Monday, July 26, 2010

Lavender....

There are two herbs which are my all time favourites....basil and lavender. Today's post is about lavender.

To me lavender evokes visions of an English country cottage where the door opens and a white haired elderly lady emerges with a crocheted shawl around her shoulders and walks down the path towards me with her hand outstretched to greet the visitor. Upon entering the house, scents of wood polish hinting strongly of lavender assail my nostrils. Whether the lavender is on the lady or in the cushions dotted around the sitting room, I'm not sure, but  it's very comforting and the urge is strong to kick off my shoes and curl up on a flower patterned sofa and breathe. Call me a Romantic, but there is nothing that puts me in a more relaxed and nostalgic frame of mind than the scent of lavender.

Strangely enough, lavender perfume tends to make people think of England, but there are also many lavender farms in France and of course North America.....along with a myriad of varieties of lavender.

I have about 3 large bushes of lavender in my garden, which is small compared to what I had in Langley. However, it's more than enough for my needs. I always keep dried lavender around in the winter to use for baking, teas or just to smell..:-). In the summer the two major projects for me with lavender are
Strawberry Lavender Jam and Raspberry Lavender Vinegar (of which I have no link because it's something I do out of my head......
Here is the lavender......and the lavender and strawberries and sugar in a large bowl covered with plastic wrap.....you see you have to leave it overnight to marinate and well.....there are these fruit flies......and I forgot to take a picture before I covered it......and I reeeeally didn't want to take the cover off and redo it....so ......

...but you get the gist of it.....and then there's the finished product......voila!!!

The Raspberry Lavender vinegar is really quite simple....get a gallon jar or two half gallons and a lot of white wine vinegar and raspberries and lavender.....

You then combine them all together, giving the raspberries a little squish to release the juices, break the stems of the lavender a little....putting them in the jar and filling it up with white wine vinegar. Put some plastic wrap over the top if you're using metal lids, or if you do what I did and use the canning lids, just put the lids on and screw them up tight. They should look something like this....
or to get a clearer view (with the flash) ...this
You then store them in a cool dark place (in our case the downstairs pantry) for at least 2-3 months, and then bottle them in smaller bottles with plastic screw tops similar to this.......
...which is officially called "a 10 oz Woozy" bottle from Richard's Packaging....however, any similar type of bottle will be suitable....just make sure you use a plastic cap to avoid corrosion. 

We usually filter the vinegar anywhere up to 5 times, using coffee filters and then it makes a beautiful clear ruby colour in the bottle.  One hint: Do NOT put fresh herbs in the bottled vinegar as it will go moldy as you use the vinegar and the herbs are no longer covered.  The idea is nice and pretty, but not very practical.
So there you have it.....

I am presently contemplating the idea of infusing a large bottle of cleaning vinegar with lavender....I had a chance to try someone's home made lavender cleaning vinegar and it was lovely....to wash windows, counters etc....just left an overall comfortable and welcoming lavender scent in the house. I did notice that one of the large supermarkets had a vinegar labeled for cleaning as it was a stronger strength.....what a super idea!!!

I haven't made any lavender cosmetics recently, although I have made a lavender lip balm and it was heavenly and worked a treat!!  Speaking of treats, I do allow myself to buy commercial lavender preparations for bath and hand soap and bar soap and shower gel and shampoo...and ....and....
At some point I would like to make some of those things myself......I may or  I may not, but in the meantime I try to buy organic products and ones that have a very traditional lavender scent.....so many now are very synthetic and only a fraction of the loveliness that is natural lavender scent!!

Slainte!!

2 comments:

Patricia said...

Thanks for sharing your journey. I'm the same age and am just realising my dream of setting up my own business.
I love lavender and have begun to blog about it. Meeting some great lavender lovers along the way :-)
I grew lavenders when I was living and working in England and now I am home, hope to grow them here too.
Very different climate but the English and French lavenders thrive in our climate so shouldn't have too much trouble.
Regards from sunny Perth Australia
Patricia
www.lavenderuses.com
all things lavender

Laurie said...

I am in love with the Lavender Flower. There are so many things you can do with this wonderful plant.