In this post we'll examine preparing mint so that it lasts a longer time either on the bartop during service, and/or stored to last a long time.
The basics of mint preparation were researched and published by consultant Peter Vestinos and has become known as the Vestinos Method. You can find the full account of mint preparation for the bar top on his website The Bar Medic.
The basics of the technique are:
- Strip the mint of lower leaves.
- Cut the stems of bunches of mint to the desired length. Cut them at an angle as you do flowers.
- Plunge the mint into ice water for 15-20 minutes.
- You can also prep the stripped leaves by plunging them into cold water then storing them cold.
Then, for mint that will be used on the bar top (sitting out with leaves up, stems down in a glass)
- Fill your cup/julep cup with warm water and place mint stems-down in it.
- The mint should remain fresh for up to 8 hours.
As I do a lot of events, I often prepare mint a day or two in advance and keep it stored to avoid having to do so much same-day prep. However, I've had mint stored in my refrigerator in the below manner that has lasted for two weeks.
- Prepare the mint as above, stopping after the cold plunge for 20 minutes.
- Shake the water off the mint so that it's relatively dry.
- Store the mint in sealed containers and keep in refrigerator until needed. I use the Ziploc rectangle-shaped storage containers, though you can use deli containers, food storage bags, or any sealed container. I prefer the rectangle storage containers because they're reusable and stackable, and you can store a lot of mint in each.
- I line the container with a single paper towel. After loading the mint, I shake the container so that any water stuck to the leaves will moisten the paper towel. This moisture should keep the mint from drying out, while not making the leaves wet.
- The less mint stored in each container the better, but you can pack the mint in fairly tight- I'd estimate I can put in 60 prepared sprigs in each container. You want to pack it so that the leaves of the mint remain bushy and aren't pressed flat to each other.
- What we want to avoid in general is too many leaves flat upon leaves (not enough air flow) and not wet. This is where leaves will turn black. And if there's no moisture in the container, they can dry out and get wilty- though I find you need less moisture than you might guess if you've prepared them with the Vestinos Method above.