How to Store Lavender

Storing lavender correctly after harvest is essential for preserving its flavor and fragrance.

Lavender, when dried and stored well, can maintain its qualities for a considerable time.

To ensure your lavender retains its aromatic properties, it is important to store it in optimal conditions.

Once you’ve thoroughly dried your lavender, which is identifiable by the brittle stems and easily crumbling leaves, you’re ready to begin the storage process.

Lavender bundles hang upside down in a cool, dark room. A shelf holds jars filled with dried lavender buds. Baskets of fresh lavender sit on the floor

For the best results, choose an airtight container to protect the dried lavender from outside elements such as air and moisture.

These containers will shield the delicate buds and leaves from humidity and changes in temperature, two factors that can greatly affect the quality of your lavender.

Placement is also crucial; store your container in a cool, dark location.

Direct sunlight or a warm area can cause the lavender to lose its potent aroma and vibrant color.

Selecting and Harvesting Lavender

Harvesting lavender at the correct time and using the right techniques ensures the best quality and longevity of your lavender.

Identifying the Right Time to Harvest

The optimal time to harvest your lavender plants is crucial for maximizing their fragrance and longevity.

Begin by observing the buds on the plant.

You should aim to cut the lavender stems when the first few flowers have bloomed, which typically happens in late spring to early fall.

This ensures a higher concentration of essential oils, which is desirable if you’re using lavender for its scent.

Harvest in the morning after the dew has evaporated but before the heat of the day, as this is when the oils are most concentrated.

Pruning and Cutting Techniques

When you’re ready to prune your lavender, use sharp pruning shears to ensure clean cuts and avoid damaging the plants.

Snip each stem all the way down to the top set of leaves to promote further growth of the plant and shape it for the next season.

Avoid cutting into the woody part of the plant as it may not regrow from there.

For bouquets or bundles, gather a small bunch of stems and cut them to the same length, ideally leaving enough stem length to tie them together.

After cutting, it is essential to handle the fresh lavender gently to prevent bruising.

Preparing Lavender for Storage

When storing lavender, ensuring it is clean and dry is vital for maintaining its quality and fragrance.

By following proper steps for preparation, you can preserve its aromatic properties effectively.

Cleaning and Sorting Lavender

Before drying, it is important to clean your lavender.

Inspect the lavender stems and flowers for any debris or insects and remove them gently.

Organize your lavender by separating any damaged or diseased parts to avoid contaminating the entire batch.

  1. Shake the stems to dislodge loose dirt or bugs.
  2. Check each stem and flower head carefully, removing unwanted particles by hand.
  3. Sort the lavender, setting aside healthy stems for drying.

Drying Lavender Buds and Stems

Drying is a crucial step in the storage process as it helps in preserving lavender’s aroma and properties.

Proper air circulation is required to thoroughly dry lavender.

  • Tie lavender stems into small bundles, ensuring they are not too dense to allow for adequate airflow between the stems.
  • Hang the bundles upside down in a warm, dry area away from direct sunlight to air-dry. A dark space like a closet or shed works excellently.
  • Alternatively, lay the stems out on a baking sheet and place in a warm area with good air circulation. Turn the stems occasionally for even drying.
  • Lavender is adequately dried when the buds are crisp to the touch, typically within 7-10 days, depending on the conditions.

Storing Dried Lavender

Proper storage of dried lavender is essential to maintain its aroma and extend its shelf life. The key factors involve controlling temperature, light, and moisture.

Conditions for Optimal Storage

When storing dried lavender, your aim should be to preserve its delicate scent and prevent mold growth. To achieve this, you must focus on the following environmental conditions:

  • Temperature: Keep the dried lavender in a cool environment, ideally between 60°F to 70°F (15°C to 21°C). Avoid areas where temperatures fluctuate.
  • Humidity: A low-humidity setting is crucial. Excessive moisture can lead to mold and mildew.
  • Light: Store your lavender in a dark place. Excessive light, especially sunlight, can degrade the essential oils.
  • Heat: Keep lavender away from heat sources like radiators or stoves that could dry it out further or accelerate degradation.

Choosing the Right Containers

Selecting appropriate containers is also part of successful storage. Here are some containers to consider:

  • Glass Jars: Place lavender in airtight glass jars, such as mason jars, to protect it from moisture and pests. Ensure a tight seal.
  • Plastic Bags: For short-term storage, resealable plastic bags can suffice. Include paper towels to absorb any residual moisture.
  • Metal Tins: Metal tins with airtight lids are another good option; however, you should ensure they’re free from any residual odors that might transfer.
  • Vacuum-Sealed Bags: If you have a vacuum sealer, vacuum-sealed bags can extend the shelf life by removing air that could cause oxidation.
  • Closet or Cabinet: Always place your chosen container in storage areas like a closet or cabinet that meet the conditions above.

