There’s nothing quite like fresh mint. I try to keep at least one peppermint plant going in my kitchen herb garden, and I also grow it in out outdoor herb garden. Freezing weather has arrived here in North Idaho, so I recently had to rescue the last of our plants.
There are many ways to preserve fresh mint, and one of them is peppermint infused honey.
My husband disagrees, but I think mint and coffee are a match made in heaven. I add peppermint to my coffee often, (not just at the holidays!) and this infused honey is a perfect way to do that. It’s also a lovely addition to iced and herbal teas. Drizzled on toast… Or anything, really!
Peppermint (Mentha piperita) is probably best known as a breath freshener and a remedy for upset stomach or nausea associated with morning sickness. But that’s really just scraping the surface – peppermint is good for so much more. Its latin name, mente, actually means “thought,” suggesting that the Romans considered it to be more than just a tasty addition to a salad – peppermint is brain food.
In aromatherapy, the smell of peppermint is considered simultaneously calming and stimulating. The volatile terpenes in peppermint (including menthol), which are responsible for its minty odor and taste, are useful in relieving anxiety and tension, and also for refreshing and energizing the senses. I’m a long-time fan of Dr. Bronner’s peppermint Castile soap for this very reason… the invigorating smell and cooling sensation of peppermint soap is a beloved part of my wakeup ritual! ?
As a digestive aid, the bitters in peppermint tone and cleanse the liver, and also stimulate the bile and digestive juices necessary to jump start the digestive process. Peppermint’s antispasmodic and carminative actions can ease cramping of the stomach associated with gas and digestive upset. It’s even been called the “drug of first choice” for IBS sufferers.
Peppermint can provide relief from nasal congestion and its anti-inflammatory and histamine inhibiting flavonoids have been shown to be an effective treatment for allergic rhinitis (hay fever). It’s antitussive (cough suppressing) actions are a match made in heaven paired with honey, which has been shown to be just as effective as common, over-the-counter cough suppressants containing dextromethorphan (DM).
Applied topically, peppermint can have powerful pain-relieving (analgesic) actions, and is useful in easing headaches, earaches, tooth and muscle aches. It’s also a vasodilator and stimulates circulation.
Peppermint is chock full of benefits all by itself, but paired with raw honey it becomes a therapeutic (not to mention delicious) powerhouse.
Raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered honey has a long history in folk medicine as a cough suppressant and a soothing remedy for sore throats. It’s anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties make it beneficial for everything from asthma to UTIs to ulcers. Honey is also a source of prebiotic fructooligosaccharides, which nourish intestinal gut bacteria critical for digestion and health in general. If you opt for a local variety and consume it regularly, it may also protect against seasonal allergies by desensitizing the immune system to the allergens that would normally trigger a reaction.
Please note that we’re talking about raw, unpasteurized, unfiltered honey here… commercial pasteurized honey is NOT the same thing. The heat of pasteurization kills off the beneficial enzymes and damaging many of the vitamins and antioxidants that make honey so nourishing. The ultrafiltration process that makes commercial honey look pretty on the shelf also strips away nutritious pollen that contains a slew of vitamins, amino acids, essential fatty acids, micronutrients and antioxidants.
Hopefully you’re inspired to experiment with a favorite herb or two, or maybe try something new! I make a wonderful jalapeño infused honey for a sweet & savory cocktail recipe I make (will post about this soon!) Lemon infused honey is soothing on a sore throat and makes a killer cough suppressant. Elderberry and elderflower infused honeys also have incredible immune boosting benefits. Cinnamon honey? Yum! Lavender honey? Yes please. Hibiscus? Rose hip? Oh, the possibilities! ??
What kind of infused honey will you make? Join our community to connect with other herbalists!
- Enough mint leaves to fill a pint sized mason jar
- Raw honey, preferably local
- Wash mint leaves and spread them out on paper towels or a wire cooling rack. Allow to dry and wilt overnight to eliminate excess moisture that can lead to mold growth.
- Place herbs inside mason jar, and add honey until jar is full and the leaves are submerged.
- If honey is too solid to pour, gently heat it by placing it in a warm water bath. Take care not to heat the honey beyond about 110F, or you risk destroying its beneficial enzymes.
- Secure the jar's lid, and place in a sunny windowsill for 2-4 weeks.
- Flip the jar onto its lid once a day or so. This step is important to make sure the mint is staying submerged in the honey. You do not want the mint exposed to any oxygen or you risk contamination and bacteria growth.
- Strain out the herbs using a mesh strainer or colander, making sure there is no remaining plant matter in your infusion. If the honey is too thick, repeat the warm water bath step until the honey is thin enough to strain.