Freezing or Drying Fresh Lavender
Answered by: Yvonne Tremblay
Question from: Billie Feltner
Posted on: November 01, 2005

I have lavender in my garden and would like to have it fresh looking, not dried to use in lemon cookies at Christmas time. Can I freeze it and have it maintain its color to use in cookies?

I have never frozen lavender myself as it dries well and retains its flavour for a long time, especially if stored away from light and heat, in a glass jar. I dry them in bunches, heads down in a paper bag with an elastic wrapped around the stems on the outside of the bag. I also poke some air holes in the bag with the tip of a knife. The bag is stored in a dry place (not in the kitchen usually). As soon as they are dry, which may only take a few days, remove the heads from the stems and place whole in a glass jar. Florets may also be removed from the heads but be careful not to handle them too much as they will release their flavoured oils. When ready to use in cooking, measure florets, then rub slightly with hands to release some of the oils.

Freezing herbs, in general, is another method of preserving their delicate flavour. Some herbs dry well. My guideline is that if they do, I dry them, if not, I freeze them. For instance, robust herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, dill, mint, savory and bay leaf retain good flavour when dried. I prefer to freeze herbs like parsley, chives, basil, cilantro and marjoram. I often will freeze herbs as herb butters. (Freeze the lavender, lemon an butter called for in the recipe together. Shape into a log and wrap well with plastic wrap and a freezer bag or use a small freezer container.) The flavour of the fresh herb goes into the butter itself. If there is butter in your cookies, you might try this method. Okay to freeze up to 6 months.

Freezing breaks down the plant cell structure and changes the texture of fresh herbs when they thaw. What I am not sure of is what condition the lavender will be in when it thaws (sort of soggy perhaps) and whether the added moisture will affect your cookies or not. But, if you wish, give it a try and please let us know the result. Use glass or good quality freezer containers as you don’t want freezer burn, moisture or flavour loss, or odours from other foods in your freezer to penetrate your herbs.

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