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LH 61: Growing & Preserving with Lavender

How to Harness the Flavor of Lavender & Add It To Your Preserves

When people grow lavender, they typically think of using it in fragrance projects like potpourri or soap.

But lavender it a great seasoning in the kitchen and even can be used to flavor your jams, jellies and fruit preserves like whole apricots or peaches!

In this podcast episode and show notes (below), you will learn:

  • Which lavender I think has the best flavor
  • The benefits of having this herb in your garden & home
  • The basic things you need to do to grow it well
  • How to make and cook with Lavender Salt
  • A simple recipe for Lavender Sugar
  • How to make Lavender Honey
  • The important safety concerns with flavoring honey
  • 2 simple ways to add lavender flavor to your preserves
  • And so much more!

Benefits of Lavender:

From a fragrance standpoint, lavender has many amazing qualities.

It’s soothing, relaxing and even helps relieve headaches and induce sleep. That’s why you see it used so much in aromatherapy and massage therapy. And medicinally it is also used as an anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial.

It is also common scent in soap, lotion and bath salts.

From a flavor standpoint, lavender is very unique. And in fact, not every likes lavender as a flavoring! But I find that is usually because people use too much of it.

If you use a light hand, lavender has a nice, light floral flavor. It sort of tastes the same as it smells.

It combines well with fruit – especially citrus. It is a common flavoring in sweet deserts. And it is absolutely heavenly in lemonade!

Lavender is also commonly used as a savory seasoning as part of the herb blend called Herbs of Provence (which is usually a combo of savory herbs such as thyme, sage and savory).

So it has a lot of uses.

I love lavender and I sometimes toss it into jams and jellies to give a new twist to an otherwise plain preserve.

There are MANY lavenders to grow. But in the kitchen, my favorite lavender is Lavendula angustifolia which is English lavender.

It has the strongest essential oils with the best flavoring and is my first choice whenever possible.

 

Growing Lavender:

Common lavender which is also known as English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is fairly easy to grow – unless you live in a very humid climate.

If you have humidity, you can have issues with powdery mildew and your lavender may not fair too well. You can still grow lavender – but you may have to treat it as an annual and replant it every year rather than keep the same plant year after year.

Lavender is a Mediterranean herb and it does best in a warm, dry climate. It is a drought-tolorant plant. It does best when neglected – meaning that you don’t need to over water it. If you have a dry climate, you can plant it and forget it most of the time.

English lavender is hardy to zone 5 and will survive winter if you mulch it well. If you have a long, hard winter, you can pot it up and move it indoors.

Lavender Salt

I use lavender salt on roasted chicken, grilled fish, chocolate recipes, and caramel desserts. It is not a very common flavoring – but it is easy to make and fun to play with.

To 3/4 cup of Kosher salt, mix in 1 heaping tablespoon of fresh or dried lavender flowers. The reason you can get away with using fresh is because the salt will dry it out without any problems.

Place the mixture in an airtight canning jar wit a lid (or other type of jar) and let it set for at least 1 week. (I usually wait for 2 weeks).

Then whenever you need it, simply open the jar and sprinkle the seasoned salt on your food. The lavender flavor is subtle but hard to describe.

If you want to get fancy, add a slice of lemon zest to the salt as well. Then you have a lavender/lemon salt that is to die for!

Lavender Sugar

Like lavender salt, this sugar is easy to make and easy to use. However, it is usually made with white granulated sugar.

Personally, I like Lavender Honey (below) as a sweetener.

But if you want to make Lavender Sugar to sprinkle over cookies, use as a sweetener in ice tea or in your desert recipes, then here’s how you do it.

Combine 1 cup granulated sugar with 1 Tbsp dried lavender. Place it in a small canning jar, cover and let it sit for at least 1 week before using.

If you wish to use fresh lavender, I like to wait 1 day after picking before adding it to the sugar. This is because it may be wet with morning dew or other moisture and that little bit of moisture can cause the sugar to clump up as you season it.

So you CAN use fresh lavender. You just need to let it air dry 24 hours before adding it into the sugar.

