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Lavender is an Herb

Have you been able to visit your local garden center or Farmer's Market yet to pick up some herb plants for the season?

I have! It was curbside, but I have herbs! I have basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, sage, stevia, rosemary, and, of course, lavender!

My first cutting this season was for spaghetti sauce. Parsley, oregano, and basil.

Now my basil is really taking off. I love basil! Pesto in particular. I freeze it all through the summer to use throughout the rest of the year mixed with pasta, seasoning for all types of one-skillet meals, and anything Italian my husband makes. My daughters especially love it in my baked spaghetti.

Lavender will soon be ready to harvest as well. Lavender is usually known only as a color or a scent, but it is actually an herb. There are several varieties of lavender. The English lavender types like Munstead (dark purple) or Rosea (pink) have less oil and camphor and a much lighter floral taste to be used for cooking. Other varieties like Grosso are better for oil production and aromatherapy and can sometimes taste medicinal or perfumey in recipes.

When using lavender in recipes for the first time, be light handed--a little goes a long way. We find the taste to be exceptionally good in sweets, so we created a digital recipe booklet for a variety of desserts.

With the warm weather here, lavender lemonade is a must!

Lavender is best harvested when the flowers are only in buds the size of rice. Bundle the stems together with a rubberband, and hang upside down to dry. We use our garage for the farm lavender, but I use my hall closet for my home garden herbs.

Fresh lavender can also be used in recipes. A quick recipe is chopped lavender leaves, chopped rosemary leaves, and minced garlic added to softened butter. Excellent on bread, steak, or potatoes. An herby goodness.

Most herbs love to be harvested several times throughout the season. The more you use them, the more they seem to grow!

My hall closet is located right under the attic access and is used for drying all my herbs, but sometimes they dry as an unappetizing color, like rosemary and parsley. The taste is there, but the pretty green color is not. I have found an article on microwave drying to help herbs retain their color. That is on my weekend to do list. Have you ever tried it?

I have my favorite herbs growing on my deck close to the kitchen so I will see them everyday and use them. We also have an herb garden at the farm for our herbal teas. If you would like to start a new hobby, I highly recommend herb gardening! So useful and so rewarding.

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