Harvesting, Drying, and Cleaning Lavender
Lavender should be harvested when right before the flowers blossom. It's the lavender bud that is desirable for culinary and fragrance purposes. Watch the lavender bud as it develops, waiting until it is full and prolific, but not blossomed out yet. To harvest, gather a bundle of lavender stems in your hand, and then with a pair of kitchen shears or a cutter, cut the bundle. It's desirable to have a stem of 12 or more inches. Tie together with an elastic band and hang upside down to dry. If some of the lavender stems have started to blossom, the petals will fall to the floor. These can be swept up and discarded. Once the bundle is completely dry, remove it from the drying rack. Working over a bucket or large container, remove the dried lavender bud from the stems. It's helpful to wear cotton gloves when doing this to protect your hands. Discard the stems. Clean the lavender by removing large pieces of stems and leaves. You can do this by placing over a large screen or by picking them out one by one. Then it's time to work the lavender bud to get only the best part, discarding the other non-desirable bits and pieces that are too small to pick out by hand. And old window screen works well for this task. With your hands, work the lavender over the screen, allowing lavender dust and other particulates through the mesh. When you are done cleaning a portion of lavender bud, all you'll have left on the screen is the good lavender bud for culinary and fragrance purposes. It's clean and fragrant! The dust that went through the screen can be discarded along with the blossoms, bits, and pieces that you cleaned out previously. And that --- is how you work lavender to get the best for you! And a reminder, if you use lavender for culinary purposes, please make sure it's organic!