Fresh mint might not be an option for much of the year if you live in a colder location. If you want access to it during the colder months, you will need a way to preserve it. Ideally, the method will allow the mint to retain as many of its fresh characteristics as possible. Can you freeze mint? The answer is yes. Freezing is a better way to preserve the herb, but only if you do it correctly. Here is a look at some of the questions around freezing mint and using mint that has been frozen.
How long can mint last in the freezer?
If you are careful when freezing them, mint leaves can last six months or longer in a frozen state. Some estimates have frozen mint lasting as long as three years.
You should choose the healthiest-looking leaves to freeze to ensure that your thawed mint is as flavorful as it was when you froze it.
Do any mint varieties hold up to freezing better than others?
Like all fresh herbs, the different mint varieties respond to freezing similarly. How well they handle low temperatures depends on how you went about freezing them.
The most reliable methods for ensuring that your frozen mint leaves hold up are the same ones that you would use for any other fresh herbs:
Ice cube method
Place whole or chopped mint leaves in the compartments of an ice cube tray and add water. Place the trays in the freezer and remove the cubes once they are solid. Store your mint ice cubes in a freezer bag.
Baking sheet method
You can freeze mint leaves on a baking sheet as well. Lay the leaves flat on a baking sheet and stick them in the freezer for about an hour, then remove them with a spatula, place in a resealable bag, and put them back in the freezer. This method keeps the leaves separate so that you can take out as many as you need without having to thaw them all out.
Dry and freeze
Mint is one of those herbs that take well to drying. You can dry mint leaves and then freeze them to make them last even longer. Use a food dehydrator, a microwave or regular oven to dry the leaves quickly. Alternatively, you can air-dry leaves for about two weeks. Place the dried leaves in a resealable bag for storage in the freezer.
Does thawed mint taste different from fresh mint?
Like any fresh herb, mint’s flavor will remain unchanged when it is frozen. What will change is the texture. Thawed mint will have a limp texture that will make it unsuitable for use as a garnish or in salads. It will still have its pungent mint flavor, which means that you can use it in any recipe that uses it for taste alone.
What are the best ways to use mint that has been frozen?
All three freezing methods above allow you to conveniently add the herb to a dish. Just toss as many cubes or leaves as you need into the dish as it cooks. The ice cube method is convenient for adding mint to drinks; just use the mint ice cubes in the place of regular ice cubes. You can thaw cubes or frozen leaves for preparations where they will be blended or muddled.
Does mint that has been frozen and thawed have a shorter shelf life than fresh mint?
Because freezing damages the mint leaves’ cell walls, bacteria and oxidation will be able to break down thawed mint faster than if the mint were still fresh.