Whether you’re using it for decoration, for tea or in cooking, lavender has numerous uses when dried. But in order to take advantage of this, you’ll need to know how to dry it. Fortunately, the process is straightforward, allowing you to enjoy its colour and fragrance.
If you have lavender growing in your garden, you may wish to learn how to dry your fresh lavender blooms. Out of all the fragrances found in our gardens, the scent of fresh lavender flowers is a favourite of many.
Yet, as well as being an extremely aromatic bloom, and one that is said to calm your mind and skin, it also has many other uses, including in cocktails, as a salve or balm or as sachets. This is irrespective of the style of lavender you grow – be it Spanish, English or French!
Hanging lavender to dry
The easiest and simplest way to dry fresh lavender blooms is to (put simply) hang them out to dry. The below step-by-step guide will help you to do this:
First things first gather bouquets that are around a handful in size. The next step necessitates you to secure these stems in place. This can be done with a rubber band or with twine. Once secured, hang them upside-down. This will encourage them to dry passively.
If you have a larger harvest, it is a good idea to hang various small bunches of lavender as opposed to one large bunch, as this will cut the drying time and prevent mould from occurring.
Another tip? Don’t tie your bunches too tightly as this can damage them and prevent airflow. For best results, ensure you hang your lavender bunches in a dry, warm location and one that boasts great air circulation.
You can promote air circulation by using a fan or by placing your bunches next to an open window. Placing your lavender in a dark space (away from direct sunlight) will heighten colour retention.
To check whether your lavender is dry, attempt to break a single stem. When entirely dry, the stem will snap crisply as opposed to bending. The time it takes for lavender to dry in full is entirely dependent on your climate.
This style of drying lavender tends to work best in arid, warmer climates or alternatively in indoor, controlled conditions. If you reside close to the coast, you may experience both mild humidity and fog, both of which can also assist in drying decorative lavender.
Drying lavender in a food dehydrator
Another drying method involves a food dehydrator. This method is extremely easy, and a great deal quicker than drying your lavender passively at room temperature. This is also a popular method for those wishing to make lavender-infused oils or salve out of their dried lavender.
It not only speeds up the entire process, but it makes sure the lavender is 100% dry! Dried herbs that boast any leftover moisture can cause the likes of medicinal balms and oils to develop mould.
One point to note when using this process? Avoid overheating the lavender. Heating the lavender at the correct temperature will ensure you preserve the topmost level of essential oils, helping to heighten its therapeutic advantages.
With this in mind, it is important to set your food dehydrator at the lowest temperature – This should be around 37°C.
Here is a step-by-step guide:
Handpick the lavender, opting for the buds that sit clustered together. You should then trim the excess stems and place any unwanted cuttings in a compost pile. Place your pruned lavender buds on a dehydrator tray, ensuring they don’t overlap.
If your lavender is particularly crumbly or your dehydrator trays boast larger openings, you may need to invest in dehydrator tray liners. Otherwise, line your dehydrator trays with everyday parchment paper, but only if flower buds are falling through the tray.
Dry the lavender on a lower temperature setting, AT around 37°C. This will assist in preserving the advantageous plant enzymes this bloom is renowned for. The lavender tends to take between 24 and 48 hours to dry in its entirety. However, this is highly dependent on the style of lavender you choose, the bud size, and the machine you opt for.
To ensure they are fully dry, attempt to break a large bud apart. If dry, the stem will snap as opposed to bend and it should feel crumbly and dry in the middle.
Once the buds are completely dry, move them to an air-tight container. This is the best way to store them if they are not being used straight away.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Is harvesting lavender easy?
A: Yes, harvesting lavender is straightforward and the more you harvest, the more flowers you will see!
Q: How long does it take to dry lavender?
A: This is entirely dependent on the drying method you choose and the variant – when using a machine, this is usually between 24 and 48 hours, as a dehydrator helps to speed up the process.
Q: What method should you use if making lavender balm?
A: The dehydration method is a better option for those wishing to make creams and balms out of dried lavender as it ensures the lavender blooms are 100% dry.
Q: What uses does dry lavender have?
A: Dried lavender can be used for creating oils and sleep sprays, as well as for flavouring tea.