Monday, August 27, 2012

End of Summer Garden Specials: How to dry Hydrangeas and How to Make Peppermint Extract.

This is the garden I pass on my way to the clothes line every day.

The fragrance of mint is strong
and it is welcome,
even though it has clearly gained dominance in the flower bed.

If it were spring, 
I would tear into this patch with a vengeance to remove it's greedy presence,
but as almost everything else has had it's moment of glory,
I allow it to run wild
with the promise that I will gain from it.

This weekend, I decided to act on my threats.

Fist fulls of chocolate mint and peppermint were collected.

I also made time to gather up the hydrangea blooms to dry while I was out
since they were at the perfect stage for picking and drying.

I tried two methods of preparing my mints for their purpose
of becoming mint extract:

Pulling the leaves off the stems,
starting by snipping off the top most tender leaves,

and then grabbing the top of the stem...

 pulling the leaves from the top down.
They slide off rather easily this way
preventing the tedium of picking off each leaf.

 Any imperfect leaves were set aside from the good ones in the colander.

I then washed the separated leaves
with just a good spray of water,
and then set them out loosely on towels to dry.

 I also tried washing and then drying whole stems of the mint.

 (I found I preferred the first method
as the leaves were easier to pull from the stems before washing.)

These should then sit overnight,
so that they can dry out a bit.

The less water in them,
the stronger will be the extract.
Also, the leaves should only be left out for not more than a day
as all would be lost if the leaves start growing mold.

Once the mints were set out to dry,
I could turn my attention to preserving the hydrangea blooms.

I have found I prefer the "Sip of Water" drying method.

The blooms are stripped of all leavers,

and then the stems are placed in water.

The blooms by the time they are picked,
are slightly papery.  They are not soft.

 To pick them in this state is perfect because if a strong rain storm blows up while they are still on the bush,
it could damage the blooms.

They will drink of the water
until it is all evaporated,
and then the flowers will dry to a stronger dried bloom than if they were
air-dried upside down.

one has the distinct advantage...

of enjoying the blooms while they dry.

The next day,
the mint leaves can be scrunched up
to damage the leaves and allow more of the oils to be released.

The leaves are then put into clean pint jars.

Once filled to about 1/2...

the leaves are completely covered in a bath of vodka.

These jars are then capped,
put into a cool, dark place,
and allowed to sit for about a month
when the lid can be removed
and the extract can see if it has strong enough flavor.
If so, strain out the leaves,
and use as an extract in baking.

Did you enjoyed any treasures from your gardens this weekend?


  1. I was attracted to this post because I've been thinking about my favourite scents all day. This year, for the first time, I've tried drying hydrangea blossoms. I used the same method as you have, and hope I'll be successful.

  2. Oh, I've always wanted to know someone who'd let peppermint to run wild... just to see if it could.
    I love it's scent but I have it in a pot here and there. But I wanted to have a row of it in the garden but wasn't sure I could... now I know I can.

    Thank you for sharing. I enjoyed a fig (my fig tree is young and gave me its first honey drop fig) and waiting for the Mangos I've seen grown from small points of green to palm sized fruits... wondering the taste... antecipating the generosity of harvest of the two that survived.

  3. What a great post! I don't have chocolate mint yet...I saw it at a nursery but didn't get any this year. I do have spearmint, peppermint, orange mint and lemon balm. I expect this would work as well with the other mints? I'm definitely going to give this a try!
    I would love for you to share this in our weekly recipe linky @ I believe my readers would enjoy this post. Thanks and have a great week. I visited from The Prairie Homestead ☺

  4. That's how I dry hydrangeas, too. They look 100% better. In fact, I don't even like the way they look dried upside-down.

    Great tip on the mint extract!


  5. I wish I had a hydrangea bush! Thanks for the tutorial on how to dry them.

  6. I love this post! I love hydrangeas too! Got ay tips to grow them? I'm in Fla.

  7. What a lovely garden you have, and how fun to be able to go out and pick the mint or such gorgeous hydrangeas. Thank you for the tutorial and thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday!


I love your comments!