The Damsel went out to her herb garden and shook her head in dismay. As usual, the peppermint was out of control.
Why can’t the cilantro grow like that? The Damsel can think of many delicious solutions to an out-of-control-cilantro problem. But what do you do with peppermint?
The Damsel has used a leaf or two in lemonade, and she’s even made tea with it. That’s nice. But a leaf or two hardly puts a dent in the mint population currently at the Damsel’s cottage.
Lo and behold she discovered peppermint oil has a lot of uses. People use it to cure nausea, indigestion, cold symptoms, headaches, muscle and nerve pain, stomach and especially bowel conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. And that’s just the beginning. Apparently mice and ants hate it, so a person could get rid of the little critters without poison or snapping traps.
It can be expensive. A little 4 oz. bottle costs about $10. So what would Grandma do? Peppermint, meet oil. Oil, meet peppermint.
The Damsel grabbed a few big handfuls, yanked them right out by the roots. A person could cut the mint and let it keep growing, but the whole point of this was to reduce the mint population explosion.
She washed it and stripped leaves from the stems. Another person could have used stems and all, but the Damsel has so much mint she can use just the leaves and feel perfectly good about it.
Find a handy jar. A pint canning jar will do, or a small salsa jar with a tight lid. Use it to measure vegetable oil into a pan. Heat to 160 degrees. The Damsel discovered that 160 is nothing to a pan of oil. It won’t even act hot yet at that temp.
The Damsel would like to announce that if you mention the dirty burner felony in the above picture, she will not take it kindly.
Chop the mint a bit. The more cut edges, the more minty goodness will ooze into the oil.
Stuff the cut mint into the jar–the one you measured the oil with. Fill it nice and full. It can be pretty tight, but not cram-packed.
When the oil is warmed, pour it into the jar, filling it as full as is practical. No need to worry about head space or breathing room. You aren’t going to process it or freeze it or anything.
Poke it a bit to get air bubbles out but don’t fuss.
Screw on the lid and put it away in a dark place for a month. A MONTH???? The Damsel hates waiting. But some things take time.
If you live local to the Damsel, come on over and get a start of mint for your own garden. Permit her a cruel chuckle as she contemplates the eventual overrun of your garden. Unless, of course, you are smarter than she was and plant it in a pot.
Note 7/9/2012: Since this post was written, the Damsel has learned a thing or two about the difference between this procedure and a true essential oil. This is actually what you’d call an herbal infusion, and although many of the healthy benefits of peppermint can be found in an infusion, it’s not the same as an essential oil in strength or purity. It’s nearly impossible to make your own essential oils…the equipment necessary is complicated and expensive. So, if you have access to a lot of peppermint, why not try an infusion and see how you like it? Just remember the difference.