Mint, like most herbs, should be dried on the lowest setting of your dehydrator or in a very, very low oven. (Better to use a dehydrator if you have one so you can control the temperature.) Drying at higher temperatures will destroy the oils that give the flavor and aroma. It takes a long time to do correctly, but it's worth the effort.
You can also dry mint the old-fashioned way by hanging it in bunches. When I dry this way, I place the bunches inside a paper bag while they're hanging to keep out dust. When the mint is thoroughly dried, try to not crush the leaves until right before using to retain the oils.
I've always loved homemade mint jelly with lamb (an Easter staple at my house growing up), but there's more to mint than jelly. Use dried mint as you would any herb; mint complements chicken and pork, not just lamb. Mint, fresh or dried, is also delicious in salads, pasta, rice, and other vegetable dishes as well as desserts. And don't forget the homemade mint ice cream. Many sweet mint recipes start with a mint extract or mint simple syrup.
To make a mint extract, fill a jar loosely with fresh mint leaves, gently "bruising" (crushing the leaves between your fingers to release the oils) as you put them in the jar. Add vodka and let steep for six to eight weeks. This is the same way you make homemade vanilla extract with split vanilla beans. Mint extract, like vanilla extract, lasts indefinitely.
For mint simple syrup, you can use an even ratio such as one cup of mint leaves to one cup each of water and sugar. Bring water to a boil; add sugar and mint. Reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes. Cool; strain leaves. Store in the fridge. Tip: Add a pinch of cream of tartar to the boiling mixture and the syrup won't crystallize in storage.
If you have too much mint this time of year, get busy! There are so many ways to use it. And if you've somehow made it through life without a patch or 10 of mint in your gardens, don't despair. Take a walk down a country road and lasso some mint from the wild.
Writer Suzanne McMinn lives in Roane County, where she writes every day in her blog, Chickens in the Road, at www.chickensintheroad.com.