Lavender Honey:

This is another super easy method for capturing the delicate floral flavor of lavender in a way that can be added to other foods, desserts and beverages.

Start with a honey that you like. All honeys have a slightly different flavor depending upon what the bees where harvesting from.

If you have a nice honey without a strong flavor of anything in particular, it is a great choice for flavoring with lavender.

Simply take about 8 ounces of honey and place it in a small (heavy-bottomed) sauce pan. The reason you want a heavy-bottomed pan is to prevent the honey from getting scorched as you heat it.

Take about 3 Tbsp. of dried* lavender and place it in a small cloth, drawstring tea bag or a small square of cheesecloth tied up with cotton string.

Add the lavender to the honey and turn the heat on low.

Stay close by and stir occasionally for about 5 minutes. You want to get the honey warmed, but too hot.

As soon as your honey is warm to the touch, turn off the heat. Cover the sauce pan and let the mixture sit for 30-60 minutes until completely cool.

At this point, pull out the lavender and place the finished lavender honey in a clean canning jar with a lid or other container with a tight fitting lid.

You may store the lavender honey at room temperature in the cupboard.

* Infused honey safety:  It is important to note that it is safe to infuse honey with herbs (like lavender) as long as you use dried herbs and not fresh. The reason is that although honey usually has a pH below 4.6, it can sometimes be higher. So in addition to the pH, another factor that keeps honey from producing the botulism toxin is the fact that honey has a low water activity. As long as you only add dry ingredients, you should not affect that water activity. And that keeps it safe for room temperature storage. For more information on this, see the link in the Resources section below.

Canning with Lavender

It can be really fun to flavor things like jams, jellies or even whole preserves with lavender. But it can also be a bit tricky.

Do you add them whole? How much do you add? What if you only want the flavor but not the floating bits? How do you control the depth of flavor?

Well to answer all those questions, I put together a FREE downloadable tip sheet for you.

It walks you through the options of flavoring your preserves with lavender. It covers the different methods and the pros/cons of each.

To get your copy of my Canning with Lavender Tip Sheet, just click the box below!

 

 

Resources & Links Mentioned:

Infused Honey Safety

Canning Academy

 

Transcript:

Click here for the full transcript for Episode #61

 

Other Episodes You Might Like:

Episode 49 – Growing and Drying Herbs

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About the Author:

Theresa Loe is the founder of Living Homegrown® and the Canning Academy® and is the Co-Executive Producer & Canning Expert on the national PBS gardening series, Growing A Greener World®. Theresa homesteads on just 1/10th of an acre in Los Angeles with her husband, two teenage boys and several disorderly but totally adorable chickens. Learn more about Living Homegrown here and about the Canning Academy here.

6 Comments:

  • Candace says:

    Heating up honey to high heat destroys many of its beneficial qualities. Better to make an infusion of this and add it pure unheated honey. Here at New England Tonic we love to use lavender in our summer drinks.

    • theresa says:

      You are correct Candace. Heat will destroy enzymes and probiotics. I heat the honey for two reasons: I usually use the honey in hot foods or drizzled over hot foods which means the beneficial qualities are lost anyway. And heating adds the flavor quickly. But you are absolutely correct – honey is always best in the raw state. And you defeat the purpose when you heat it. So a cold infusion would be better option. I’m not sure how long it would take to infuse the lavender flavor cold – Do you know a time frame?
      T

  • Rhonda says:

    This was a fun and interesting segment. I live on the central coast California and there is lavender everywhere! So, these were good ideas and very timely since everything is blooming or just about done blooming in my area. Ideas for other segments would be: Shrubs; tinctures; bitters etc.

  • Mona says:

    I took a class on canning whole tomatoes last fall and learned that it is also nice to add one sprig of lavender to each pint jar when canning fresh tomatoes. Very subtle flavor but delicious.

  • Renee Mustard says:

    Simply my favorite episode of yours! You instilled my love for lavender probably in the early 80’s when you were filming those first videos! I am downloading everything from this episode. I love your podcast. I listen to you while I work. Hee hee……. I can’t wait to try some of these wonderful ways to use lavender. My favorite herb!

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