Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Lord Almighty, I Feel My Temperature Rising!

And, not just because I'm a hunk of burning love.  As Summer lulls on, the mercury keeps surging, and it's got me looking for new ways to stay hydrated, and cool
leading me to peppermint infused water.  

Since the menthol in peppermint can actually induce a mild sweat, it's considered a cooling agent, and is quite refreshing in small doses.  Peppermint is also a source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium - some of the crucial building blocks for our electrolytes, which are often easily depleted by guzzling tons of ordinary water in hot Summer months.  Ok, so while we may not be bowled over by the trace amounts of minerals in herbs, and able to forsake all other forms of food (1 Tbs of fresh leaves = 9 mg of potassium), it certainly doesn't hurt to slip 'em into your jug, and infuse your beverage you were already going to drink!

Here's What You Do:
In a glass gallon jug combine the ripped, crushed, or pulverized leaves of 5-7 stems clipped from your peppermint plant with pure, filtered water.  Let sit around 6 hours on your counter top, strain, and keep in the refrigerator for the duration of its use.

"But my garden is overgrown with peppermint, 5-7 stems a day will never tame this invasion," you're saying.  I know, I know (well, I should say: I know now - I had no idea, before planting, how aggressive peppermint was in the garden!) ...  But now that you have an out of control patch of herb you're going to clip the hell out of it, and start drying it to make your own tea!

Here's What You Do:
Step one - Clip the hell out of it.
Step two - Dry it.  Here, you have a couple of options.  One, you can gather small bunches and hang them in a clean, dry area with lots of air flow.  Or, save your drying for the odd rainy Summer day, and dry your batches in the oven.  I use my roasting pan that came equipped with a rack in the bottom, of course you can improvise with cookie sheets and cooling racks, it doesn't have to be perfect, you just want nice air flow around your stems.  Next, place your peppermint in the oven on the lowest setting your appliance allows, and leave the door cracked open - you want to dry it, not cook it (depending on your oven, and location this can take anywhere from 30 minutes to about 1 hour and 45 minutes).  Remove, and let cool.
Check for signs of moisture; your leaves should be nice and crunchy.

Once your peppermint has sufficiently dried, remove the leaves from the stems, and rub in a strainer situated over either a bowl or measuring pitcher with a pestle or soup spoon gently grinding the leaves into small flakes and removing any unwanted sharp pieces of stem.  Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry location until your next tea party, or recipe calls for it.  Enjoy!