National Lavender Day is June 29. In honor of this widely celebrated and universally beloved holiday, we deemed it time to share a timely tip on one way to use lovely lavender.
Why is it Called Lavender?
The name of the plant is derived from the Latin “lavare,” meaning to wash. Leaves and flowers have been used for several millennia to do just that, wash. Fragrant baths, hair rinses, to cleanse and treat skin ailments, and, in the past, to help eliminate lice and bedbugs from the household. Back in the ages when humans only washed for ritual occasions (like getting married or buried) lavender was frequently added to the bathing water.
Lavender in the Southwest
There is a native desert lavender shrub (Condea emoryi) which can be used in the same manner as any other lavender.
Growing the plants? That’s the kind of topic covered on Gardening With Soule. In fact, here is Dr. Soule’s post on Growing Lavender in the Southwest.
Both native and imported lavenders have a delightful fragrance. This is perhaps the most appreciated part of the herb, but there is so much more to enjoy than scent alone.
The flowers of both native and European lavenders join our wealth of edible flowers. All species can be used to make a delightful jelly. Lavender tea is nice when you want something without caffeine. We make and enjoy lavender syrup on our “dutch baby” pancakes, or a dash in the morning yogurt. The flowers can be candied and sprinkled on desserts like fruit salad or ice cream. And yes, the delicate flavor of the blooms can be infused into honey.
Currently, lavender essential oil is popular in aromatherapy. Tea made from leaves and flowers has been used to treat sleeplessness, restlessness, headache, flatulence, and “nervous stomach.” At this time, Commission E, a German-based group which scientifically studied herbal medicines, recommends using lavender for insomnia, circulatory, and gastrointestinal disorders.
Harvest stalks of lavender blooms as the lower-most flowers open. This gives you buds with optimum fragrance. Dry these, like all herbs, out of direct sunlight.
For Culinary Use
You can use fresh or dried lavender flowers for culinary uses. Use the leaves as well, but the flavor can be a tad bitter.
Lavender Infused Honey
You need three things. Honey, lavender, and time. Three weeks minimum, but 3 months is even better.
The official recipe is 3 tablespoons dried lavender to 1 cup honey.
If using fresh lavender, use 6 tablespoons.
This infused honey will be used in a future post by Uncle Smokey featuring a barbecue sauce that is free of that red member of the deadly nightshade family (tomatoes).
We have two posts about lavender infused honey on our YouTube channel. Here is Part I.
Science Nerd Note
There’s a good rule of thumb to remember!
Use half as much dried herbs as fresh ones. Because once any herb is dried, it will take up less volume.
Here’s The Cookbook!
May we suggest our dandy little cookbook? Using Honey in New and Savory Ways offers 36 pages of tips for using honey in your cooking, as well as in all manner of dishes. A steal at only $6!
We hope you will help support some local Southwest folks!
From the review:
“Honey is for more than desserts and this book can help! Using honey in cooking savory dishes helps engage all your taste buds and adds a layer of added flavor to everyday dishes – plus holiday fare.”
Beekeeper? We offer volume discounts – because if you sell honey in local markets you might want to offer some of these books as well.
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The authors of this website have researched the edibility of the materials we discuss, however, humans vary in their ability to tolerate different foods, drinks, and herbs. Individuals consuming flowers, plants, animals or derivatives mentioned in this blog do so entirely at their own risk. The authors on this site cannot be held responsible for any adverse reaction. In case of doubt please consult your medical practitioner.