Lavender grows year-round in our garden. I use it to make this simple syrup and I preserve it in sugar and in salt. I use it in shortbreads, in scones, in ice cream. It is a favorite of ours to flavor both sweet and savory dishes. I find that this simple syrup has many uses – from flavoring sparkling water and wine to adding a touch of fragrance to whipped cream and custards.
When using lavender for cooking, make sure that it is organically-grown lavender which has had no chemical pesticides or fertilizers used on it.
I have found that the green parts of the lavender can have a slightly bitter taste so I like to use only the flowers in my dishes. You can use either fresh or dried lavender flowers or buds to make this simple syrup. I prefer dried lavender for two reasons . (1) The flowers/buds are much easier to remove from the sprig when dried and (2) the flavor is much more concentrated when dried. You need 3 times more fresh lavender than dried lavender for an equivalent flavor.
To dry the lavender, place a double-thickness of paper towels down on a baking sheet. Spread the fresh lavender out on top of the paper towels so that there is a little space between each sprig. Place the baking sheet in a dry, airy place and let the lavender dry for 3-4 days at room temperature. I typically put it on my dining room table away from direct sunlight.
When the lavender has dried, simply rub it between your fingers to remove the flowers/buds. The buds will keep in an airtight jar for at least a year.
To make the simple syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons dried lavender flowers/buds (3 times more if using fresh lavender)
You will also need:
Small saucepan with lid
Bottle with airtight seal
Pour the water into a small sauce pan. Add the sugar and stir to combine. Cook over medium-high heat until the water just starts to boil and the sugar has dissolved.
Turn off the heat and add the lavender.
Cover and let the lavender infuse into the syrup for about a half hour. This should give you a syrup that has a good lavender flavor without being overpowering.
Strain the lavender out of the syrup and discard.
Bottle the lavender and cap it, making it as airtight as possible.
Label the lavender syrup (and start drying a new batch of lavender for other uses!).
Store in the refrigerator for up to a month.
Yield: 12 ounces of lavender syrup.