Lavender is lovely and fragrant – and abundant at this time of year. It’s wonderful to just pick a few stalks and have their lovely scent waft through your home, but there are also some delicious and healthful ways to use the flower. In addition to being a source of honey and an additive for teas and other herbal concoctions, it also has use as a calming and anti-inflammatory agent. It’s been an ingredient in fine (mostly French) cuisine for centuries.
- Thanks to Kerrin Hetrick-Friese for the lovely lavender photo!
Lavender plants flourish best where it is dry and warm, so once you pick it, all you have to do to dry it is literally have to leave it out for a couple of days — sometimes even less than that. Dried or fresh lavender buds work equally well in this recipe, but the fresh buds result in a more purple tone to your finished product. If you use dried lavender, the taste and quality is the same, but you may want to add food coloring to make it a little more lavender in color (say, for a cocktail or dessert), otherwise it has a dark maroon, almost brown, color.
Or you can fool them all with a purple-tinted glass! Haha!
This is a truly excellent cocktail. Shake one part syrup (recipe follows) to two parts vodka over ice and strain into a glass. Garnish with rosemary or other fresh flowers. The fragrance of rosemary offsets the lavender perfectly.
- You can use dried or fresh lavender for this recipe.
This syrup is very simple to make and can be used with cocktails and delicious summer drinks — try a few spoonfuls in a pitcher of iced tea or lemonade for a dash of sweetness and flowery flavor. Or enjoy it drizzled over ice cream or a nice warm pound cake. I have also heard that a spoonful before bed helps you to relax and sleep without the need of prescriptions or medicines. If you have trouble sleeping — or maybe just need to mellow out after a long day — try a spoonful of this syrup, by itself or in a drink or dessert.
1 cup lavender flowers
2 cups water
2 cups sugar
Bring the flowers and water to a boil in a pot, and allow to simmer for about 3-5 minutes. Strain the flowers out of the pan (a slotted spoon works well for fresh flowers, but if you use dried flowers you may want to strain this through a cheesecloth or jelly bag to get all the buds out) and add sugar. Simmer over medium high heat until the mixture reaches a syrup-like consistency (about 10-12 minutes). Allow to cool completely before putting it into a storage container (I bought a syrup bottle and made the project into an homage to my favorite hip-hop group). If you decide to can them, use a pressure canner to seal the jars.