Lavender is an amazing plant with a very long history. While the plant itself is a Mediterranean native, its use has spread throughout the world, in many different situations. You’ll often see lavender planted as an ornamental, made into an essential oil, used for its wonderful aroma, or even included in recipes.
In fact, learning how to use dried lavender is an ongoing experience, given there are so many different possible uses. Popular ways of using dried lavender include making lavender sachets, including dried lavender in homemade bath products, and even adding it as an ingredient to both sweet and savory dishes.
If you’re using lavender in food, you’ll need to be cautious. Don’t add too much, as the flavor is surprisingly strong and can easily overpower your meals.
It’s also important to look for culinary lavender. This most often comes from the species Lavandula angustifolia (also called English lavender). This variety contains less oil than other types and tends to be both sweeter and more palatable. Many other varieties are still edible but don’t taste as good.
How To Use Dried Lavender
Lavender sachets are one of the most popular uses for dried lavender. These can be included in clothing drawers, under pillows, and anywhere else you want to smell nice.
The simplest approach is to fill a breathable bag with dried lavender buds. Cotton or linen are ideal bag materials, as they will let the scent out while keeping the lavender buds in place.
An even better approach is to include a mixture of lavender buds and rice, perhaps with a few drops of essential oil. The rice helps to offset some of the intensity of the dried lavender, giving you a nicer fragrance. The rice also absorbs some of the essential oil. Because of this, a sachet with rice, essential oil, and lavender buds will retain its scent much longer than one with just lavender buds.
Potpourri is easy to find, but why not make your own instead? Doing so lets you choose the perfect mix of ingredients for you.
You’re generally looking at a combination of dried petals, essential oils, and sometimes spices. Dried orange peel is a common addition too. The essential oils are a useful touch, as they help the potpourri to keep its flavor for much longer.
Potpourri often uses dried rose petals as one of the main ingredients. You can then add and remove other ingredients as you see fit, including dried lavender buds.
It’s also possible to make stovetop potpourri, where you’re heating various herbs and other ingredients together. This Lavender Stovetop Potpourri recipe is one example of the style, but there’s endless scope for variation.
For a relaxing treat, why not make lavender tea? This is as simple as mixing one or two teaspoons of dried lavender buds into a mug of boiled water and allowing the drink to steep.
After ten minutes, the lavender buds can be removed and you have delicious herbal tea that’s ready to drink. You could also experiment with adding other ingredients. Lavender and lemon are popular choices, as are lavender and chamomile (as both can help you relax and may improve sleep).
Lavender tea works well with fresh lavender buds too. This version is just as delicious and is easy to make.
However, you shouldn’t use lavender essential oil. Essential oils are much more concentrated than the plants they come from and could cause damage to mucous membranes in your mouth and esophagus. Even if the oil doesn’t harm you, you’re not getting the same wonderful flavor found with lavender buds themselves.
Use It In Desserts
The aromatic nature of lavender is excellent in sweet desserts. Shortbread works especially well, as it is rich and decadent but doesn’t have a strong flavor.
However, that’s just one example of many. You’ll also see lavender and chocolate cakes, lavender lemon bars, lavender earl grey cookies and countless other treats.
Some people grind lavender with sugar, make lavender simple syrup, or infuse lavender into cream as a starting point. All of those approaches provide the desired lavender flavor without messing with your recipe too much.
Lavender salt is an interesting seasoning, one you can use in both sweet and savory dishes. It’s a very simple idea too, as you’re just combining dried lavender with coarse salt.
A ratio of 2.5 teaspoons of lavender to half a cup of salt is a good place to start. However, you can certainly experiment. Chopping the lavender first helps to release its aroma and makes your salt even more flavorful.
Lavender is famous for being calming, so it’s not surprising that it’s an excellent addition to homemade bath products. Doing so can be as simple as mixing dried lavender with epsom salts.
There are plenty of other options as well, like making lavender bath bombs. Many recipes will include some lavender essential oil to help boost the lavender scent.
You can mix dried lavender with baking soda, allow the combo to sit for a while, then sprinkle it on your carpet before vacuuming. This acts like a traditional carpet freshener while also providing the fragrance of lavender.
Infused vinegar is always fantastic, as you can use it as the base of homemade cleaning products, salad dressings, and in plenty of other situations. You could even place the vinegar in a spray bottle and use it as a fabric softener, a hair rinse, or for cleaning.
The approach is as simple as placing dried lavender buds in the vinegar and allowing them to sit. The ratio is up to you, but roughly a cup of buds per gallon of vinegar is a good place to begin.
