Early August is when I met Cece. I was visiting the St. Johns Farmers Market on a Saturday afternoon. When I spotted the booth with the banner “Lilla Lavender”, I went right over to see what they were selling.
Cece and her husband Ray were busy talking with customers. During a lull in the steady stream of customers occurred, I took the opportunity to introduce myself.
“Our farm is located only a few miles away,” Cece said. “It’s a small organic lavender farm situated on a gentle southwest slope with a view of the coastal mountain range.”
As we continued our conversation about cooking with lavender, Cece asked me how I make Lavender Syrup. “I take a cup of water, a cup of sugar and 1 tablespoon of dried lavender buds, blend them in a small sauce pan and…..,” I went on.
Cece reached for a blue bottle, labeled Lavender Water. She handed it to me. “Here I want you to have this,” she said. “I use it to make lavender syrup. I find when I use this lavender water to make syrup, the flavor is consistent. Never too strong or too weak, just right. Try it and let me know what you think.”
I knew lavender water was a byproduct of the distillation process. Lavender plant material including both leaves and flowers are harvested and cooked in a large container. The heat and steam cause the plant’s glands to erupt and release their essential oils. Because the oil is lighter than water, when the steam condenses, the oil rises to the top and separates from the water. The remaining water is known as Lavender Water or hydrosol.
Hydrosol is frequently used to spray on sunburns, to add to your bathwater or to soothe an itch. This was the first I heard of using it to cook with. I was intrigued.
I added 2 ounces to a cup of water and poured it over ice. The drink was too strong, it tasted bitter. I guess I overdid it with the lavender. The next drink I made I used 1 tablespoon with 1 cup of water, poured it over ice. This time it was just right. When I do make syrup, I will use with these proportions: 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon lavender water and 1 cup of sugar.
Thank you, Cece! Discover cooking with lavender has taken on a new meaning since I met you.