Category

Summer

Food & Drink, Summer

How To Dry Mint Leaves for Tea

how to dry mint leaves for tea

homemade peppermint tea

Let’s talk about how to dry mint leaves for tea.

I never used to be a peppermint tea kind of lady but in what feels like a lifetime ago (pre kids) my partner and I went on holiday to Morocco.  In the middle of Marrakesh’s bustling main square, Jemaa el-Fna, we found a quiet cafe – a refuge from the searing 45°C African heat and the unrelenting snake charmers.

All the guidebooks warned us against drinking tap water, anything with ice in it, or the freshly squeezed orange juice served ubiquitously all over the square, for fear of stomach upset, so our options were dwindling.   Boiled water seemed like a safe bet, and besides, the heat had been so intense that we had reached the point where it was so hot we figured we may as well try the hot drink on a hot day trick, because we felt we simply couldn’t get any hotter.

We ordered up some peppermint tea, and what arrived were some pretty little glasses stuffed with fresh mint leaves and some freshly boiled water on the side.  And do you know what?  That tea, on a roaring hot day in what felt like the busiest place in the world really hit the spot.  We ending up in that cafe many times during our time in Marrakesh, drinking their fresh peppermint tea.

Since then we’ve grown peppermint in our garden for the purpose of having some fresh peppermint to hand to make tea with.  Which is all well and good in the summer, but in Scotland in winter doesn’t really work.  Here I’ve resorted to tea bags, but after the whole plastic in tea bags thing I’ve been thinking about how to de-plastic my tea.

Right now our mint plant is growing so vigorously that we have an over abundance of fresh peppermint – more than I can possibly drink – so I have been drying mint leaves in the oven to store for the winter.

Some people hang their herbs up to dry but with a lack of space and a lack of a warm dry space, I prefer to dry mine in the oven.  If you’re in a similar predicament here’s how to dry mint leaves for tea in the oven.

how to dry mint leaves for tea

How to Dry Mint Leaves for Tea

How To Dry Mint Leaves for Tea

Ingredients

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Clean dry jar

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 80°C
  2. Pick the peppermint stalks (I cut just below the last leaf) and place in a colander.
  3. Give the colander a good shake to remove any beasties, and then give the stalks a wash under cold running water.
  4. Gently dry the leaves using a tea towel and remove any discoloured leaves.
  5. Spread the stalks out on a baking tray and bake in the oven for around 1.5 hours - keeping an eye on them to ensure the leaves don't burn.
  6. You can tell the leaves are fully dried out when the leaves become very crisp and brittle. When they are sufficiently dry remove from the oven and gently remove the leaves from the stalks, placing the leaves in a clean dry airtight jar.  I then compost the stalks.

Your mint will store for at least 12 months if kept in a cool dark cupboard.

Rather than cutting up the whole of my peppermint plant, I’ve been cutting an oven dish worth of leaves every week or two, to allow for new growth so as to keep me in fresh leaves for tea over the summer, and to build up a nice stock of dried mint for winter time.

To serve I add one to two teaspoons of dried leaves to either a strainer, infuser, teapot, or reusable teabag (whatever you’ve got, basically), then add boiling water, and allow it to infuse for a few minutes before drinking.

drying peppermint leaves in the oven

dried peppermint leaves

Food & Drink, Summer

Pickled Cucumber Recipe with Fennel Flowers

pickled cucumber recipe

pickled cucumber recipe

We’ve got an over abundance of flowering fennel right now. It  takes over quite a large corner of our garden but rather than dig up the bulbs to eat, the flowering fennel is something we want to keep –  the bees and wasps absolutely love it.  As well as helping wildlife, attracting wasps to our garden helps keep our caterpillar population at a minimum – companion planting for the win!

I don’t use much fennel in my cooking.  I like  to use fennel fronds in cucumber salad – served with feta cheese it’s delicious, but I’ve never done anything with fennel flowers.  I’ve always wondered if I could perhaps share the fennel flowers with the bees and wasps, and I thought about pickling cucumbers with fennel instead of traditional dill.  I gave it a go and was pretty delighted with the results.  So delighted in fact that I thought I’d share the pickled cucumber recipe with you guys.  The fennel gives the pickled cucumber that extra flavour hit.  And the good thing is the recipes uses only a few flower heads so there will be plenty left for the bees and wasps!

cucumber recipe idea

One note before you get started – I made one large jar and five small jars of cucumber pickle, so make sure you’ve got enough jars to hand for your pickled cucumber!  You also want to ensure your lids are vinegar proof – meaning there isn’t any metal that can touch the vinegar.  If you don’t use vinegar proof lids, the vinegar can react with the metal lid, giving the pickled cucumber a metallic taste.

If you’re using old jars that you’re recycling then look for lids with a plastic lining in them.  They good thing is if you’re using jars that previously contained any kind of pickle, chutney, mayonnaise or tomato sauce then the lids are sure to be vinegar proof.  The only lids I’ve seen which aren’t vinegar proof tend to be lids from honey jars.  Kilner clip jars are also good for pickle making.

summer recipe ideas
pickling cucumbers
pickled cucumber with fennel

Easy Pickled Cucumber Recipe with Fennel Flowers

adapted from Debora Robertson

Easy Pickled Cucumber Recipe with Fennel Flowers

This delicious and easy pickled cucumber recipe with fennel is so easy to prepare and perfect for adding a touch of summer flavour to any meal.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 2 hours 10 minutes
Servings 6 jars

Ingredients

  • 3 cucumbers
  • 500 ml cider vinegar
  • 400 ml white wine vinegar
  • 120 ml water
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoons peppercorns
  • 6 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • 2-3 tablespoons salt

Instructions

  1. Slice the ends of off your cucumbers and discard, then slice the cucumbers into coins, roughly 1.5cm thick.
  2. Sprinkle salt on a plate and cover the plate with one layer of the slices of cucumber. Sprinkle salt on top of that layer then add another layer of cucumber on top. Continue salting and layering your cucumber until all of your cucumber has been salted. I ended up using two plates. Leave for two hours to macerate.
  3. Whilst you are waiting on your cucumbers to macerate it's best to make the pickling brine. To do this it's really easy - simply add the vinegars, water, sugar, garlic slices,, mustard seeds and peppercorns to a pot and heat gently over a low heat, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Once you've done this leave this mixture to cool.
  4. After about 1 hour and forty minutes sterilise your jars and lids. To sterilise jars see this guide to sterilising jars.
  5. Once your two hours is up rinse the salted cucumbers and pat dry with clean tea towels.
  6. Place the cucumbers into your jars and evenly divide your fennel flowers between the jars. Pour the brine over the cucumbers and fennel, leaving just half a centimetre from the lid of the jar. Seal and leave in a cool dark place for 48 hours at the absolute least, but preferably a week. The longer you leave it the greater the taste, so patience really is a virtue!
  7. The jars should keep for around 3 months unopened. If you want you can place your sealed jars in a bath of boiling water for 5 minutes to process them - this should mean they will keep for around a year, unopened. They do soften a bit using this method.
  8. Once opened, keep your pickles in the fridge and use within a fortnight.

I hope you enjoy this easy pickled cucumber recipe!  It’s definitely a firm favourite in our house!