Lavender (Lavandula vera or Langustifolia)

The use of lavender has been recorded for more than 2,500 years. Did you know that Egyptians, Phoenicians and the people of Arabia used lavender as a perfume but and also for mummification? They did so by wrapping the dead in lavender-dipped burial clothes. The ancient Greeks called lavender Nardus or Spikenard, named after the Syrian city of Naarda. The English word derives from the Latin lavare (to wash) referring to the properties of the plants. Lavender is one of the most recognised scents in the world –fresh, floral, clean and calm. The plant thrives in sunny, warm, well drained soils and its wonderful cyan flowers appear –depending on the area- from June to August. This fragrant aromatic and relaxing herb can be used in baking, lotion making, gourmet cooking, tea making, tinctures and more. Its popular essential oil is cleansing and refreshing and has a soothing and anti-inflammatory effect on skin, body and mind.

A number of refreshing ideas on how to make the most out of the lavender dried flowers:

Herbal tea: add chamomile as well, steep the herbs in hot (not boiling water) for a few minutes and add honey if desired.

Marinades: can replace rosemary in most savoury recipes – just use double quantity of lavender. The aromatic oils of the lavender compliment meat or fish in a lovely herbal-smoked way. Also, when the dried herb is combined with lemon juice and olive oil, works lovely with pork or lamb. Marinate for several hours before grilling for a delicious rich flavour.

Infused vinegar: add a handful of the lavender buds to 2 cups white wine or apple cider vinegar. Let the mix sit for up to 6 weeks, shaking every few days. Strain before use.

Salad dressing: whisk together 6 Tbsp olive oil, 2 Tbsp balsamic or apple cider vinegar, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove, 2 Tbsp honey, 1 tsp each mustard powder & dried lavender flowers.

Fragrant custard: Infuse the warmed milk -for the custard- with 1/4 cup chopped lavender flowers to each 2 cups of liquid. Heat the mixture to boiling for an hour or two, than strain out the lavender; the fragrant milk can be used in various desserts such as fruit tarts, eclairs or biscuits.

Drinks: mix the flowers in drinks or spice up your favourite cocktails.

Skin toner: prepare a skin spray with diluted mineral water infused with dried flowers.

Air freshener: simmer the dried herb in a pot of water with some citrus peels.

Perfumed sachets: add lavender buds to a muslin bag inside your wardrobe or, place the bag under the pillowcase at bedtime for relaxing sleep.

Pop by our stall at Borough Market and try our wonderful wild lavender –straight from the mountains of Epirus or order online!

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