In the fall you go apple picking, in the summer you go Lavender picking. Okay no, not really. During the summer most people go pick strawberries, blueberries, or basically any type of berry. However, the summer is also the time to pick lavender! Now there aren’t lavender fields in every town but they also aren’t as scarce as one might think. Many regions have lavender festivals and some local places have a ‘U-Pick’ time period. Luckily, there is a lavender farm about ten minutes from my home so when they announced they were hosting another picking event I was ready to buy my ticket!
Many people think lavender is just a great scent for things like perfume, laundry detergent, or lotion. But lavender is so much more than a scent that smells good. The essential oils extracted from lavender are known to have very calming affects on people. Lavender also, surprisingly, tastes really good and refreshing. Drinks, sweets, even meat-it has a great flavor and can be used in so many different ways.
So, with that being said, after you’ve picked your lavender (or bought the pre-picked bundles; no judgment) you might be wondering what the heck to do with it. Well I’ve laid out how to care for your fresh lavender, some arts and crafts ideas, and some of my favorite lavender recipes.
Caring for your lavender
Basically it comes down to if you want to keep your lavender fresh or if you want to dry it. If you want your lavender fresh you’ll want to keep it in a small amount of water, change the water DAILY, and the lavender should stay fresh for 1-2 weeks. If you’re wanting to dry your lavender (best for crafts and culinary) it’s really quite simple. Your bundle should already be tied in a rubber band. Next step is to hang your bundle upside down in a dark space. Personally, I used my closet and tied a ribbon to the rubber band and tied the ribbon to a hanger towards the bottom of my closet. Since what you’re essentially drying out is the buds, you’ll want to keep a towel under the bundle to catch the buds that fall. After you leave the bundle this way for 10-14 days. Now depending on what exactly you want to do with your lavender will depend on what to do next. If you want to use your lavender for cooking then you will need to gently pick all the buds off and keep them in a brown or dark blue glass container. As long as you keep the buds in the container in a dry/dark place they should be good for 5-10 years! Just put them in a grinder when you plan on using them.
Arts & Crafts
One of my favorite seasonal decorations is a good ole wreath. Buying a fancy wreath with all the bells and whistles can be some serious $$$ so I enjoy making my own with what I have/what’s on sale. About a year ago I got a plain vine wreath at Trader Joe’s for $3.99 in October. I had used it as just a plain wreath for Fall-but with all my new lavender…I thought I would fix it up. Personally, I waited until it was dried out before I used it but basically I just took the dried lavender (stems and all) and worked them through the vines of the wreath. Don’t be afraid to be generous, the more lavender you add the better! The great thing about this wreath is that every time I walk in the door I get a big whiff of lavender and it is the perfect way to come home after a long day.
Another super easy craft idea is making sachets out of your lavender. Just take the dry buds off the stems and put them in a cotton drawstring bag. These are so easy to make and really just allow the fragrance from the lavender to keep a space smelling great. These are great for putting in your car, your dresser drawers, or even in your linen closet!
Everything from sweets to drinks, you name it and there is a lavender recipe for it. Below I’ve listed a variety of some of my favorite lavender recipes to try out!
¼ cup Lavender Syrup (listed below)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 lemon peels
¼ cup of vodka
1/3 cup of champagne
Pour lavender syrup, lemon juice, and vodka in a shaker and shake well. Distribute between two martini glasses. Top each glass with champagne and a lemon peel!
Lavender Simple Syrup: Boil 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small saucepan until the sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and slowly stir in 2 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender buds and 1 small strip of lemon zest. Steep for about twenty minutes and strain the contents into a small container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate!
Chocolate Lavender Brownies
1 teaspoon dried culinary lavender buds
3 cups sugar
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cups + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon instant espresso or coffee powder
3 sticks unsalted butter
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees and butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.
Place lavender buds and 1 tablespoon of sugar in a grinder and finely grind the mixture. Put the lavender mixture in a large bowl and add flour, cocoa, salt, espresso/coffee powder, and the remaining sugar. Mix well.
In a separate bowl, soften butter until almost melted. Whisk in eggs and vanilla.
Make a well opening in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Mix well using a wooden spoon and add in the nuts if using. Pour mixture into the baking dish and smooth out. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out of the center mostly clean.
Lavender Honey Marinade
½ cup honey
¼ cup dried culinary lavender buds (finely ground in a spice grinder)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 ½ tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon fresh tangerine juice
2 tablespoons minced garlic
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a small bowl mix together the honey, lavender, vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice, tangerine juice, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper.
In a gallon sized Ziploc bag, put chicken or shrimp. Pour marinade in Ziploc bag, making sure to push all the air out before closing completely. Make sure the marinade is distributed evenly over the meat, and place refrigerate for up to 4 hours. (The longer you refrigerate, the more the marinade will be absorbed into the meat) Remove meat from bag and grill or bake. Pour remaining marinade from bag on top of meat halfway through cooking to ensure extra flavor.