As with other infusions, you’ll need to strain out the lavender buds at the end.
Dried lavender can actually be used in a blend along with traditional herbs. Herbes de Provence is one of the most famous examples. This is a popular French and Mediterranean blend that includes rosemary, thyme, basil, mint, lavender, and a surprising number of other herbs.
You can also make simpler blends using lavender. Even just using one other herb can be delicious. Rosemary, oregano, or sage are all excellent starting points for such an approach.
Include In Homemade Soaps Or Candles
Dried lavender is an easy addition to homemade candles or soaps. You could look for recipes designed for lavender or simply add lavender to a recipe you already use.
You can even use lavender in recipes that are made from kits. These are designed to make soap making or candle making easy, and adding extra ingredients is generally very simple.
However, lavender will eventually turn brown in your product, as it is cut off from the air. There isn’t any way around this, so it’s best to focus on earthy colors in your soap or candles. That way the brown pieces of lavender don’t matter so much.
Lavender essential oil is a popular way to add lavender scent to many products and situations. While they’re fantastic, essential oils aren’t easy to make yourself, as they rely on distillation.
Lavender infused oil is an excellent alternative. The goal here is to steep dried lavender buds in carrier oil so that the oil takes on the scent of lavender. You’ll normally want to steep for at least a week, if not a couple of weeks, so the flavor ends up strong enough.
Sweet almond oil is a common choice for the carrier oil, although there are plenty of other options including extra virgin olive oil and jojoba oil.
When deciding, think about how you’re going to use the oil. If you’re focusing on cosmetic applications, sweet almond oil is a popular choice. Avocado oil and extra virgin olive oil can be useful for a multipurpose oil, as they have cosmetic applications and are also edible.
5 Delicious Recipes Using Dried Lavender
This Dark Chocolate Lavender Tart is truly stunning. It offers some exciting flavors, including dark chocolate, honey, and lavender in the tart itself, plus lemon and cardamom in the crust.
The lavender and cardamom particularly elevate this tart from being a simple treat to something complex and decadent. I love how lavender buds have also been scattered across the top of the tart. These give an indication of the flavor profile and make the tart look even better.
This Savory Rice Pilaf with Lavender and Apricots uses lavender in a completely different way. Here lavender adds floral notes to rice pilaf, while the apricots provide a refreshing burst of fruity flavor.
There are some other interesting ingredients in the recipe too, including currants, candied ginger, and almonds or pistachios. These all add to the flavor profile, creating a complex and exciting meal.
The lavender is added early in the cooking, which helps the flavor to infuse throughout. This means you can still taste the lavender, even with all the other ingredients.
This Lavender Beef Stew in the Slow Cooker is a simpler example of using lavender in savory recipes. It’s an interesting idea, as beef stew has an intense flavor profile and tastes amazing all on its own. Despite this, the taste of lavender doesn’t get lost. Instead, it adds delicious and subtle flavor notes that really elevate the dish.
The same principles from this recipe could be applied to other types of stew too, even ones with complex flavor profiles. Why not experiment with some of your favorites? Who knows? Lavender might make the whole dish much better.
Don’t these Lavender Earl Grey Cookies look stunning? As the name suggests, the cookies incorporate dried lavender buds and earl grey tea. That combination creates a strongly floral flavor profile, one that’s complemented by the buttery sugar cookies.
The author, Michelle, mentions that these taste like elevated snickerdoodle cookies. That means they have the basic flavors of a snickerdoodle cookie, but have been customized with unusual ingredients to create a much more exciting flavor profile.
You can even garnish the cookies with lavender to make them look even more stunning.
Lemon And Lavender Chicken
Finally, we have this Lemon and Lavender Chicken. The recipe relies on using crushed lavender as part of a marinade for the chicken. This is an easy way to impart lavender flavor into your chicken.
The recipe is also very simple, as there are just a handful of ingredients, with lemon, thyme, and honey being the main other sources of flavor. This simplicity is excellent, as it allows the flavors of your lavender to truly shine.
Lavender is most often dried by hanging it in a warm and dark location. Hanging it in the sun doesn’t work as well, as the sunlight will fade your lavender and make it look duller.
When you do this, arrange the lavender into bunches where the heads are roughly at the same length. The bunches should dry within a week or a little longer, depending on the location.
You can also dry lavender as loose stems on a screen or in a basket. You’ll need to keep them in a single layer for them to dry effectively.