The lavender is blooming and ready to be harvested! Picking lavender can be very time-consuming when you pick one stem at a time. You know it’s ready to be picked when the buds mature and swell and perhaps one or two of the buds are just opening. If you wait to pick lavender until it’s in full bloom and dry it to use later for sachets and what-not, you’ll find that all the blooms will fall off the stem. Like most herbs, it’s best to pick early in the morning after the dew has evaporated. So pick, pick, pick and gather into bundles about 1-1/2 inch in diameter and secure the bundle with a rubber band. To air dry, hang the bundle of lavender upside down in a dimly lit room (ie. out of direct sunlight) with good air circulation. Once dried, the lavender buds can be removed from the stems and stored for later use. HINT: If you pick your lavender, you’ll get a second bloom later in the season!
Of course, there’s many uses for fresh-picked lavender too! Lavender wands must be made with fresh PLIABLE lavender in order to bend the stems over to create the typical ‘cage’ that hold the buds. Also, treat yourself to a relaxing spa-treatment by hanging a fresh-picked bundle under the faucet as you’re filling the tub. Or, infuse a bit of organically grown lavender into iced tea or lemonade. Many herbs are most often added to recipes in the form of a “tea”. Place the herb (flowers and leaves) into a pan of boiling water. Cover the pan with a lid and remove from the heat. Allow the herbs to “infuse” or steep their aromatic goodness into the tea for 20 minutes. Strain and your tea is ready for use.
Remember to always use organically grown, chemical-free herbs for any culinary use! As you can see from the picture, I just baked a batch of my lavender cookies using my fresh-picked lavender. I usually use an English lavender, such as Munstead or Hidcote for my culinary dishes. Any basic sugar cookie recipe will do – and any herb will provide a variety of delightful flavors! I developed my lavender cookie recipe thru trial and error – I never heard any complaints from my family… and I’ve been serving them to guests at Sheepy Hollow during various events (garden walks, open house, workshops, etc.) . I now offer the recipe in my little book “So You Planted an Herb Garden and Don’t Know What To Do With Them?” that’s for sale in my shop (Sheepy Hollow Herbs, LLC). This batch of lavender cookies will be offered to guests as refreshments along with other goodies at the Romeo Garden Walk visting the Artist Market on Saturday.
To make the cookies, the fresh lavender buds must be removed from the stem – patience are a must here. They’re then added (stem-free) to the cookie dough which is allowed to sit in the fridge overnight so that the lavender flavor infuses the cookie dough. HINT: Mix up several batches of lavender herb butter and store in the freezer for later use. Impress your friends mid-winter by serving these fresh-picked tasting lavender cookies. By the way, the baked cookies freeze well also! Make them small and bite-size and you’ll find a little goes a long way! Well worth the effort that goes into making them with lots of heartfelt love.
Well, back to the gardens…see ya, Jen