Just because lavender flowers die off each autumn, you don’t necessarily need to lose out on that wonderful year-round scent.
As it turns out, drying lavender is surprisingly easy, and then continues to produce it’s heady scent for years into the future. Placed into small muslin bags, or into a bowl on the windowsill, your dried lavender flowers can continue to bring you pleasure right throughout the year.
There are a number of different strategies for drying lavender that you may find online. The key is to dry the flowers thoroughly and reasonably quickly, so that you lock in the scent, rather than allowing the flowers to wilt and turn brown. Of all the various methods I’ve tried over the years, here’s my favourite (which is also, arguably the easiest of all).
Harvest the Flowers
Start the process in summer, when the blooms are at their very best. Fresher flowers will mean easier drying and longer scent, so don’t wait until the end of the season, as the heads start to die off.
What you’ll want to do is work your way around your lavender bushes, gently grasping the flowering stems towards the base, then snip them off with a pair of secateurs. Ideally you’ll want some 6-12 inches of stem for each flower head, so this process can be a little fiddly and take some time. The results, however, are worth it.
Make a Drying Line
Next, you’re going to want somewhere to actually dry your harvested lavender. Lying the springs down on a tray is a popular method, but in my experience the underside often doesn’t dry thoroughly enough.
If you’re not careful you’ll end up spending huge amounts of time rearranging and rotating your lavender flowers to ensure they dry evenly. You also won’t get too many into each tray.
An easier, and more efficient, route involves hanging lavender from pieces of string – rather like on a washing line.
You’ll want this line to be in a dry, warm place. A greenhouse, or in a shed that gets a decent amount of direct sunshine tends to work well. Depending on how much lavender you’ve harvested, gather enough string to make these “drying lines” and also figure out how you’ll attach them at either end.
Tie Up the Lavender
So you’ve got your lavender, and you’ve decided where you’re going to dry it. The next step involves actually attaching it to the drying line.
Possibly the easiest method here is simply to grab a handful of the stems, and then tie them together using the string. Then grab another bunch and tie these together a few inches away from the first bunch. Keep going until you run out of lavender flowers or string.
Hang to Dry
Once you’ve got your drying line, with your lavender blooms carefully attached, simply hang this up. The flowers will hang down, where warm air can easily move between them to begin the drying process.
Keep an eye on your lavender during the drying process, which can take some weeks. Once the stems and flowers become noticeably dry and “crispy” then the process is complete.
Remove the Flowers from the Stems
Once your lavender stems have dried, it’s simply a matter of crumbling the heads, so that the little blue flowers fall gently off their stems. For ease, try doing this over an old sheet, so that they can easily be collected up. Once the stems are bare, your dried lavender flower heads are then ready for use.