Sunday, July 22, 2012

Lavender Water: A How To Guide

I was lucky enough to head to Hillside Farmacy with my friend Christine and as we were noshing on lavender French macaroons (my macaroon mission will be posted in a different post completely, this is still a work in progress) she was saying how into lavender she said this summer.  Which reminded me of my attempt to make Honey Lavender Ice Cream last summer.  It turned out quite lovely, but my husband, not being partial to the taste of lavender in his food and my body not really being so good with the processing of glucose as of late, made making that ice cream a bit of a waste of time as far as future batches were concerned.  

My mom got me a thing of lavender hand wash for my kitchen sink and I do like to smell my hands after washing them.  Christine was saying she's been using a lavender spray this summer as a light fragrance.  Our common enjoyment of lavender first caused me to try and pawn off some of the giant bag of culinary lavender I bought on Amazon (see below) to make that ice cream which I will now never use, on her.  My next thought was, other than the obvious (sachets) how can I use it around the house?  

Another gift I got from my mom is lavender linen spray from Crabtree and Evelyn.  I will admit to spritzing our sheets with this stuff rather than changing the sheets once a week to buy us a few more nights until I get around to changing them (or as a stalling tactic until the maid comes and does it for me).  You can also use it in your laundry steamer or to spritz your clothes as you iron them.  But this stuff isn't cheap.  It lasts me a very long time, but it's still around $18 and doesn't solve my lavender surplus issue and it's not really intended to spray on your skin.  

So while I was shopping at Hobby Lobby for another project (painting a rug, whole other blog post) I picked up a spray bottle in the paint supply section for $1.50.  I perused some YouTube videos, I saw some talk about using distilled water or vodka and steeping the lavender in it and it seemed like a waste of vodka/that I would end up smelling like a drunken hobo if I used those approaches.  So with nothing to lose, I threw a handful of the dried lavender into a pint glass, filled it with water, and forgot about it for 2 hours.  

Later that night I came into the kitchen to get a beer and remembered my little experiment.  I strained the lavender out with a strainer and then ran it through a dish cloth to get out any fine particles.  I filled my little bottle using a funnel I keep for cooking purposes.  I think getting the organic matter out of the water is pretty important, otherwise I think it would start to smell rotten.  

So there you have it, my bottle of homemade lavender water.  My only complaint is that it's brown and I'm worried about it staining things, like say, a white blouse.  But I'd use it on my brown sheets or dark colored clothing and came back from yoga this morning and spritzed myself in the sweaty face with it and it was rather refreshing.  I think it would be nice to make up a few of these and put a fancy label on them and give them as hostess gifts, but I'm worried the brown color makes this a fairly undesirable gift.  What do you think?

Other uses for culinary lavender include mixing some with your tea leaves.  In 2007 I was in Sydney, Australia and sat down to tea at a delightful tea room and was served a mix of black tea and lavender.  I've been searching all over for it since and the closest I've come is a blend of Earl Grey and lavender.  I'm not a fan of Earl Grey, so I've been mixing some of the dried lavender in with my loose leaf English Breakfast and achieved a much more favorable result.  

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