Blast From the Past
In choosing the herbs for my garden this year, I went a little overboard with the lavender. I’ve mentioned my fondness for lavender before, but it bears repeating. I find the scent of lavender heavenly and the color of the flowers alluring, so much so that I named my cat Lavender. I like tossing the fresh buds in cookies, herbal teas, and even ice cream. And of course, the dried flowers make great sachets for dresser drawers.
However, with four large plants blooming like mad in my garden right now (I’m harvesting massive handfuls every day!), I decided it was time to do something with the buds that I hadn’t thought to do in awhile – make an herbal vinegar.
When I was in high school, I had a subscription to some wholesome teenage girl’s magazine. Among the articles I read and re-read (it was my only magazine), there was a how-to for giving yourself a facial using stuff around the house, such as vinegars, egg whites, olive oil, and sugar. I quickly decided it was very important for me to have a facial every week. After a few of them, I started getting craftier with my ingredients. The article called for just plain white vinegar diluted with water to act as a toner. My grandmother had some lavender in her flower beds, and I tossed the buds in the vinegar bottle one night. It was heavenly.
As an acne-prone teeny bopper, I never thought to go so far as to eat the diluted herbal vinegar. But now as a grown-up, I can see this purple elixir for something more. It adds a light floral note to salads, and dinner guests will be intrigued by the gorgeous bottle of it sitting on the table. You can also add it to oil for a dressing. Or, repeat history, and dilute it for a relaxing facial toner.
All this reminds me of the other great tip I learned from that magazine article. If you mix equal parts olive oil and sugar, it makes an amazing exfoliating rub. The sugar does the exfoliating while the oil moisturizes. It’s perfect for getting dirt off your hands after digging in the garden.
Lavender Infused Vinegar
¼ C. fresh lavender buds
1 t. lemon zest
1 C. white wine vinegar
Gently wash lavender buds in cool water. Leave to air dry on a paper towel for an hour. In a clean jar, place lavender buds and lemon zest. Pour in the vinegar. Seal the jar tight and shake vigorously. Place on a window sill and shake once a day for at least two weeks and up to four weeks.
To use, pour through a strainer and simmer (don’t boil) in a non-reactive pan for a few minutes. Return vinegar to the rinsed out jar and cover tightly. Store in a cool dark location for up to a year.
To use, sprinkle over salads or add to more elaborate salad dressings. Or use as a facial toner by diluting it one part vinegar to eight parts water.
(makes 1 cup)