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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Lavender Love

I've been growing lavender for the past 4 years in my herb garden. I just love the colorful pops of purple growing through the parsley this time of year! I also dug some up and planted it in some pots around the yard just to insert a little color in all the green expanse of the dogwood and lawn.
I had quite a few questions on what to do with lavender during the garden tour last weekend, so I thought I'd share a couple of ideas with you. Many people grow lavender in Klamath Falls because it is one of the very few things that the deer won't eat...and chickens don't care for it, either!
So, I cut all the purple stems I could find, and gently rinsed them. Then, I laid them out on a clean kitchen towel and placed them in trays in a sunny location. I dry herbs in the house because it gets chilly and moist outside at night here in the summer.
When the stems are completely dry (at least a week) I gently remove the purple flower heads.
At this point, you can store them in clean jars for later use.
One of my favorite ways to use dried lavender is as a natural dryer cloth! Take a couple of tablespoons of the dried flowers, place them in a small, clean cotton or muslin bag and tie the top tightly. Toss it in with your clothes in the dryer. It's a natural softener and it gives the clothes a fresh light scent!

I also make lavender sugar for sweet iced tea. Take 2 tablespoons of dried lavender flowers and wrap in cheesecloth or another of those little cotton bags. Bury it in a canister of sugar and close tightly. After two weeks, remove the bag of lavender and you will have a lightly scented sugar. Well, that's one method, but I'm too impatient for that! Shoot, two weeks is half the summer! What I REALLY do is take 1 teaspoon of lavender flowers and toss it in a food processor with 1 cup of sugar. I process it for at least a minute to make a very fine sugar that is loaded with lavender flavor! Keep in a tightly closed bin or in a plastic baggie. Yes, you will have some little floating pieces of lavender in your tea, but it's worth it!

My latest recipe came from a friend who posted an intriguing cocktail on Facebook using lavender- a lavender/blueberry mojito. I decided that I could use the lavender simple syrup in lots of ways, so I made a jar!

First, I added one cup of sugar to one cup of water in a heavy bottom pan. Bring it to a boil and add 1 cup of lavender flowers...and stems, if you have saved them. Stems have a lot of flavor, too!
Let it boil for at least 5 minutes, until all the sugar is dissolved and the liquid is clear.
Turn off the heat and let it cool slightly. Don't chill it or it will be impossible to strain!
Strain and continue to let it cool.

Pour into a clean mason jar and store in the refrigerator. It will keep for a week...if it lasts that long :)

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