Lavender (Lavandula) is a genus of some thirty-nine flowering plants in the mint family (Lamiaceae). Many members of the genus are cultivated in temperate climates as ornamental garden plants, although many are also utilised commercially for the extraction of essential oils. The name lavender is thought to have derived from the old French ‘lavandre’, which means ‘to wash’; aptly named I feel since many infusions are used in soaps, moisturisers, shampoos, conditioners and bath cremes. However, it is also suggested that the name lavender is a derivative of the latin word ‘livere’ which means ‘blueish‘. Whatever the meaning one thing is for sure: I love lavender! I’m toying with the idea of devoting a large patch of my garden to growing this versatile herb (little does my husband know!!). I’ve got ten plants growing already, but I feel that is only the beginning!
The scent of lavender instantly calms me and takes me to a wonderful place where I feel at one with the World. I fell in love with lavender as a teenager when my mother started to buy lavender infused soap; something she continues to do to this day! For as long as I can remember I have longed to walk through a field of purple-blue lavender. It is included on the list! And so imagine my delight when my husband presented me with a small purple business card for Inglenook, the ‘The Lavender Farm’ in Rainford, Cheshire; a mere fifteen miles from home.
Excitement coursed through my veins as we drove to Inglenook, and I imagined myself knee-deep in the delicately scented herb. And I’m pleased to report I was not disappointed. The farm was quaint and olde world and sold lavender, and other phyto produce, in abundance. And the lavender fields were just as I imagined they would be – spectacular! Here are some photo’s of our trip:
I have known for some time that lavender is becoming more popular in culinary circles, but I haven’t experimented with it much, until now! At the farm I learned about lavender preserve, lavender cupcakes and lavender lemonade. Given that our wanderlust had generated a thirst, I decided to opt to make the lemonade.
- 6 lemons
- 1 cup organic cane sugar
- 6 cups cold water
- 1/4 cup fresh or 1 TBSP dried culinary lavender buds (I used the Hidtcote variety, but any culinary variety may be used)
- Ice Cubes
- Lavender Springs and Lime Slices for garnish (optional)
- Juice the lemons to make 1 cup of juice. To extract the most juice, FIRMLY roll the lemons between your hand and the counter top before cutting in half and juicing. Place the lemon juice in a pitcher, and set aside.
- In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sugar with 3 cups of the water. Over medium-high heat, simmer and stir the water until the sugar is completely dissolved.
- Stir in the lavender to the sugar-water, cover, and remove from heat. Steep for 25-30 minutes.
- Strain the lavender mixture through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth, and discard the lavender buds. Pour lavender infusion into the pitcher with the lemon juice. Add the remaining 3 cups of water, and stir well.
- Pour into tall glasses half-filled with ice and garnish with fresh lavender sprigs and lime slices (optional) for that added pizzazz!!
And the result? An amazingly refreshing drink that I can see enjoyed at BBQs and Summer festivals across the World. Yes its that good!