Culinary lavender and lavender sugars can be both expensive and illusive, and as such makes a lovely home made gift.
Make during the summer for inexpensive thoughtful festive giving.
All manner of uses including added a little to icing and cup cake mixes, sprinkled into biscuit and doughs. Sprinkle onto shortbreads, crystallise edible flowers, adds a subtle hint or level of background flavour to custards, ice cream and sorbets
Be cautious of harvesting lavender from lower ground and once picked, rinse in cold running water then shake the flowers and stems thoroughly. Its not essential but I am inclined to put the flowers unwashed into the microwave for 5-10 seconds to eradicate unwanted critters!
Stand the flowers in an empty glass or vase to air dry for 24 hours. Thereafter place the lavender heads in a brown paper bag, tie the stems in the bag and leave to dry for a few days or up three months. Suspend from a loop of string somewhere warm, dry and airy. Don’t use plastic polythene or greaseproof as this will cause the lavender to sweat and you want to retain the oil. Some of the flowers will drop into the bag, they will initially have the lightest flavour. It is possible to take the lavender straight from the garden, zap for 5 seconds in the microwave, wash and then process but the flavours can be strong, less subtle in fact soapy and Grannyish.
When ready to process as sugar make a small trial batch. Ratio of 1 teaspoon of the dried flowers to 1 cup of golden granulated or white caster sugar. Whizz the lavender and sugar briefly in a processor, alternatively place the sugar and lavender into a strong polythene bag, seal and roll with a rolling pin to crush and incorporate, or use a pestle and mortar. Check the flavour/strength of your initial batch to adjust quantities, reduce or increase by proportion to suit personal taste.
Stores very well for at least a year, place in a sterilised air tight vessel. Decant into pretty glass jars and bottles, label and ribbon as a gift.