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August 1999 Issue
Lavandula angustifolia -- Lavender
by Rossana S. Tarantini
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This month's column is especially for a loyal reader. It seems she has some lavender in her garden and needs to know what to do with it. It set me a bit of a challenge since lavender is one of those things I rarely use. I needed to do some research!

A quick search of the web netted me a site that was just brimming with information. Visit and then follow the links. There's a wealth of information here.

Lavender grows as a low shrub-like bush. It has narrow, pointed, grey-green leaves and spiky purple flowers. It has a sweet, slightly sharp, pungent flavour. Although it has a limited culinary value -- the flowers are used most often for their decorative value -- it is used medicinally and cosmetically. It has a symbolic meaning too -- it is known to signify the recognition and acceptance of love!

Gently bruise four spikes of lavender with flowers open, no stems, and bury them in one cup of sugar in a sealable container and let them macerate for two weeks, shaking the jar every day. Before using, strain out the flowers. Sprinkle it over fruit salads, use it to make ice cream, add it to cake batters, or whip it into cream cheese frostings. This sugar will keep for a month, if it lasts that long!

A few handfuls of lavender flowers into a facial steam have excellent cleansing and toning values. Add a pinch or two of lavender flowers to your next herbal tea or tisane to enhance its relaxation qualities.


Lavender Cleansing Cream

Lavender refreshes and feeds the skin. This cleanser is great for dry skin as it helps to replenish natural oils.
  • 6 tbsp almond oil
  • 10 tbsp grated white wax
  • 3 tbsp lavender water
  • 1 drop of oil of lavender (optional)
Melt the oil and wax in the top of a double boiler. Remove from heat, allow to cool slightly, then beat in the lavender water, cider vinegar, and oil of lavender. Pour the cream into a lidded jar. do not refrigerate.

Smooth the lotion over your face and neck avoiding the eye area and remove with cotton pads.

  • Yields: about 1 cup


Lavender Water

This is an ingredient in the above recipe for cleanser, but can also be used as an after bath splash.
  • 2 cups lavender flowers
  • 2 pints distilled water, brought to a boil
  • 2 tbsp vodka
Pour the lavender flowers into a heatproof container. Pour the boiling water over them and stir well. Cover and allow to infuse for 48 hours, stirring occasionally.

Strain the liquid through a nonmetallic strainer, pressing the flowers to extract the maximum fragrance. Stir in the vodka, pour into bottles, cover and label.

  • Yields: 2 pints

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