Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Drying and storing lavender

There is nothing I love more that picking fresh lavender and drying the flowers. I like to use the lavender flowers to make lavender sugar, butter, icing and cookies. Here is how to dry and store lavender flowers for cooking or making potpourri. English lavender is the best plant for fragrance, however Italian lavender flowers keep their purple colour best after dried. So I use English lavender for cooking and Italian lavender for fragrance satchels. You will notice the different purple buds from the two different varieties in the photos.

How to sun dry lavender flower buds: 
Step 1: Collect the lavender flowers on the stem from your lavender bushes. Before you start make sure that you pick the lavender flowers when they are dry and free from dew or rain drops. Cut at the base of the stems to preserve as much stem as possible.

A) Leave about 10cms or 3 inches on the stem so you can ties them up and hang to dry. Let them hang and dry for 4 to 6 weeks in a dry spot.
B) Lay the lavender on a block of wood or baking tray. I normally line the tray with aluminium foil. Line a baking tray with aluminium foil or baking paper. Place lavender flower buds on a baking tray 2cm deep or less. A cutting board or another large piece of wood is perfect for drying lavender in the sun.
Step 2: Place the lavender in a sunny spot. Move the tray or wood block to a place that gets plenty of sun, either indoors or outdoors. Drying lavender this way is a much quicker process than drying it in the dark, but be prepared for the sun to fade the lavender to a very pale purple colour.

It is recommended that you choose a hot day or somewhere that is warm and dry for the lavender to sit while it dries. If you are leaving the tray outside on a hot day, ensure that you take the tray inside before the cool night air reaches it.


Step 3: It should take under a week for the hot sun to dry the lavender. Check every few days to see whether the lavender is dry.
Step 4: Allow the sun to completely dry the lavender. Once the lavender buds have been left to dry for a few days, you should start to see and feel that the flowers are dry.

Step 5: To check if the lavender flower buds are dry, check if the petals crumble easily. Once the petals are dry, you can simply peel them of the stems with your fingers. I normally let them dry for another day or so to remove any remnant moisture.  

Harvesting the dried lavender buds

Step 1: Once they are dry, pull the flowers off and put into a large bowl.

Step 2:  I don’t use the stems as I use the lavender mainly for cooking, but I know people that do for potpourri.

I compost the dried stems. However some people like to keep them or place them in the chicken coop to keep pests away.

Step 3: Once you have the lavender flowers in a bowl decide how you are going to use them.

Cooking lavender: If you are using them for cooking put the lavender flowers  in an airtight glass jar. I use the lavender flowers to make lavender sugar, lavender butter, lavender icing, lavender cordial, lavender cookies and cakes. I have a friend who even makes lavender salt – I’m still not too sure about that!  
Here are my dried lavender flowers, dried basil leaves and dried rosemary leaves in airtight glass jars.

Potpourri lavender: Make sure this is what you want; as you can NOT cook once you make the following changes. If you wish to make potpourri, add dried Orris root to preserve the amount of lavender essential oil and fresh smell in the flowers. Then you can also add a few drops of fresh lavender essential oil to boost the fragrance. I use my fingers mix it through the flowers. You should not digest the flowers once this is done. I then place the lavender flowers in organza bags and put them in our clothing drawers.
A few years ago I even let my grade one class (6/7 year olds) help we make lavender potpourri as a unit of inquiry activity. They all got to take home 1 organza bag full of dried lavender flowers.
Lavender Soap: My friend who is very good at making soap suggested that next time we make soap like this one I got at the market a few weeks ago.
Step 4: Enjoy the dried lavender flowers in your cooking or your fresh smelling drawers. 
If you enjoyed this post, keep updated via social media:
Lady Creativity

No comments:

Post a Comment

Share this