My short bio: My name is James A. Crosby, but call me Peppermint Jim. I am a fourth generation mint farmer, artisan distiller, and guinness world record holder. I grew up on the Crosby Mint Farm in St. Johns, Michigan. The farm was established in 1912 by my great-grandfather and is the oldest, continuously family operated mint farm in the United States. This past August was our 106th year in operation, and in the time we have been through all the highs and lows a 100 year old farm can be through. Ask Me Anything! Edit We had a previous AMA here as well, but now with more proof! Link below! My Proof: * Me, PeppermintJim! * The Website * Facebook * The Previous AMA

UPDATE Thank you everyone for all your questions and support. I was completely blown away by the sheer number of questions and comments that accumulated. When the first AMA was taken down, I was nervous we wouldn't see a come back, but you guys blew it out of the water! I have an early work day tomorrow so I need to turn it in. I apologize if I didn't get a chance to answer your question, but I will keep my eyes on my inbox all day tomorrow as well! Goodnight everyone, and my very best regards, PJ.

UPDATE 2 Consider the AMA re-open for buisness! Over night I got a back log of questions and comments and its my goal to get to most if not all of you! So don't be deterred if you don't get a response right away, I'm making my way through! Best regards, PJ.

Final Update I want to give a special thanks to eveyone who asked a question and everyone who posted a comment, you guys are why I do what I do. To the r/IAma moderators, thank you for your patience and helping me get through the process of getting this thing up and running. I want to thank the Reddit community for this opportunity to share what I love with people all around the world. I look forward to chatting with you all again. Keep an eye out for Peppermint Jim! My best wishes to you all, and my very best regards. PJ.

Comments: 780 • Responses: 62  • Date: 

zygote_harlot676 karma

What do you think about replacing stupid grass lawns with mint?

PeppermintJim967 karma

I've actually never thought about that, but it would be a really cool idea! Imagine mowing the lawn, and instead of fresh cut grass, fresh cut mint! Best regards, PJ.

jetrouverai469 karma

Any relation to Doublemint Dave?

PeppermintJim252 karma

Nope. But its a cool name!

Kokoa_390 karma

What's the strongest mint concoction you guys have made?

PeppermintJim829 karma

Over the past 25 years I've produced a few hundred gallons of peppermint and spearmint schnapps that generally ran about 80 proof. However one year I made a drink called Peppermint Jim's Kentucky Mint, which ran a little over 100 proof!

StJ_and_proud390 karma

As a local resident of St. Johns, I thank you sir! The smell of fresh mint is the reason I take Parks and Williams home every day with my windows down. What local farmers markets are you available at regularly?

PeppermintJim312 karma

Thank you for your support! Its for becsuse of you that we are able to continue on. We are available at The Flint Farmers Market every Thursday and Saturday! Very best regards, PJ.

Doktor_Wunderbar287 karma

Can peppermint be farmed year round, or is there a planting season and a harvest season?

PeppermintJim367 karma

Traditionally its only at certain times of the year but I've currently been working on a project that will allow us to continue with year round production. Typical mint farming is seasonal but it is possible to grow year round, which is my intent! Best regards, PJ

NuclearRabbits91 karma

What's your plan for the year round production? A farm in Hawaii like HerbCo? Thanks.

PeppermintJim361 karma

Actually we currently have an experimental grow station growing all year round in the southwest! Its been running for the passed three years. We've completed a feasibility study and come away with results in growing sustainability, reducing our carbon foot print and cutting down the use of fossil fuels. The goal is to achieve more with less. Best regards, PJ.

POCKALEELEE232 karma

I used to drive by your mint farm going from CMU to Lansing. Loved that smell! I teach school and have some mint in my field. What's the coolest thing I can do with it in my classroom?

PeppermintJim497 karma

The coolest thing I would do is make a class project out of it! Cut your mint when it's blossomed, and bring it in. Let the kids see it, touch it, and smell it. Then hang it upside down and dry it. Once its dry (typically in about two days) strip the leaves off the stem. This is how you make tea! Let them know too if they crush it in hand, it will be as aromatic as if it were fresh! That will give them all something to remember when they get older! Good luck and best regards! PJ

Tato7069181 karma

Wait, are you Peppermint Jim of the St. Johns Jims?

