Mint production in Idaho began in the late 1940’s with production ramping up in the 1950’s. Today Idaho Mint growers raise about 17,000 acres of mint annually (16,000 acres of peppermint and 1,000 acres of spearmint). Currently Idaho ranks #2 in U.S. peppermint production and #4 in U.S. spearmint production. Idaho Mint growers produce about 1.8 million pounds of mint oil annually.
Mint is harvested between early July and mid-September (depending upon the variety). The oil from the mint leaf is extracted through a steam distillation process. About 100 pounds of mint oil is harvested per acre of mint that is grown in Idaho. Due to our dry climate and unique growing conditions Idaho mint oils are some of the best in the world and highly sought after by companies who use mint oils to flavor products. About 90% of all mint oil is used to flavor gum, candy and other confectionaries, and toothpaste. The remaining 10% is used for medicinal purposes. One drop of mint oil will flavor seven packs of chewing gum.