We had our first harvest! All summer we have been debudding the 5 varieties we planted on the farm, to promote energy towards root development, but we wanted to take the chance this first year of farming to do a little experiment.
We decided to let one variety from each of our two species go into a late bloom. The stakes are not too high here and they have had a ton of growth so it seems that the plants have a good root system down, why not reap a little harvest and see if it makes a difference in the long run? The risk is having a less abundant second-year harvest which we think is worth it in order to start working on our product line for when we open the shop next summer. Our harvest was from the variety of lavender that has become a favorite of us all, Folgate.
The Folgate variety is a lavendula angustifolia which means it contains less oil than some of our other lavender varieties which fall under the species lavendula x intermedia. The oil that a cultivar from the lavendula angustifolia species contains is of higher quality which means it can be used for culinary purposes… ENTER, lavender lemonade. Although the harvest was small it was still unforgettable. I can’t wait to harvest the Super variety next and add it to our handmade soap!
What better way to celebrate this milestone than with a big pitcher of lemonade? I figure any celebration is an excuse to try out a new recipe. This lavender lemonade hits the spot on a hot summer day, but that is not all. It can also be used to help relieve headaches and anxiety, as well as insomnia. Making lemonade from scratch does take some time, but I can tell you that it really is sooooo much better and therefore totally worth it. I recently bought this citrus juicer and it makes quick work of the lemon juicing. I don’t know how I got along without this tool in my kitchen until a few months ago. That said, I came up with a shortcut option with this recipe for those that might want it. If you are in charge of bringing drinks to the next get-together, this recipe is promised to be a hit and definitely something that people will talk about.
Serves 12 | adapted from The Lavender Lover’s Handbook
8 cups filtered water
2 cups wildflower honey (regular honey or sugar can be substituted)
5 TBSP dried culinary lavender buds
2 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice (~2 bags of lemons will do the trick)
*garnish with lavender sprigs and/or lemon wedges
– Combine water, honey, and lavender buds in a stockpot and bring mixture to boil.
– Remove from heat and let steep until cool (~20 minutes).
– Pour the mixture through a fine colander to remove buds.
– Combine in pitcher with fresh lemon juice.
– Serve on ice with garnish.
Here’s the shortcut option:
(follow same lavender to liquid ratio)
-Take a jug of lemonade (Simply Lemonade is my favorite brand) and pour into a stockpot. Bring to just below boil and remove from heat. Place a tea bag of lavender buds in the stockpot to steep until cool. Remove tea bag and serve over ice with garnish. No squeezing lemons, no need to sweeten, and no straining. I just make my own lavender tea bags from coffee filters and bread-ties…super fancy, I know.
Although lavender is not new to the culinary world it is just now gaining popularity in the U.S. for its appearance in cocktails, coffee drinks, and desserts. I tend to get a lot of blank stares when I tell people that lavender is edible…it is actually from the mint family (just like oregano and sage). I would describe lavender lemonade as the gateway drug to lavender-infused recipes. The perfect hint of lavender will lead people to want more and this pretty pink drink provides just that. I have started using lavender in more recipes at home and now it is one of my favorite flavors and one that I seek out when at a bar or dessert shop. Next time you’re out and about see if you can find any places that have lavender as a flavor option. Try it once and you will be seeking it out time and time again.