PeppermintJim165 karma

Yes indeed I am!

imakenosensetopeople165 karma

I bet your mojitos are delicious, do you have a recipe you like using your fresh mint?

PeppermintJim420 karma

I call it Peppermint Jim's dirty Mojito. Think tradition mojito; lime juice, sugar, carbonated water and fresh spearmint. The secret? Spiced rum instead of clear rum.

1amathrowaway157 karma

This is the most interesting AMA I've ever read that I didn't think would be interesting.

Who knew?

PeppermintJim172 karma

That is more of a compliment than you know brother!

Life_in_the_tropics140 karma

What type of mint do you grow?

What is the best mint to ward off mosquitoes?

PeppermintJim293 karma

I grow a native spearmint and black mitcham peppermint. Both are great for warding off mosquitos. A few drops of oil in water will mask the pheromones that humans give off that signal a food source to mosquitos. Best regards, PJ

meadowiguana58 karma

Wait, a peppermint oil or just an olive oil?

PeppermintJim251 karma

Peppermint or spearmint oil! Olive oil might make you smell tasty! LOL

brehvgc129 karma

Is there any specific kind of soil nutrient that mint needs more than the average plant?

e: thank you for the response!

PeppermintJim196 karma

Not necessarily, but it likes a well drained soil. It doesn't like hard clay. Loves nitrogen! pH should be 5.5 to 6. And of course water! Mint is highly adaptable to its environment. Its also a shallow rooted plant. The roots only go down about 7-8 inches, and it loves to spread and spread! Best regards, PJ.

PerilousAll118 karma

Mint is notorious for spreading out from where you plant it. How do you keep the plants in a formation that you can harvest without wasting it?

PeppermintJim177 karma

Since the only thing we grow is mint, we don't have to worry about it growing into anything else, so it flourishes without much fuss. We do field work to keep it trim, one field for peppermint, one field for spearmint. Because the plants don't seed, they don't spread into each others fields. They over lap at the line a bit, but not too much.

OwenMerlock69 karma

Do the two types hybridize? How are there so many varieties of mint?

PeppermintJim245 karma

Peppermint is actually already a naturally occurring hybrid. It is a cross between watermint and spearmint. Another naturally occurring hybrid is gingermint! New varieties can be created naturally or synthetically. Best regards, PJ.

I_AM_GRUMPY109 karma

This is the neatest AMA I have read in a while :) thanks

PeppermintJim178 karma

You are very welcome brother! Stay minty!

PeppermintJim71 karma

You are very welcome brother! Stay minty!

Duke_Swillbottom100 karma

Is gingermint as wonderful as i now immediately want it to be?

PeppermintJim127 karma

I've never had the pleasure to try it myself. I for one also hope it is as wonderful as it sounds!

gunnsrevenge109 karma

Hey Peppermint Jim- I'm part of the Henning family! Nice AMA- I have fond memories of our old mint farm. I also lived down the street from Toddco in kzoo and could smell the Peppermint oil when they would process.

Did you family switch to sugar beet farming during WW2?

PeppermintJim146 karma

We did try sugar beets on a small acherage but it wasn't any fun so we stuck with mint! I have very fond memories of the Henning family and consider them part of my own kin. You have my very best regards, PJ.

deuszy85 karma

What is an interesting fact about mint that many people don't know about?

Also, how do people react when you tell them what your job is?

PeppermintJim158 karma

Funfact: A tbsp of our spearmint oil once flavored 130,000 sticks of chewing gum! To answer your second question, it depends. When I drive around in my business truck with our logo and info splashed all over it, its either to buy on the spot, ask where they can buy or thank me for providing for a past sale! That or what hour Guinness World Record was! Best regards, PJ.

I_AM_GRUMPY37 karma

Do you have a machine that concentrates it (how) ? How much spearmint goes into that tbsp of oil ?

PeppermintJim72 karma

The equipment and process have already been explain the comments on this thread. 4000lbs of mint equates to 3.5 gallons of oil. There are 896tbsp in 3.5 gallons. The math gets pretty crazy! Best regards, PJ.

