How to dry lavender
If you’re lucky enough to have a bumper crop of lavender, you might be wondering how to dry lavender at home, without a dehydrator or other equipment. Good news, it’s very easy to pick and dry your lavender. Here’s how to dry and store lavender.
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WHAT YOU NEED TO DRY LAVENDER:
- A large tray, shallow box or other wide, shallow container or a hanging drying rack
- Cut fresh lavender
- Tissue paper, parchment paper or paper towels
- A large glass jar or other storage container
- OPTIONAL: twine or string
PREPARING THE LAVENDER:
FIRST – Cut the lavender while it’s still fresh and blooming. The flowers should just be opening. Harvest by cutting the lavender flower at the base of its stem. Leave at least a few inches of the stem so it’s easier to handle.
SECOND – Either spread the lavender in a single layer in the trays OR tie the lavender into small bunches. In order to dry lavender, it needs to have good air circulation at all times. If you have a LOT of lavender, tying it in bundles will be easier and take up less space.
THIRD – If you use trays or a drying rack, cover the tray loosely with the paper, then spread out the lavender. Cover the lavender with another sheet of paper to keep dust off the lavender while it dries. If you’re using bundles, you can hang them upside down to dry, which is very picturesque but can be messy and waste some of the flowers. It can also take up a lot of space.
A better option is to put the bundles into a large vase, pitcher or even box with the cut end down. Let the flower heads spread out so air can circulate. This option makes it much easier to catch the flowers that drop off as the lavender dries.
If you DO hang the bundles, consider putting a large sheet of paper or cardboard under them to catch the fallen flowers. You can also cover the end of the bundle with an organza bag. The bags allow plenty of air circulation but collect any spilled seeds. I use this type of organza bag.
Whichever option you choose, check often to make sure the lavender is drying evenly. If necessary, rotate the stalks to ensure consistent air exposure.
FOURTH – Leave the lavender to dry. This can take just a few days or a couple of weeks, depending on the environment. You’ll know the flowers have dried completely when they easily flake loose.
FIFTH – Gather the dried stalks and lay them gently onto a large sheet of tissue or parchment paper. As you do this, some flowers will shake loose, so it’s best to keep something under the stalks at all times to catch the fallen bits.
SIXTH – One stalk at a time, strip the dried flowers into a jar or storage container. This is tedious work but smells incredible. The parchment or tissue paper will catch loose flowers and make clean up easy. Once you’re finished stripping the stalks, just use the paper to pour the loose flowers into the jar. Easy as can be, and no waste!
Storing dried lavender
Store your dried lavender in a sealed container out of direct sunlight. Open the jar for a few minutes each day to let the dried flowers “breathe”. This will ensure the lavender is thoroughly dried and that the flowers will stay fresh and fragrant.
How long does dried lavender last?
If it’s stored in a dry container away from light, dried lavender will last indefinitely. The aroma and medicinal properties will begin to diminish, however, and eventually it will lose potency.
Using dried lavender
Use your dried lavender to flavor tea or in other recipes or make lovely sachets or pomanders from it. You can infuse oil with dried lavender to make balms, salves, lotions or other skin care products.
Lavender is believed to have a calming effect when used aromatically, so even opening a small jar and breathing in the heavenly smell may offer a moment of serenity.
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