6 ideas for using your lavender harvest
If you’ve been following us this gardening season, you know I’m not very happy with my yard. Hillside gardening leaves a lot to be desired! Since I’ve promised not to whine, but make the best of it, I found a reason today to look on the bright side of things. Lavender!
Thank you Lorraine for putting those beautiful lavender plants at the end of the garden area. I must admit that last year I didn’t harvest one handful of lavender from them. Shame on me! Because harvesting lavender is really easy and you get such a reward from growing something that you don’t have to fuss over.
There are many types of lavender. Some get long stalks. Some get really big flower heads. Some are taller than others. All lavender is fragrant. In fact, lavender is known medicinally to sooth and calm and nerves. It is also antiseptic and makes a good addition to your herbal first aid kit.
Now is the time for Harvesting Lavender:
May, June and July are the months for lavender in the Pacific Northwest. If you want to encourage growth for next year, you need to harvest this years stems. By the third and fourth year, your lavender plant will fully mature and bring you the potential of hundreds of blooms. A plant, properly cared for will live about 10 years.
The best time to harvest lavender is in the morning, when the plant is dry and the sun is less intense. This preserves more of the essential oil in the blossoms.
// rubber bands
// paper clips
// a large flat sheet
// lavender to harvest
- Cut a bundle of lavender from your plant. You don’t have to to be gentle with it, just grab a bit and cut, moving along the plant. Just be sure to leave a few inches of green growth on the plant. This is actually good for it, but going down to the woody portion of the stem is too extreme.
- When you have enough blossoms to fill your hand, wrap a rubber band around the bottom of the bundle. Some people cut the bottom off all pretty – I didn’t.
- Open a small paper clip and use it as a hook to hang the lavender bundle upside down in a dark, dry place. The darkness will help the lavender retain its color, and drying it upside down helps lavender retain its blossom shape.
- Let the lavender dry for about a week until there is no moisture remaining on the stems in the center of the bundle.
Now the fun part, decide what to use your lavender harvest for.
- // Leave your lavender on the stems and used it dried for bouquets.
- // Make lavender wands – these sell for big bucks in specialty stores!
- // Take the buds off the stems and make sachets. Once they are dried, running your hand down the stalk will take the flowers right off. Keep the dried stalks to burn for incense.
- // Use lavender in a soothing, calming bath to relieve tension, stress and insomnia. Just place a handful in a muslin bag and add it to the water.
- // Store the blossoms in a mason jar and use for future culinary delights. Toni’s to-die-for lavender shortcake cookie recipe is below.
- // Make an antiseptic spritzer. 7 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon lavender infused witch hazel, 5-10 drops of lavender essential oil – all placed in a 4 oz spray bottle.
Dried lavender will keep its scent for at least a year. I have some in a sachet that is at least 5 years old and still going strong!
- 3 sticks butter at room temperature
- 1 1/3 C. Sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 3 eggs
- 2 Tbsp. Vanilla
- Interior scrapings of 1/2 vanilla bean (optional, but yummy if on hand)
- 3 3/4 C. flour
- 3 heaping Tbsp. dried lavender buds (more or less in your next batch depending on how much you like lavender!)
- Mix butter, sugar & salt on med. speed til well creamed.
- Add eggs one at a time till well mixed.
- Add vanilla and lavender.
- Scrape down bowl and slowly mix in flour till incorporated.
- Form dough into logs (you should have 4-5) the size you want cookies to be. These are rich, so small to medium size logs are good.
- Wrap and chill 4 hours or over night.
- Slice logs into 1/4 inch slices
- Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes or till edges are just turning golden.
- Logs can be put in Ziploc bags and frozen to bake as wanted.