I love mint. I have been growing mint for a long time, and my mint crop this year was frankly too much. I typically pick mint as needed and use it for cocktails, especially mojitos (of course) and a nice cucumber, lime, mint, gin cooler. I've never made mint ice cream in my Cuisinart ice cream maker, but that would be a great use of it too.
Recently, I've been thinking about what I want to use my mint for. I mean, I sort of let it free-roam in one of my garden boxes, so maybe I should just start actually using it for a purpose, instead of taking it leaf by leaf for cocktails! I don't drink enough to use up that much mint! I have maybe two cocktails per week. Maybe.
Lately, I've picked a lot of mint to make into tea. I took a full cookie pan full of fresh mint, and baked it at 175° for 2 hours to make mint "tea" leaves. I've added this to my daily tea, and have had a good experience with it. But I still don't know that I drink enough tea to justify the shear amount of mint I'm getting from the garden:
This is about half of my mint crop this year. Yes, it is a weed and grows very well. It's pretty much the best thing growing in my dismal garden. I'm still learning how to handle vegetables and flowers!
I had read that you can actually make your own essential oils with fresh mint, so I thought I would try my hand at it. I found a couple of how-to guides, including an eHow page:
So I followed the steps. I picked a bunch of the mint in my garden, and my son and I divided it into usable leaves and brown/unusable leaves. It was tedious but not too bad. Once we had divided everything, I washed all the leaves, and allowed them to air dry.
While looking for the sources I used, I found this tutorial by Kendra at The Kreative Life. I wish I had seen it before! Kendra writes that you should cut in the stems too. I didn't do that, because the eHow page didn't mention it. She also heats her oil up, which DUH, I should have done as well. Oh well. Next year!
After I air dried my mint leaves, I used a roller to crush them, just enough to bruise the leaves.
I could really smell the mint in the air!
I then stuff as many leaves as I could into a jar with my carrier oil. I used avocado oil because that's all I had, and it didn't seem to have a smell.
After 48 hours of leaving the oil in a cool, dry place, I poured it into another jar through cheesecloth. It was definitely green-looking. It smelled minty but not too minty. I was frankly kind of disappointed. It has a sort of weird under-smell. Like when you spray a flowery perfume over something stinky? Or maybe more like if someone brushes their teeth with minty toothpaste but you can still smell some of the remnants of the gyro they had for lunch.
I read in yet another tutorial that you can repeat the process several times for more concentrated oil. So, I repeated the entire thing again, only leaving the mint for 24 hours this time.
As you can see, it's a sort of cool green color, I guess! I didn't use coconut oil, I had a clean coconut oil jar that I used for storing it! After the second round, it smelled slightly better, but it still didn't have that mint pop that I was looking for in an essential oil.
As for this mint oil I made, I might still try to use it in the bath or maybe even try to make a shower melt to see if it works. I'm somewhat disappointed, but I'm still glad I did this, because the mint was going to just die anyway, and I've never done anything like this before. I think I will try The Kreative Life's method next year when my huge mint crop inevitably grows back and tries to take over my garden again. I'm sure I'll have plenty of chances to practice. And I can always just make tea if need be!