How To Harvest Mint

Mint is a perennial plant that usually flowers at the top of the leafy stems, which then stop growing. It loses its leaves during winter and emits new stems from the ground the following spring. The harvest of the leaves and the flowering tops is thus carried out during the beautiful season. As it is preferable to use the fresh leaves, richer in taste, pick them in the morning and as needed whenever possible. At the end of the summer, all the stems can be harvested before the leaves are damaged.

This sheet explains how to pick and cut mint at the beginning and end of the season.

1. Harvest mint leaves regularly as needed at the beginning of the season


Cut the mint
Good to know: your mint plant will produce more stems if it grows in cool, semi-shaded soil.

When the plant is not very tall, in early spring, remove the leaves one by one with your fingernail, starting from the bottom of the stem to give the end leaves time to grow. Do not use leaves that are stained, damaged or too old.
Tip: Avoid over-cutting the stems to give them enough energy to grow back and bloom. On young clumps that have just been installed in the ground, keep about 2/3 of the foliage so that the plant can continue to thicken.

If the stem begins to form an inflorescence, you can :
cut it back low enough just above a pair of leaves to induce branching and the production of new leafy stems;
leave a few stems to bloom to attract foraging insects (butterflies) and eventually harvest the inflorescences.
Tip: use all the healthy leaves to flavor dishes such as tabbouleh or spring rolls and reserve the flowering tops to make infusions.

Store mint
Freshly picked stems or leaves can be stored washed and wrapped in paper towels for up to a week in the refrigerator.
Leafy stems can be soaked in a vase as long as the leaves are removed from the submerged area and the water is changed every 2-3 days.


2. Harvest all the mint stems at the end of the season


To enjoy your mint leaves over the winter, you have two options:

Store as many leaves as possible before they turn brown. Trim all the stems flush with pruning shears or a knife. You can then :
freeze them in ice cube trays filled with water, once the stems have been thinned out. Indeed, if you freeze the whole or chopped leaves in a Tupperware box, they risk to blacken and to lose their flavor. We therefore advise to freeze them in water;
dry them: form bunches tied with a rubber band and put to dry upside down in a warm and ventilated room. Thin the stems when the leaves become crumbly and store them in a paper bag or a closed jar;
or macerate them in oil for 15 days, once the leaves are thinned and chopped.
Tip: slightly stained leaves can be dried and stored to make infusions.

Put a clump of mint in a pot and keep it indoors behind a window at a temperature of 15 to 20°C so that it retains its foliage. Don’t forget to water it! Remove the leaves as needed and cut back the whole clump in early spring to encourage regrowth and provide nitrogen (dried blood…)

We will show you how to properly cut and harvest mint. Thoughtful pruning of mint will allow you to control its vigorous growth and harvest many aromatic leaves. However, when pruning and harvesting mint, there are different procedures to follow depending on the timing. In the article you will learn how best to cut mint to get the maximum harvest and a beautiful, vigorous plant.

Mint, like thyme, rosemary or marjoram, is one of the most common kitchen herbs. Just as with basil on the balcony, mint is also quite often sold in supermarkets, hardware stores or garden stores. For seasoning mint is used less often than the other herbs mentioned but especially in desserts it is very versatile. The tasty leaves make many desserts a culinary highlight. But it is also often found in starters or main dishes.

Properly cut and harvest mint is necessary care for the plant

Mint tastes deliciously refreshing and grows quickly. It should grow on any balcony. However, mint belongs to the invasive plants. This means that it spreads very quickly. If you plant mint in a pot with other plants, it will quickly take over from the other inhabitants. Regular pruning will help you keep mint’s growth in check. Therefore, cutting and harvesting mint properly is also essential for its care.

Cut and harvest mint properly for kitchen use


For regular kitchen use, mint can actually be harvested throughout the year. The plant grows fastest between April and September and will give you the biggest harvest. The best way to harvest mint is to cut off the stems. Plucking off individual leaves does not please the plant very much. For harvesting in between, cut the stems as you need them. However, you should make sure that at least one pair of leaves remains on a trimmed stem, then a new stem will sprout faster. To maintain the beautiful appearance of the mint throughout the year, it is best to cut off alternately from all sides.

The best time for harvesting is in the morning. The leaves taste particularly aromatic then. This is due to the great essential oils that are then still in a higher concentration in the leaves than in the afternoon.

A generous crop cut before the flowering period.

Mint blooms around June and July. The flowers are really pretty to look at. Unfortunately, the bloom harms the taste of mint leaves because they then noticeably lose flavor. Therefore, it is advisable to make a comprehensive cut before flowering. You can then preserve this large harvest. To do this, cut the entire mint to about 10 centimeters above the ground. Then the mint will quickly sprout again and you can even expect another second bloom around September. If you want to overwinter the mint over the winter, simply let the mint grow and do not cut back so that the plant can gather strength before it gets cold.

Storing mint after harvest


After harvesting the mint, it is time to use the leaves. Fresh mint leaves can be used directly after you have washed them briefly. If you want to cut and harvest mint properly, use the fresh leaves directly or the next day. After that they quickly wither. After the strong summer cut before flowering, you will probably have a surplus harvest. You can preserve this harvest. To do this, hang them loosely in a dark and dry place until the leaves are dry. Then you can simply pluck the leaves and store them in a dry and dark place for about a year. Alternatively, you can freeze the washed leaves. A great, summery trick is to make the mint leaves into ice cubes in ice cube trays. Then you’ll always have a good portioned mint infusion on hand for your next balcony party.

Grow mint on your balcony and always harvest fresh leaves
Mint is a grateful balcony inhabitant. The plants only need a lot of light and a suitable cut, otherwise they are very undemanding. If you also want to regularly use fresh mint in the kitchen, we recommend growing mint on the balcony.