Got lavender? Then it’s time to make lavender lemonade!
Whether you have just one lavender plant or a hedge of lavender plants, lavender is a wonderful addition to every garden. The scented leaves and flowers of lavender have been used for centuries to keep bugs at bay, add a pleasant scent to bathing water or laundry water, and simply for the gentle scent it gives to the air. Lavender is also used in the kitchen to flavor cakes and other traditional recipes.
Lavender is a Mediterranean herb that enjoys warm, dry weather and dislikes poorly drained soil. Most English Lavender (angustifolia) varieties are hardy to at least USDA Zone 5, and they are happy in containers as well as in the ground.
There are two common varieties of English Lavender – Munstead and Hidcote, and both do well in the garden. Hidcote varieties have short flower stems and a stubby lavender flower while the Munstead has longer stems and a more elongated flower. The flower color is usually purple with white and pink varieties also available. The flower color does not really affect the flavor imparted by the plant, but simply rubbing your hand on the leaves or flower will give a hint about how strong the flavor will be. Both Hidcote and Munstead do equally well in the kitchen and most families find that just one or two plants are sufficient for all their household uses.
Lavender lemonade is a homemade treat
A simple way to use lavender is to make lavender lemonade. Making lavender lemonade is a wonderful way to introduce new tastes and colors to kids (who might be finicky when it comes to trying new things). Here’s my recipe for homemade lavender lemonade:
Recipe for Lavender Lemonade
4 large, thick skinned lemons
1 ½ cup sugar
3 cups water
6 lavender stems
What to do:
- Grate the zest from the lemons
- Squeeze the juice from the lemons
- Make a lemon syrup:
(1) Add lemon zest and sugar to one cup of water and bring to the boil slowly.
(2) Allow to cool then strain the liquid into a jug.
(3) Add lemon juice.
4. Make the lavender water:
- Add the lavender stems plus flowers to two cups of water and slowly bring to the boil.
- Remove from heat, and allow to cool.
- Strain the liquid.
- When both liquids are cool, mix together and stir.
For the perfect lavender lemonade, don’t be afraid to adjust the amounts of lavender and sugar to your taste. Just a little lavender goes a long way. Also note that when using a frozen lemonade mix, substitute one container of water with lavender water.
Additional variations to the basic lavender lemonade: Add a sprig of rosemary or short stem of oregano to the lavender water when heating (step 4.1). This makes the flavor more delightfully complex.
The final step: Enjoy your fresh lavender lemonade in the comfort of your own kitchen or backyard!
Kate Copsey is a freelance writer who specializes in garden topics. She is the author of The Downsized Veggie Garden, and she’s a member of GWA: The Association for Garden Communicators. Check out her website at www.katecopsey.com.