When we mention the word "HARVEST" here in wine country our first thoughts go to grapes but we have another harvest that happens here first- LAVENDER!
I'm happy to report from our growers that this will be a fabulous year for lavender- both in quantity and quality. The buds were slow to blossom due to the cooler spring but now that the temperatures are going up the blossoms are looking great. Harvest time is right around the corner with our growers eyeing the last week of June and first week of July as pick time.
Just like wine, things have only begun once the grower has picked the fragrant stem from its root. The lavender will either be bunched and hung to dry or readied for immediate processing to make essential oils. It is important that the flower be distilled as soon as possible after picking to maximize the quality of the oil that is produced. Depending on the size of the farm, this can take 2-3 weeks and means 18 hour days for the farmers. Beyond being labor intensive, this process requires skill and intuitiveness. As I have studied hands on with different growers over the years, I can't help but think of their winemaking counterparts and how much they all have in common.
Here in Sonoma County, the spirit of lavender harvest lives in restaurants like Girl and the Fig as they feature a Lavender Mojito and Lavender Honey Toast as well as Nimble and Finn's Lavender Honeycomb ice cream.
One of the summer traditions in our home is to make lavender lemonade. Not only is it tasty, it gives the kids something to do on those summer days when "There is NOTHING to do!". Here is our recipe:
1 cup raw honey (local if you can get it- we love Hector's Honey here in Sonoma County)
5 cups water
2 tbs dried lavender ( if you can't find a local grower purchase culinary lavender. I like the ones from Matanzas Creek or Mountain Rose Herbs)
1 cup lemon juice, fresh squeezed
1) Bring 2.5 cups water to a boil in a medium pan
2) Remove from heat and add honey, stir to dissolve
3) Add the lavender to the honey water; cover and steep for at least 20 minutes and up to a couple of hours. You can put the lavender in a tea infuser for easier clean up
4) Strain mixture and discard lavendar
5) Pour infusion into a glass pitcher
6) Add lemon juice and the rest of the water to taste. Stir well.
7) Refrigerate until ready to use.
8) Pour into tall glasses, half filled with ice
9) THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP: Sit somewhere and enjoy The Moment
Wishing you beauty, balance and wellness this summer season. See you back here in two weeks for more detailed information about lavender and why it is so good for your health.