What Is Lavender – Varieties – How To Dry Lavender – When To Cut And Harvest – Prune Lavender – Best Variety – Does It Take Long – Storing And Using Lavender – Drying Lavender Leaves – How Long Does It Last
Lavender is a very fragrant and lovely plant to grow at home, but it’s also a great addition to add as decoration. We do this by air drying the lavender in bundles. They add aroma and beauty to any room they are in.
Below we are sharing our tips and tricks for drying lavender and treating it right so as to not lose any of the aroma and flavor. But apart from using it for decoration, there’s also plenty of other uses. All from making tea to decorating cakes.
What Is Lavender
Lavender is a very common plant that has lovely purple flowers during the summer. It’s a very fragrant plant that has for many centuries been used in aromatherapy and herbal medicines.
It was often believed that the plant held on to some nurtoring properties that could aid in helping with sickness and ills. Nowadays lavender is mostly planted to have something nice and fragrant in the garden. But it also attracts a lot of bees since there will be a large amount of flowers on a rather small plant.
If you are considering getting some lavender for your garden then we recommend reserving a rather sunny spot for the plant. This will help ensure that you have a lot of flowers on the plant, but also a happy plant able to continually grow. Never let the soil dry out completely, try and keep it slightly damp instead.
You can basically narrow it down to 3 different lavender varieties out there. They would be the English, French and Spanish lavender. There are some quite noticeable differences between them. Mostly in the way that they grow and the size of them.
From this group of 3 there are many other sub varieties. Here they vary in size a bit. Some will grow rather small and narrow, while others might grow extremely large in size instead with a dense amount of stalks.
All the lavender varieties have a very nice and intense aroma, but there is a winner if you want the best one. The English lavender is often the most sweet and useful variety for culinary adventures and applications.
Thankfully it’s rather easy to know which variety will be able to grow in your part of the world. The English one is the hardest when it comes to the cold. The french one can manage fine in mild climates, while the spanish lavender is instead better suited for places with high temperatures and a lack of water.
How To Dry Lavender
There are many ways you can go about drying lavender, but we like these three different methods because they are the best at preserving the flavor and profile of the lavender. A good rule of thumb is that the more gently you dry the lavender, or any herb or plant for that matter, the more aroma and flavor will be left in them.
Air Drying Lavender
This is our favorite method. Air drying lavender is a great technique to use when you want to both take care of your harvest but also to decorate a room and add some lovely aroma there.
The method consists of taking some long lavender stalks or sprigs and tying them together. We then let them hang upside down with the flowers towards the ground. It will take a few weeks until they are fully dried up but the aroma and flavor of them will be really intense.
You don’t have to take them down after they have dried up. Instead you can leave them hanging and clip off whatever you need when you want. They store flavor and aroma very well like this.
Oven Drying Lavender
This method is very good for preserving and storing a large amount of lavender in one go. We do it by simply removing most of the flowers from the plant. Lay them out on a tray with some paper underneath.
We then dry the lavender in the oven at the lowest possible temperature. This will take between 6 – 8 hours or more depending on how well hydrated the flowers are and the temperature you are using. We can store them like the air dried ones, so instead we should use an air-tight container to keep mice away.
If you are lucky enough to have a dehydrator at home then this might be a great method for you to use. It’s very good for drying large amounts of lavender. We use more or less the same technique as the oven dried lavender.
Pick the flowers apart and then lay them in the dehydrator in the different layers. Set the temperature to the lowest. It will be a bit quicker than the oven dried ones. Between 4 – 6 hours or so in total. Just like before, we should try and store the dried lavender in an air-tight container to keep moisture away.
When To Cut And Harvest Lavender Flowers
The best time of the year to be cutting and harvesting lavender flowers are at the end of the summer. The plant doesn’t really bloom and let the flowers fall off that quickly. Instead they stay on for a rather long time.
So by the end of the summer when the temperature drops and the plant has had a long and prosperous time the flavor and aroma will be at their peak. Take a sharp scissor and cut off the flowers only if you are oven drying or dehydrating. But if you want to air dry, you can cut off some of the stalks as well to make it a bit easier tying them up.
How To Prune Lavender
Pruning lavender is mostly done when it’s one of the larger varieties. Those tend to grow rather quickly during the season and can look unpleasant by the end. So pruning them is good to keep them inline and also have a beautiful garden.
We normally prune them at the start of summer and a little bit during too. You just need to clip off the top to sort of keep the same length on all of the stalks. The clipped stalks will begin developing flowers eventually. At that point the entire lavender plant will have a more bushy appearance that we prefer.
Be careful to not prune too much though. Taking away more than 1 third of the plant at a time might cause too much stress to it.
Best Lavender Variety For Drying
We mentioned the varieties of lavender before and for us there is a clear winner. The english lavender is the most concentrated in aroma and flavor. It’s also great for almost any climate since it can handle both warm summers and cold winters.
It’s our favorite and the one we are growing at home right now. It won’t grow that large either. Instead the plant will be about 1 foot tall and stay at that for most of its life. The flowers are beautifully purple and full of aroma and flavor. Best suited for air drying and letting fill the room with its perfume.
Does It Take Long To Dry Lavender
It really doesn’t take that long to dry lavender if you are using the oven drying method or a dehydrator. Then you can dry a large harvest in one day at least. The method we recommend however usually takes a lot longer, between 1 – 2 weeks. But then we are air drying them outside. We tie a bundle and let time do its thing. The benefit of this is that the flavor and aroma of the lavender will be so much more concentrated.
How To Store And Use Dried Lavender
Storing and then actually using your lavender is also a big part of taking care of your harvest. We have a number of different methods of using them, but only one way to store them. If you want to keep them for the long term then you need to have an air-tight container to store them in.
This will keep moisture away and make it a lot less likely any form of bacteria and mold starts growing on them. We mostly use that though, when the lavender has been picked down to its flowers only. If we are air-drying a bundle then that can stay out without any problems.
Being able to use the lavender finally might be the best part. We like making tea from the aromatic flowers. It’s nice and sweet with a very perfumed aroma. But decorating a cake by sprinkling some flowers over the top is also a great way of using them.
How To Dry Lavender Leaves And Buds
The leaves and the buds might not be the most common part of the plant to dry. But they actually do offer quite a lot of flavor and aroma. We like to oven dry or dehydrate these parts of the plant.
Pick the leaves from the plant and then lay them flat on a tray with the picked lavender buds too. Dry them at the lowest possible setting for about 6 – 8 hours. Try to store them in an air-tight container afterwards.
How Long Does The Dried Lavender Last
Once the lavender has dried then it can last for a very long time. Often between 1 – 2 years at least. It will all really depend on the type of storage you are using. If you keep them in an air-tight container then the lavender will be fine.
The thing we want to avoid is mousitire as that makes it easier for mold to grow on the dried lavender. Once you have kept them for over a year, you might start noticing a lack in aroma and flavor as that can’t be kept up forever. So using it up while you can and then preserving next year’s harvest instead is probably the best way to go about it.
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