MisterFribnab74 karma

In your P&L, what's your biggest cost? And how much of your business (on average) depends on government subsidies?

PeppermintJim188 karma

I recieve zero government subsidies, we work for every inch. Our highest cost is unmotivated personnel: meaning distributers who are late to market or just don't show, and employs that settle. And lets not forget the classic error of taking a step to the right when it should have been to the left! Best regards, PJ.

MisterFribnab87 karma

Interesting, thanks for your reply... One final follow-up question, if you didn't grow mint, is there another profitable and sustainable crop that interests you?

PeppermintJim521 karma

Well, they'd have to legalize it first! LOL but mint is plenty for me.

pickleman4271 karma

What world record do you currently hold?

PeppermintJim295 karma

Myself and my partner/life long friend, Chef Nick, are recognized and certified for this world record in four continents. We hold the record for the largest slab of fudge, half mint and half regular. The slab weighed 5060lb, was 38ft long, 14ft wide, and 13in thick. The whole ordeal took 72 hours straight to create it. Proceeds went to students who had lost scholarship during bubble burst of 08. I was told later that we had raised 2.5 million in donations. Best regards, PJ.

Pbjdonut65 karma

Spearmint is the greatest gum flavor ever in my opinion... Am I wrong?

PeppermintJim90 karma

You are absolutely right! Spearmint is a great flavor and a great scent! I use it quite regularly! Best regards, PJ.

mirkwoodgdp61 karma

From my experience, when mint grows well, it grows wildly. I haven't had that kind of success with my mint. Living in a Northeast climate, what can I do to make my mint grow better?

PeppermintJim159 karma

Mint loves to be cut! In fact, it has to be cut! Wait until it blossoms, then cut it right down to the earth. Mint grows from the root, not seeds, so the closer the sun can get to the root, the better it will grow. Once you cut it, you'll see tiny new parts of the plant that want to grow! Harvest is cutting it again, and letting it grow! Also, be mindful of any trees around them! Tree roots take up a lot of nutrients from the soil! Good luck, and best regards! PJ.

ChristianBMartone57 karma

I hope I'm not too late to ask, but do you have any problems with feral cats? A mint farmer near where I grew up hired people to chase away feral cats before harvest.

PeppermintJim100 karma

I have honestly never had a problem with that, though I can understand the connection! Mint and cat nip are from the same family! Best regards, PJ.

anomoly55 karma

On a whim I picked up a peppermint and orange mint plant this summer. Both have done well and I now plan on drying the peppermint as you described in another reply. Can I do the same with the orange mint and are there any specific uses that it would be good for?

PeppermintJim86 karma

I have tried to distill apple mint, and orange mint for oil. Both smell good and look good but I couldn't get any oil from them so I had to limit my contact with them. Unfortunately due to my limited exposure, I can't give you specific uses or methods for them :( Good luck and best regards, PJ.

cheesecleh53 karma

What is your dog's name?

PeppermintJim180 karma

Her name is Mojito! I actually found her in one of my mint fields while I was checking the crops. She was a year old when I found her. I gave her away once, but she came back to me so I took it as a sign! Best regards, PJ.

theloniouszen51 karma

Do you mainly sell to customers fresh or dried mint? Do your customers usually sell it as fresh mint (i.e. restaurants, grocery stores), dried mint for herb blends and tea, or are they doing solvent extractions to pull out the mint oils?

What kind of packaging do you do on site? Big huge bundles of mint? Or do you do clamshells for grocery stores?

Are there many other mint growers in southern Michigan? Is there anything specific about the mitten's climate that benefits mint production?

What's the biggest challenge facing mint or herb agriculture these days?

PeppermintJim94 karma

Oh boy brother, I'll do my best to to answer all your questions. * We sell directly to the consumer, not through any other means but our own. We do provide whole sale kits for the oil, but our fresh mint is not clamshelled and currently only sold in 1oz bundles. However in the very close furture we are poised to scale up. * Michigan, and US in general, has experienced a high decline in medium to small farms. As everything in agriculture, farms need to be on a larger and larger scale to produce on the corperate level, but at the same time we are steadily losing our connection to nature and purpose. * Midwestern mint production has always had a certain quality to its oil because of the region in which the plants are grown. The highly humid climate combined with the muck soil left in the wake of glacier beds makes excellent conditions for growth. * In my opinion, the biggest challenge facing mint agriculture today is lack of innovation and thinking outside the box. The focus is on cheaper, not better, sacrificing the whole for a piece etc. Thank you for your questions, and if you have anymore contact our farm via our website, facebook, or even just give us a call. Be regards, PJ.

