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How to Dry Lavender

How to Dry Lavender

If you are fond of dried lavender fragrance, learn how to dry lavender and make it on your own. You just need to harvest home grown lavender blooms at proper length and dry them in bunches.
CraftCue Staff
The lavender is a commonly chosen flowering plant in home gardens. Belonging to the mint family, it is a plant of choice for gardeners and herbalists all across the globe. Also, many perfume industries are based on this annual cum subshrub perennial plant. Besides its unmatchable beauty in gardens, lavender is highly prized for its culinary and medicinal applications. All parts of the plant contain active ingredients, and are used for extraction of lavender essential oil.

The fresh and dried lavender are equally valuable in herbal therapy and cooking applications. While all lavender cultivars are fragrant, the sweet-scented English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is the best choice for drying. So, if you are planting lavender and have plans to dry them, consider selecting the true lavender species. It grows in slightly alkaline, well-drained, sandy soil and warm climatic conditions. From the second year of plantation, it will produce blooms in summer.

Tips to Dry Lavender at Home
Talking about successful herb drying, the main objective is to restore active ingredients in their original form. Otherwise, there is no point in making dried herbs. With lavender plant, it is not difficult at all. Unlike other richly scented blooms, dried lavender retains its original fragrance and color. So, you don't have to worry about the lack of aroma in this dried herb. In short, its properties remain unchanged even after drying. Here's how to dry lavender flowers easily.
  • The first step for making dried lavender is harvesting flower stalks. For this, you will need a pair of sharp gardening shears (or regular scissors). Also, be ready with a ball of cotton string for tying lavender bunches after harvesting. Or, you can make use of rubber bands instead.
  • Quality of dried lavender depends largely upon the harvested twigs. So, you are expected to take special care about the time of harvesting and selection of the branches. You can cut the stems in morning time, preferably after the dew evaporates. But, make sure you avoid harvesting during hot daytime.
  • Regarding the selection of branches, lavender is ready to harvest before the flower buds open completely. The aroma is strongest at this stage, but not after that. Also, select the blooms with the longest stalks, if available. Cut them at a point about 4-5 inches from the oldest flower of the stalk.
  • In case, lavender blooms do not have long stalks, cut them along with leaves. You can snip some of them after harvesting. Continue harvesting them as much as you like, by making sharp cuts. You can put the stalks in a clean basket or over a dry kitchen towel.
  • Now, keep harvested lavender blooms in a cool place, away from direct light. You have three options for drying lavender - the first is tying the stalks in bunches and hanging for some time, second involves placing them in a drying rack and lastly, drying it in a food dehydrator.
  • For tying and hanging method, take 3-4 stalks and tie them into one bunch with a string (or rubber band). Repeat the same for the remaining lavender blooms. Leave some space between the bunches and hang them with the flowers directing down from the rafters in a dark room. This is to ensure aeration and prevent rotting effects.
  • The drying process will take somewhere about 2 weeks to one month. For drying lavender in a drying rack, simply place the flower stalks with some space between them. Let the flowers dry in a dark room for 7 days and check for dryness.
  • When you need to dry it quickly, you can practice the third technique that requires a food dehydrator. Spread the stalks in the dehydrator rack, maintaining a space of 1-2 inches between them. Run it in low heat for the stipulated time, may be a few hours for complete dehydration.
Try the above mentioned steps for drying lavender and you can enjoy its rich scent long after it finishes blooming. The interesting part is, dried lavender can be stored and used for an extended period. It adds a pleasant aroma to cooked dishes and herbal teas. You can also use dried lavender in flower decoration, or put it in closets to impart freshness to clothes and prevent moth attacks.