Note: Avoid plastic containers that are not completely airtight as they can allow air and moisture to seep in. If you opt to use a plastic bag temporarily, consider double bagging to increase protection against moisture.

Maintaining Lavender Quality

Lavender bundles hang upside down in a dry, well-ventilated room. A shelf displays jars filled with dried lavender buds

Preserving the scent and color of your lavender is crucial to maintain its quality and potency over time.

Pay attention to avoiding humidity fluctuations and ensure stored lavender remains dry and protected from insects.

Avoiding Common Issues

Moisture: Excess humidity can lead to mold and mildew, compromising the crisp, brittle nature of dried lavender. Use moisture-absorbing packets in your storage containers to combat this risk.

  • Temperature: Keep your lavender in a stable, cool environment, away from heat sources. Extreme temperatures can cause loss of fragrance and potency.
  • Light: Store lavender away from direct sunlight to prevent fading color and a reduction in essential oil quality.
  • Insects: Sealing lavender properly protects it from insect infestation, which can lead to rot and a decrease in quality.

Monitoring and Refreshing Stored Lavender

Visual Inspection: Regularly check your lavender for any signs of mold, mildew, or discoloration. These could indicate that the storage conditions need to be adjusted.

Refreshment Schedule:

  • First 6 Months: Lavender should retain much of its fragrance and color.
  • After 6 Months to One Year: Reevaluate the scent and quality. If the fragrance of the dried lavender has diminished, consider refreshing your stock.

Uses for Stored Lavender

Lavender bundles hang from a wooden beam in a dry, airy room. Mason jars filled with dried lavender sit on a shelf, labeled with the date of harvest

Stored lavender offers a variety of applications, from enhancing flavors in the kitchen to providing aromatic and therapeutic benefits in personal care and crafts.

Proper storage protects the essential qualities of lavender, preserving its floral flavor for culinary use and its aromatic oils for other purposes.

Culinary Applications

Your kitchen adventures can be enriched with the floral flavor of lavender. Use flower buds sparingly in cooking, as they have a potent flavor:

  • Herbal Teas: Add a few dried buds to create a calming tea.
  • Culinary Creations: Incorporate lavender into recipes for a unique herbal note, ideal in baked goods or savory dishes.

Lavender in Aromatherapy and Crafts

Lavender’s aromatic and therapeutic properties make it a versatile component in various crafts and aromatherapy products:

  • Potpourri: Combine dried buds with other herbs for a natural air freshener.
  • Aromatherapy: Use lavender oil or dried buds in diffusers for relaxation.
  • Crafting: Create wreaths or sachets for a touch of fragrance in your home.
  • Therapeutic Oils: Homemade lavender oil can be used for massages or skin care.

Remember to store your dried lavender away from sunlight to maintain its quality and label your crafts with the date to track freshness.

Types of Lavender for Different Uses

Lavender fields with varying types of lavender plants. A storage area with dried lavender bundles in jars and sachets

When considering lavender for your applications, whether they be for culinary, aromatic, or ornamental purposes, it is important to select the appropriate variety.

Each type of lavender offers distinct qualities suited to different uses.

Exploring Lavender Varieties

English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia): This is one of the most popular and widely available varieties. It is known for its sweet fragrance and is commonly used in creating essential oils.

  • Primary Characteristics: Sweet, floral fragrance, ideal for oils and perfumes
  • Bloom Color: Deep purple

French Lavender (Lavandula dentata): Characterized by a stronger, more pungent scent and a shorter blooming season.

  • Primary Characteristics: Pungent aroma, less cold hardy
  • Bloom Color: Typically purple to lilac

Matching Lavender Types to Their Uses

English Lavender: Most suited for essential oils due to its sweet fragrance. This type of lavender oil is often preferred for its therapeutic properties and is used extensively in aromatherapy. Moreover, it’s a preferred choice for culinary use, lending a delicate floral note to dishes.

  • Use in Cooking: Ideal for flavoring baked goods and desserts like scones or ice cream
  • Aromatic Uses: Best for essential oils and fragrant sachets

French Lavender: While not typically used for oil production, French lavender is great for decorative purposes due to its longer stems and distinctive look. Its robust scent also makes it ideal for crafts and potpourris where a stronger fragrance is desired.