RickShaw53051 karma

What is a most unusual use for mint that you'd recommend? There has to be a secret use that I've not heard of before.

PeppermintJim138 karma

Hemmeroids! Mix up a bit of olive oil and peppermint oil to tame the swelling and stop the itch! There's also the classic adult intimacy way to spin it. Premotes blood flow! LOL. Best regards, PJ.

Gayatri-Mantra46 karma

Hey Peppermint guy, thanks for all of your peppermint. I personally love to drink peppermint tea. Unfortunately I have a Hiatial hernia, ulcers and acid reflux and I have read online that I am suppose to avoid peppermint among other things, please tell me this is wrong and I can go on enjoying peppermint tea......please?

PeppermintJim136 karma

Unfortunatly what you've read is true. Peppermint is antispasmodic, which means the esophagus and everything in between relaxes and just makes it easier for that acid reflux to gurgle up :( . I personally use half a tsp of baking soda and 6oz of water. Stir until completely disolved and drink to combat acid reflux. It will immediately neutralize the acid burn. However, if youd dont want to give up you're tea completely, don't steep it as long! Go for the flavor and not the color of the tea. Good luck, and best regards! PJ.

PagingDoctorLove43 karma

What is the difference between mint and peppermint? The mint leaves I find at the store are always sweet mint, I honestly thought peppermint was just an artificial flavor.

PeppermintJim85 karma

Mint is an umbrella term and generally non specific. When used for cooking or garnish its common to use spearmint. Peppermint and spearmint are actually two different plants. What you find in most stores is spearmint. Its very rare that you find fresh peppermint. When you think of candy, you think peppermint! Best regards, PJ

forgiven7215 karma

Is there a way to distinguish spearmint from peppermint? I live in the northeast and have some growing along a small creek and I've been thinking about trying to cultivate it for tea. Are there any other novel uses outside of the culinary?

PeppermintJim41 karma

The simplest way to visually identify the plant is this: Spearmint has thin, spear shaped leaf with jagged edges and thin pink blossoms at the top. The leaves are also lighter green. Peppermint is dark green with a broard, rounded leaf and beautiful big purple blossoms at the top. Now this is important: when the mint blossoms, it is at the premium point in its cycle for harvest It will have the strongest flavor and produce the most oil.

deathgripsaresoft38 karma

What sorts of highs and lows does a 100 year old farm go through?

PeppermintJim144 karma

The loss of family members that had passed on the tradition, extreme weather that nearly wipes out the crop, losing everything and starting over, and crossroads in situations where everyone and everything is goading you to quit, but resolving that there is nothing that you want to do more than this. Quiting is the easiest, but it has never been an luxury for me. But it wasn't all storm clouds. Being part of a choice, impacting people positively through what we do, honoring and preserving the history, building a legacy and using our resources to help our community. Like mint, want mint? Use mint. My very best regards, PJ.

PrincePeppermint38 karma

[deleted]

PeppermintJim132 karma

Unfortunately, there are no current heirs. Maybe one day I'll adopt a prince or princess to take over! Requirements are respect for the environment, love for animals, and the wish to be a part of change for the common good. Best regards, PJ.

PrincePeppermint54 karma

[deleted]

PeppermintJim72 karma

No offense taken brother! Its only the truth. I have heard the middle east and eastern countries are more familiar with essential oils. We have a large clientele that use our oil exclusively.

kookingpot36 karma

I've spent a decent amount of time in the Middle East, where they have a drink that consists of crushed ice, lemonade and mint. It's fantastic. I've heard that this particular strain of mint is called Nana mint, and is a variety of spearmint. Can you get Nana mint in the states? Do you produce it?

PeppermintJim35 karma

I'm sorry, I'm actually not familar with the term Nana Mint, but if its a cousin to spearmint I'm sure its good! That drink sounds amazing. When I worked the farm a few years back we had big jugs of a similar kind of drink but we used whole spearmint leaves instead crushed. Best regards, PJ.

