Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow, if left unchecked, sometimes they take over garden patches.
Fresh or dried, all varieties of mint have innumerable uses. This recipe highlights one of mint’s medicinal qualities-using the extract as a natural repellent for insects.
If you prefer, you can use dried mint leaves-the extract (not an essential oil strictly speaking) will work just as well. It’s a great way to handle a few handfuls of out-of-control herb too!
- Quantity of fresh or dried mint leaves – around three handfuls
- Alcohol such as vodka, at least 80% proof – enough to fill your jar
- Clean jar with lid
- Brown/blue glass bottle to store
1. If using fresh mint leaves, pick on a dry, preferably sunny morning. If you know pesticides or herbicides haven’t contaminated the leaves, then just give them a good shake and check for any lurking insects. Otherwise, give them a wash in clean water and pat dry on kitchen towels.
2. Pick off the leaves and tear or chop them into pieces.
3. Pack the leaves into your jar and pour over the alcohol, leaving around 2 cm of headroom.
Give the jar a shake and store somewhere dark.
4. Leave for 3 – 5 weeks, shaking the jar every few days.
5. Once the mint oils have been fully infused with the alcohol – taste a drop to test its strength – strain the liquid and discard the leaves. The tincture is usable at this stage, but can be poured into a clean dish, covered and left to evaporate for a few days to give a more concentrated extract.
6. Pour into an opaque glass bottle – an empty, washed medicine bottle is ideal – preferably with a dropper lid, and use as needed.
Use as a Flavoring or Natural Insect Repellent
Mint extract can be used as tea flavoring, hot chocolate, baking and more, but its medicinal qualities are the true strength. To make a natural insect repellent that you can apply to the skin, mix a few drops with a carrier oil such as avocado. You may also soak the tincture with cotton wool balls, and position them anywhere you have an insect problem.
Try applying a few drops of mint extract to an unscented salve or balm to rub into your temples to alleviate a headache, or apply a teaspoon to a hot bath to clear your senses.
The tincture will last a year and probably beyond, if kept in a cool, dark place. You might find that it’s okay to use beyond that, but after about 6 months, the tincture will begin to lose potency.