When I was growing up, my uncle Richard farmed mint. In the late summer, he and his crew would mow the mint fields like hay and collect the leaves in enclosed wagons, then drive them down to the still, where they would seal them and pump them full of steam. The steam caused the oil in the leaves to turn to vapor, which re-liquefied when pushed through a condenser.
I have memories of driving out to the farm when Richard was distilling that season's crop into oil, catching whiffs of the mint on the air miles before we arrived. Then we'd pile in the farm truck and head down the dirt roads to the still, the mint essence becoming stronger and stronger until we were finally lifted over the boiling vat for the most intense sensory experience. One inhalation of the mint oil completely cleared out our sinuses and must have prevented us from catching the cold through the winter — a special Indiana farm remedy.
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