Mint can be an invasive ground cover or a hard-to-care-for, picky plant, but what happens when the leaves change color? Can you eat brown mint leaves? There are several reasons mint leaves turn brown. Depending on one what went wrong, you can save the plans and even eat those brown leaves. If your mint has a fungal infection, then you should never consume any part of it. However, a mint plant that has dried out is just fine. Whether it’s burnt from too much sun or dehydrated from not enough water, those brown leaves are fine. In fact, lots of people dry mint leaves for tea on purpose. I love fresh and dried mint, and I’ve been growing it for years. I will teach you everything you need to know about mint care and when you can eat it safely. With a little extra knowledge, your mint will thrive, and you can eat it year-round.
Can you eat brown mint leaves? You can eat brown mint leaves that have dried out. It’s important to understand the difference between brown, dried mint leaves and mint with brown fungal spots. Please do not eat fungus-infected plants. Otherwise, feel free to enjoy your dried mint leaves alone or sprinkled on foods like a spice.
What Does It Mean When Mint Leaves Turn Brown
You can eat some brown mint leaves, but there are several reasons why they turn. Sometimes it comes from drying, and those leaves are fine to consume. When the plant is infected, those leaves are not edible.
Mint that has turned brown is probably dried out and dead. Mostly this means it’s great for te and spicing your food. However, some mint problems can signify disease or mold, and that’s a problem.
Reasons Mint Leaves Turn Brown
The following list covers all the reasons mint leaves turn brown. Additionally, I will share whether you can eat each type of brown leaf and how to fix the issue.
- Age- As your mint plant grows, you may see browning leaves near the bottom. This is due o the natural aging process. Prune these leaves off and dry them to eat. Taking the time to do this will also help the whole plant grow healthy.
- Disease and Fungus- Because of its preferred environment, shady and moist, mint is prone to disease and fungus. If your plant is legitimately sick, do not eat the brown leaves. Regardless of the cause, a plant with fungus or disease can make you ill as well. Treat fungus infections with neem oil, or remove the diseased plants and the soil they grew in from the garden to prevent the issue from spreading.
- Low Humidity- Mint leaves don’t like to be too dry and can shrivel in arid heat. Dry mint leaves are edible. Move your mint to an area with more humidity naturally. Alternatively, you can use a mister, misting bottle, or provide a nearby water source such as a small fountain to maintain moisture in the air. Be careful with this method because the higher moisture content in the air breeds fungus easily.
- No Shade- Mint likes a partly shady area for ideal growing. Too much sun and heat will bake the leaves even when the water balance is fine. Like other dried leaves, you can harvest and eat these. Provide shade cloth or move potted plants to another area with some natural shade.
- Not Enough Water- Dehydrated plants turn a darker color. Eating dried mint leaves or having them as tea is no problem. Stop this from happening in the future by watering more often. Bi-weekly is usually fine, but if your mint is in soil that drains out too fast or it is overly hot, you can add an extra watering each week for a short time.
- Root Constriction aka Binding- When a plant has a limited growing area, the roots can overgrow and strangle each other. Since the plant can’t get enough water, leaves will die. Dead or dry mint leaves are safe to eat. Solve this issue by carefully untangling the roots and repotting your mint into multiple containers or a larger bed.
- Too Much Water- You can eat leaves that are dying from overwatering as long as they are not moldy. Cut back to only giving your mint water once or twice per week. Mint leaves like moist soil, but not sodden wet conditions.
How Can You Tell If Mint Has Gone Bad
Fungus and disease aren’t the only things that can make mint inedible. It’s important to know when mint has gone off. After all, you don’t want to eat bad mint.
First, always use your nose. If your sense of smell is intact, this is your best line of defense against any comestible product that has gone bad. In short, if it smells wrong, don’t eat it. Throw away bad mint.
Secondly, you can use your eyes. Brown mint is not an issue if it is dry and crumbling. However, if it looks spotty, moldy, or otherwise ‘weird,’ then please don’t risk your health on it.
Finally, the texture is a good clue. Rotten mint may feel soft, slimy, or squishy. I suggest disposing of any bad mint promptly. Especially if the mint has gone moldy, it is important to throw out anything rotted mint was stored with or touching.
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Is It Safe To Eat Raw Mint Leaves
Not only is it safe to eat raw, not brown, mint leaves, but people have done so for all of human history. Particularly before we had modern dentistry and toothbrushes, halitosis (bad breath) was a problem for everyone. Chewing mint leaves was a common solution.
Most people don’t eat mint very much, even if they are fans of drinking mint tea. However, mint has some surprising positive health effects. Notably, mint is a superb source of antioxidants. Moreover, mint has a small amount of vitamin A.
All mint, including raw leaves, is good for irritable bowels and indigestion. The oils create a cool sensation that is great for sore throats. You’ll often find mint, such as peppermint, in teas and cough drops meant for colds, flu, and other illness.
Topically mint is a nice cooling agent and may be used to treat soreness from breastfeeding. Furthermore, ingesting or even smelling mint is linked to improved brain function.
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Can You Eat Black Mint Leaves
Before you determine whether your black mint leaves are safe to eat, you need to ask a couple of questions. For example, are those mint leaves you want to eat black, or are they just darker brown? Furthermore, are they black all over?
If there are spots, or just the tips are black, it can give you a clue about what’s going on. Spots of black typically indicate that there is a fungal problem. Like most forms of fungus that are not edible mushrooms, mint-fungus can sicken you.
Mint leaves that have withered to dark brown or black can be eaten. However, you need to ensure you’ve treated the problem first.
Peruvian Black Mint
Peruvian black mint or Huacatay isn’t actually black. This mint often has purple-tinged leaves that look ‘black’ in dim lighting or shade. The seeds are a dark brown or black color, but the actual plant is still deep green color when growing.
Distinct and sharp-leaved, this unique mint is used in South American cuisine. The flavor is lightly citrusy with hints of basil and tarragon and a scent that is often compared to anise. Although you won’t see it often in the USA, you can grow it from seed at home.
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Having mint every day is great for your health. Whether you eat brown mint leaves or green, you can improve your wellbeing. From indigestion to nutrients and better brain function, mint is a superb thing to grow at home.
I recommend growing mint hydroponically. Choosing this method gives you more control over the environment where your plant lives and can help you avoid any growing problems. Plus, hydroponic plants can grow in any climate and season. Best of all, mint plants have fragrant leaves that will make your house smell amazing.
So long as there’s no fungus on those brown mint leaves, you can eat them anyway. With TLC and careful maintenance, you will have happy indoor mint plants all year.