Birdwatchingyou35 karma

What is your favorite species of bird?

PeppermintJim89 karma

The favorite would have to be the Red tailed hawk. Growing up working the fields there was always a hawk that would circle above me hoping I'd kick out some field mice for a tasty meal! LOL The honorable mention is the morning dove. Every morning while my dad and I planned the day over coffee there were these two morning doves that just sat on the fence and talk to us. I've been from Michigan to Arizona and I feel like they've followed me everywhere I go! Best regards, PJ

lol_gay34 karma

Has your family ever made/distributed peppermint products such as peppermint candies or bark?

PeppermintJim65 karma

Yes! We've tried through other producers, and other small manufacturers, however the results were disappointing. The products were great but it wasn't cost effective. It is, however, on the future itinerary. Best regards, PJ.

tworollsonebee27 karma

Hi! What's your favorite way to use fresh mint?

PeppermintJim93 karma

I find fresh spearmint pairs well with olive oil, fresh garlic and vinegar for a salad dressing. Put fresh peppermint at the bottom of a cake pan, pour in chocolate cake mix and bake. The peppermint will rise into the cake as it bakes. Also, I haven't tried it, but I've heard that they both work great for juicing! Best regards, PJ

loxandchreamcheese24 karma

I'm intrigued by the cake idea... do you put whole leaves in or do you cut them into smaller pieces first? How much do you put in?

PeppermintJim42 karma

About a cup of whole leaves will work perfectly!

abbazabbbbbbba20 karma

Julep or mojito?

PeppermintJim118 karma

Both are fun. After the first two it doesn't matter! LOL Best regards, PJ

longtimegoneMTGO19 karma

How do you keep leaf miners out of the mint? Mine always gets infested.

PeppermintJim44 karma

Liquid soap and peppermint oil! Excellent pesticide and fungicide. Good luck and best regards, PJ.

Basdad19 karma

Is Wrigleys your biggest customer?

PeppermintJim69 karma

In 2003 we broke contacts with the mint brokers that control the flavoring, mint and pricing industies. In order to continue to exist we've had to go directly to the consumer via markets and festivals. Best regards, PJ.

marilynmonrobot19 karma

Hi there! I was surprised to learn just recently that Michigan (my home state) is a large supplier of mint. I think of mostly apples or cherries. I was wondering if your company gives tours to the public? I'd love to visit and learn more!

PeppermintJim17 karma

Unfortunately due to insurance liability issues we can't give tours. At once time at our Michigan location we did give mint tours in a hay-ride sort of setting, but that is no longer operational. We do have plans for both locations in the future so keep your eyes open! Best regards, PJ.

NuclearRabbits16 karma

Do you have any advice for fighting Mint Rust beyond avoiding overhead watering and flaming after cutbacks? Can you talk a bit about your distillation process and equipment? What do you do with your hydrosol? Thanks!

PeppermintJim44 karma

When rust occurs we have to cut right away otherwise the plant will simply dry up and blow away. The equipment used to harvest mint is generallly not any different than what is used to harvest hay or alfalfa, the only difference being we use steam boilers as a steam source. The mint is harvested onto a metal wagon and taken to the distillery. We clamp a cover over the wagon to seal it, and pump steam into it. After about 25 minutes the steam starts to extract the oil from the glands of the leaf. Afterwards the steam is pressued into coils that lead to a cold water condenser. Here, the steam is converted back into a liquid. The oil seperates from the water, floating on top where it is skimmed off, weighed and stored in a barrel. The hydrosol is generally run through a redistil to pull out any remaining oil. Best regards, PJ.

Jimihendrix2516 karma

Can you Forrest Gump style describe every use of mint you can think of?

PeppermintJim33 karma

LOL been told that before! Suffice to say, if you can think of it, chances are you can add it. I'm not responsible for anything that tastes or smells bad though! Best regards, PJ.

OwenMerlock14 karma

If I wanted to plant a variety to take over my yard what should I plant? Zone 9, afternoon sun.

PeppermintJim34 karma

I would use spearmint! You'll love it. It will adapt to virtually any environment! Best regards, PJ.

