Mint is one of the easiest herbs to grow, often taking over patches of the garden if left unchecked.
Fresh or dried, all mint varieties have myriad uses. This recipe highlights one of the medicinal qualities of mint – using the extract as a natural insect repellent.
You can use dried mint leaves if you prefer – the extract (not strictly speaking an essential oil) will work just as well. It’s also a great way of dealing with a few handfuls of out-of-control herb!
- 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 a flavoring for tea, hot chocolate, baking and more, but it’s true power lies in it’s medicinal qualities. Mix a few drops with a carrier oil such as avocado to make a natural insect repellent that you can apply to the skin. You can also soak cotton wool balls with the tincture and place them wherever you have an insect problem.
Try adding a few drops of mint extract to an un-fragranced salve or balm to massage into your temples to relieve a headache, or add a teaspoon to a hot bath to clear your senses.
The tincture should last for a year, and possibly beyond, if stored in a cool, dark place. You might find that it’s okay to use beyond this, but the tincture will start to lose potency after around 6 months.