleasing. Use with in 2 to 3 days. Store in the refrigerator at all times.

    Warm Infusion Method: In a saucepan, combine herbs and oil. Heat to a simmer, reduce heat slightly and cook just below simmering for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and strain through several layers of cheesecloth into a sterilized glass jar. Label with the date and refrigeration instructions. Store in the refrigerator at all times. Use with in 1 week.

    Oven Method: Place oil and chopped vegetable or herb in a 2 cup glass measuring cup. Set cup on a pie plate and place in a 150C oven for 1 hour. At the end of heating, the vegetable pieces should be a medium brown colour and crisp. If not, continue baking until they turn brown. Remove cup to a rack to cool for 30 minutes. Line a small strainer with a coffee filter or several layers of cheesecloth. Strain oil into a clean glass jar, cover and store in refrigerator at all times. Use within a month.
     

  3. RedEarth

    RedEarth Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    506
    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2005
    Location:
    Utah
    The easiest thing to do with mint is to make mint tea. To do this with fresh leaves, I wash a couple of sprigs and pour a quart of boiling water over them. I let this steep for about 5 minutes or so, strain and enjoy it with a bit of honey. You can dry your mint and use it the same way through the winter. I dried mine on baking sheets inside my car which I parked in the sun. The bugs stayed away and my car smells great now. When the leaves were papery dry I slid my hands down the stems to take the leaves off so it doesn't take much space to store. When preparing, I use about tablespoon of dried leaves to a quart of boiling water.
     
  4. sweetbabyjane

    sweetbabyjane Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    952
    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2002
    Location:
    South Georgia