|Written By Lara Wadsworth
Lavender is a gorgeous woody perennial bush that is fragrant, delicious, and beautiful to look at. A lot of people will plant it in their yard and leave it at that. While this approach isn’t wrong, it is limited! Lavender can be used for a wide variety of uses from the kitchen to the bathroom and beyond. A bit of creativity and open-mindedness is all that is needed to explore the many uses of lavender blooms and leaves in the landscape and the home!
Most people know lavender to smell delightful, but they often look past how it can flavor things as well! There are many cake recipes online that use lavender as a main flavoring agent. On its own, it produces a white, floral-tasting cake. But it also pairs well with blackberries, lemons, and other fruits to complement the slightly bitter flavors. Many recipes will call for dried lavender or lavender extract. This can be made from fresh lavender plants. However, some recipes call for fresh lavender which is equally as delicious. Don’t forget that whether or not your cake is lavender-flavored, lavender and other edible flowers can be adorable garnishes for cakes!
Similar to cake, cookies can be lavender flavored too! The most popular style lavender cookie is a sugar or shortbread cookie base with lavender flavors. Try incorporating sanding sugar or coarse sugar to highlight the lavender flavor while counteracting any bitterness. Lavender cookies are often paired with other flavors such as lemon, vanilla, and butter. Utilize lavender fresh, dried, in oil, or in extract form depending on the recipe. No matter how you cut your cookies, lavender is sure to make a delicious statement in the bakery!
Lavender has even made it into the drink mixer world. Alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages alike are realizing that lavender has more to offer than just its scent. The most popular lavender-centered drink is lavender lemonade. The mix of lemon, lavender, and sugar is almost too good to be true. It is the perfect drink for a sunny day by the pool. Lavender extract and fresh lavender are the most popular forms used for drink making.
To make about 6 cups of lavender lemonade, rub a small handful of freshly picked and cleaned lavender flowers as well as the zest from two lemons into one cup of sugar. This will release the oils of the lavender and the lemon zest. Then, pour 2 cups of boiling water into the sugar mixture and mix thoroughly. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes to 2 hours. Then, run the mixture through a strainer to get out any plant matter. Combine this with another 2 cups of cold water and as much ice as desired. Enjoy!
It is no secret that lavender is beautiful to behold. Of course, on a bush outside in your landscape, it is pretty, but you can put those many flower stalks to good use by simply cutting and arranging them. Arrange them either alone, or with other flowers in a bouquet for your table, bathroom, or bedroom. Lavender also bundles well with other herbs. Try creating your own dried herb bundles. The lavender will continue to release its beautiful scent in a very delicate way as long as you have them. They pair beautifully with shasta daisies and zinnias.
Can’t get enough of the smell of lavender? Lavender potpourri is delightfully fragrant and equally as beautiful. Cut lavender flower stalks when they are in their prime and hang them upside down in a well-ventilated area until they are completely dried and free of moisture. Then, take the lavender as well as any other dried flowers or flower petals you may have and place them all in a bowl. Gently toss the mixture with lavender essential oil. Place the bowl in a prominent location in your home and wait as the delightful aroma fills the room. Alternatively, try making your own homemade candles with flecks of lavender, both for show and scent.
A more creative approach to lavender is confetti. I went to a wedding once where instead of confetti or rice being thrown as the bride and groom left the church, each guest was given a little sachet of dried lavender flowers. We threw this in the air and at them as they hurried away to their honeymoon. This is wonderful because, unlike plastic or paper confetti, it will completely biodegrade in a very short amount of time and doesn’t leave any harmful chemicals behind. It is even better than rice (which is traditionally thrown at weddings) because birds have been known to collect rice after celebrations such as these and then choke on them. Birds won’t be killed by dried lavender flowers! Use this idea in any way you see fit. Birthday parties, weddings, graduations, and anytime you might normally purchase confetti.
Cleaning and Refreshing
Thanks to lavender’s delightful fragrance, it is often used in cleaning products to help mask the smells of either what you are cleaning or what you are cleaning with. For example, homemade cleaners often feature vinegar which does not have a nice scent. Adding lavender, fresh or in essential oil form, can mitigate that smell! Alternatively, dried lavender flowers are often added to carpet refreshing powders to leave behind the scent once it has been all vacuumed away. You can find plenty of cleaning uses and recipes with lavender online.
Are you a fan of homemade spa nights? Many people these days are making their own bath salts and bath bombs, among other things. Lavender is a very popular ingredient for its obvious aromatherapy uses. When soaking in a bath that has been treated with lavender in some way, most people report feeling less stressed and more calm.
Teas or Tinctures
Lavender tea is a wonderfully calming and soothing drink for any time of year. Make fresh tea by drying the flowers first and then steeping them as you would tea leaves. Tinctures can be made by boiling fresh flowers in water. Strain and enjoy! Teas and tinctures are similarly enjoyed and feature similar benefits to the mind and body.
Grilling With Lamb
Even when lavender is brought into the kitchen for cooking, it is usually paired with sweet flavors such as the cakes or cookies mentioned above. Lavender is actually a popular and remarkably delicious herb that can be used when grilling or roasting lamb or pork. It can be used as the main flavor, or paired with rosemary for an interesting duo.
|Lara Wadsworth, True Leaf Market Writer
I am a native of Southwestern Michigan, where I also reside, and I love all things plants! I got a Bachelor's Degree in Horticulture and found the first work-from-home job I could get. Now, I spend my days writing for TLM, playing with my dog, eating delicious food with my husband, and plotting my next landscape or gardening move. I believe everyone should get down and dirty in the soil now and then. Happy Gardening!