Lavender – grow and eat your own!

My first guest blog from my dear friend Barbara Goodall. She’s an aromatherapist, gardener and foodie so I couldn’t think of anyone better to write about growing and eating your own lavender. Head on over to http://www.timeout-for-you.co.uk/ for more about what she does.  

Lavenders thrive in full sun and well drained soil… Mine loved the conditions this summer!!

Lavender, aromatherapy, massage, Belper, essential oils, grow your own, cooking, recipe, shortbread,

Grow your own…

Two species of lavender are growing in my garden, giving a long flowering period for my pleasure as well as providing nectar for many butterflies, bees and other insects.

True Lavenders such as Lavandula angustifolia ‘’Hidcote’ (height c. 30cm x spread c. 30cm) provide a high quality essential oil. This compact plant has blue/green narrow leaves and intense, dark blue flower spikes from late spring to early summer. I also love the effect and simplicity of the vertical stems before the flowers open!

Hybrids such as Lavandula x intermedia ‘Grosso’ (Ht 90cm x sp 90cm) are slightly less hardy, have long, loose spikes and flowers a month later..

By cutting back my lavenders after flowering, just above the woody stems, I leave some green tips that will have at least a month’s growth to protect the plant from the frost. In the spring, after the frosts I give them a wee trim back to keep them neat and compact.

Lavender, aromatherapy, massage, Belper, recipe, shortbread, cooking, baking, essential oils,
Lavender Field in Wiltshire

In Cooking…

Adding fresh lavender to my shortbread and scone recipes is a gentle way to enjoy the therapeutic effects of the essential oil and is a reminder of warm sunny days…

I grind a few chopped lavender flowers (maybe half a teaspoon), in a pestle and mortar for a floral taste and smell, or finely chop the leaves for a more balsamic earthy flavour. See below for the recipe. 

So many therapeutic qualities to choose from…

Julia Lawless gives some wonderful descriptions in her book Lavender Oil, Nature’s Soothing Remedy.

An excellent essential oil for skin care, a valuable soothing remedy and a good analgesic, its regulating effect on the nervous system is unique.

Its nature is balancing and harmonising and is neither yin nor yang in the extreme and tends to increase the overall effectiveness of a remedy when used in combination with it.

Lavender is a supreme adaptogen.  It can have a restorative effect in cases of listlessness or weakness, yet has a calming effect on those prone to hyperactivity or agitation.

Lavender Shortbread recipe

190C/Gas mark 5/6 for 10 to 15 minutes

Makes c.24

Ingredients:

200g butter

100g icing sugar sieved

200g plain flour

100g cornflour

Pinch of salt

½ to 1 tsp finely chopped lavender flowers

Caster sugar for sprinkling

Method:

Chop butter and soften

Beat in icing sugar

Add flour, salt and lavender little by little kneading well to form a smooth dry paste, initially with a flat bladed knife and then with your lightly floured fingers

Turn onto a floured worktop and roll into a sausage shape, say 5cm in diameter

If you are patient, wrap in greaseproof paper and chill in the fridge for an hour

Slice into discs and place onto baking trays and sprinkle with caster sugar

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes or so depending how golden brown you like your biscuits.

Leave on your baking tray for 5 minutes before you transfer them to a cooling tray

They smell and taste divine warm!

Store in an airtight tin if you like them crispy

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