  • Decorative Uses: Excellent for fresh floral arrangements and dried bouquets
  • Crafting Uses: Preferred for making potpourris and lavender-infused honey

Packaging and Labeling for Long-Term Storage

Lavender bundles wrapped in brown paper, sealed with twine, labeled "Lavender" with storage instructions

To maintain the quality of lavender over time, your choice of packaging materials and labeling techniques are crucial. A focus on moisture control, air exposure reduction, and clear identification sets the stage for successful long-term storage.

Selecting Packaging Materials

Material Choice: Opt for airtight containers made from glass or metal which offer superior protection against oxidation. These materials ensure that the aromatic and beneficial properties of lavender are preserved.

  • Glass Jars: Ideal for their non-porous nature, ensuring moisture doesn’t seep in.
  • Metal Tins: Provide solid defense against light and air, but ensure they’re lined to prevent any reaction with the lavender.

Moisture Control: Insert moisture-absorbing packets or silica gel packs inside the containers to keep humidity at bay.

Location: Store your packaged lavender in a cool temperature setting, away from direct sunlight to prevent heat damage.

Proper Labeling Techniques

Information to Include:

  • Type of Lavender: Specify the variety, as different types may have unique storage requirements.
  • Date of Storage: Keep track of when you stored the lavender to monitor its shelf life.

Label Application:

  • Secure and Visible: Labels should be affixed securely to the container and easy to read.
  • Protection: Consider using a waterproof label or a clear tape over the label to prevent damage from moisture or handling.

Alternative Storage Techniques

Lavender stored in glass jars, hanging bundles, and cloth sachets. Shelf with labeled containers. Sunlight streaming in

When you’re looking to preserve lavender’s aroma and quality beyond traditional methods, consider alternative approaches that focus on controlling humidity and temperature.

Using Desiccants and Oxygen Absorbers

To maintain lavender’s freshness, desiccants such as silica gel packets can be a game-changer. These moisture-absorbing packets ensure that your lavender stays dry, particularly if stored in environments prone to dampness like an attic. Incorporate them in your storage containers to adsorb excess moisture and protect the fragrance and quality:

  • Silica Gel Packets: Place alongside lavender in airtight containers.
  • Oxygen Absorbers: Use to prevent oxidation and extend shelf life.

Freezing and Refrigeration Methods

Your refrigerator serves as an excellent tool for prolonging the vitality of fresh lavender. Storing lavender in the fridge or freezer can prevent degradation, especially if you first dry it using a food dehydrator to remove all moisture. Here’s how to leverage your fridge and freezer:

  • Fridge Storage: Place lavender in a container of water, upright, like cut flowers.
  • Freezer Storage: Dry lavender completely, then store in an airtight container or freezer bag.

Frequently Asked Questions

Lavender bundles hang from a wooden beam in a rustic barn, with sunlight streaming through the cracks, casting soft shadows on the fragrant herbs

When storing lavender, your main goals are to preserve its aromatic properties, maintain its structure, and extend its longevity. The following frequently asked questions will guide you through the best practices for achieving these objectives.

What are the best methods to dry lavender buds for long-term storage?

To effectively dry lavender buds for long-term storage, hang bunches upside down in a warm, dark, and well-ventilated area. This method allows for even drying while maintaining the buds’ integrity and color. Ensure the bunches are not too dense to promote good air circulation.

What steps should I take to prevent dried lavender from crumbling?

To avoid your dried lavender from crumbling, make sure it is completely dry before storage and handle it gently. Store in a rigid, airtight container to protect from physical damage and prevent humidity from affecting the dried buds.

How can I maintain the fragrance of dried lavender over time?

Store your dried lavender in a dark, cool place in an airtight container to maintain its fragrance. Exposure to light and fluctuating temperatures can diminish the aromatic oils, so minimizing these factors will help preserve the scent longer.

What is the ideal way to store lavender during the winter months?

During winter, the ideal storage for lavender is in a dark, dry, and cool place to prevent mold and the degradation of its oils. If you use a container, ensure it’s airtight to guard against moisture and temperature changes that are common in winter.

How long can freshly cut lavender last and how should it be stored?

Freshly cut lavender can typically last up to one week if stored properly. Place the stems in a jar with water, like cut flowers, and keep them in a cool area away from direct sunlight. Change the water daily to extend their freshness.

Can you provide techniques for quickly drying lavender for use in sachets?

For quick drying, tie small bundles of lavender and hang them upside down in a warm, dry area.

You can also use a food dehydrator set at a low temperature. Ensure proper air flow and check regularly until the lavender is fully dried, which is usually within a few days.

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Cassie brings decades of experience to the Kitchen Community. She is a noted chef and avid gardener. Her new book "Healthy Eating Through the Garden" will be released shortly. When not writing or speaking about food and gardens Cassie can be found puttering around farmer's markets and greenhouses looking for the next great idea.
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