DelaCruza13 karma

What's the hardest thing about Peppermint Farming?

PeppermintJim29 karma

The hardest thing about mint farming is running from the front to the middle to the back. We've constantly making improvements, and the juggle can be challenging! Best regards, PJ

LominAle13 karma

I have a potted mint plant (unsure of which type) in my house. After an initial battle with some parasites, the plant is now growing very quickly and spreading out nicely, but it just doesn't taste very minty anymore. Any idea if the mintiness will return or will it just not be a very flavorful plant?

PeppermintJim30 karma

The minty flavor should return. Be wary of tap water. Rain water is th best! Good luck and best regards, PJ.

Swimmingindiamonds12 karma

What is your favorite way to use mint in food...

In savory? And in sweet?

PeppermintJim32 karma

For savory I like to use the spearmint in salad dressings, glazes and sauces (always with a heaping helping of fresh garlic!). For sweet, peppermint all the way from lemonade and water to chocolate! In another comment on this thread I talk about making the dressing and baking peppermint into a cake! Best regards, PJ.

RachieeMariee11 karma

How's your breath?

PeppermintJim36 karma

Minty fresh! LOL

cheezburgercats10 karma

I once had a customer grow peppermint in their garden in order to spread in between the other vegetation to prevent weeds filling the space. What are your thoughts on this strategy?

PeppermintJim22 karma

My advise would actually be to keep it to the outside and try not to let it mingle with other plants. A barrier around nine inches deep will keep them seperate. Anything less and the mint will grow under and continue to spread. It has a tendency to choke out any plants around it. It is a good way to end up with a mint field though LOL Good luck and best regards, PJ.

Memoryautofill9 karma

You have any favorite home remedies with mint in them?

PeppermintJim49 karma

Of course! Take a drop of peppermint oil to a tooth infection. It takes pressure off the nerve endings and stops the tooth from hurting! Use it during cold or flu season too! A bit under the bridge of each nostil and a drop on the tip of the tongue will buffer from air borne illness! You can also put a drop on a q-tip to swirl around inside your ear, and just behind your ear to ease the burn of an ear ache. It will also stimulate the infection to drain! Best regards, PJ.

CascadianMan9 karma

Know any mint farmers from Independence Oregon? Know the lady who invented the cube gum with the mint jelly inside? How did you survive not being bought out by Wrigley?

PeppermintJim24 karma

Unfortunately, I've not had the pleasure of meeting any farmers from Independence, nor have I met that clever lady with the neat invention. We did sell our spearmint oil to Wrigley for a single year in the 30's, however the majority of oil production is controled by brokers and on the grand scope our operation didn't matter to them. Everything they use now involves farming on a corperate level. Best regards, PJ

edit spelling! No Freudian slips LOL

Whereruchristmas9 karma

Do you own the mint fields that surround Uncle John's Cider Mill? I'm flying home to Michigan next week and am excited to go again. Those mint fields were a childhood memory of mine. :)

PeppermintJim15 karma

Unfortunatly those fields aren't mine, but they're definitely good memories to have! Have a safe flight and best regards, PJ.

iepxs8 karma

What are your thoughts on GMO and Organic vs. Conventional farming?

PeppermintJim35 karma

Most conventional farming now-a-days is genetically modified cash crop. I'm completely for organic farming! There is more heart in the work behind organic farming than in GMO production. With GMO and Conventional Farming they use various pesticides and herbicides, which is full of chemicals that effect our environment; birds, bees, the soil itself! Best regards, PJ.

jamesornames3128 karma

What's your favorite type of mint?

PeppermintJim30 karma

I'd have to say peppermint because it's cool sensation, crisp taste, and always reminds me of home. Best regards, PJ.

adithyashok6 karma

Would you want your descendants to be peppermint farmers too?

PeppermintJim23 karma

Yes, if it was in their hearts. It would connect them to everyone who came before them. Best regards, PJ.

mm4333 karma

How much of your mint do you sell, and how much do you keep?

Follow-Up: What companies do you sell to?

PeppermintJim4 karma

The goal is to sell it all! The more I sell, the more we expand. We are self funded, and we sell directly to the customer!