Lavender is a flowery herb used primarily in non-culinary applications because of its fragrance, though many use it in the kitchen to provide a floral flavor to foods and drinks. If you grow it in your garden, the right time to harvest it will be when the flower buds are still tightly closed. Tightly closed lavender buds have the greatest concentration of flavor. You should prune lavender plants after they flower in spring, which will give you another set of buds to store. Below are some of the ways to store lavender for the best flavor.
Upright in a container
Like any fresh herb, you can keep lavender fresh in your refrigerator by storing the herb upright in a container of water, similar to how you would keep cut flowers in a vase. Cut the lavender stems at the bases. Cut them at an angle to maximize the surface area that will be underwater. Place the lavender in a mason jar or similar container with about 2 inches of water. Cover with a plastic bag and keep in the refrigerator. The water in the mason jar and the plastic bag cover will both help to keep the lavender from drying out.
In paper towels
Another way to store lavender in your refrigerator is to wrap it in damp paper towels. After wrapping the lavender, place it in a resealable storage bag and keep it in your crisper drawer.
In the freezer
Like most herbs, lavender takes well to freezing. You can use the same methods that work for other aromatic herbs, which are to freeze it in an ice cube tray or to flash freeze it. For the ice cube tray method, place some lavender flowers in the bottom of the compartments and cover them with water. If you plan to use the ice cubes for making cocktails or lemonade, you can add other ingredients at this point like some lemon peel or mint leaves. Place the trays in your freezer and pop the cubes out when they are solid. Store your lavender ice cubes in a resealable freezer bag.
The other method for freezing lavender is to flash freeze the herb. You do this by lining a baking sheet with some wax paper and placing bundles of lavender on it. Position the lavender so that the bundles do not touch each other, and place the baking sheet in the freezer. The result of flash freezing should be frozen lavender bundles that won’t stick together when you store them together in a freezer bag.
Drying is the most traditional way to store lavender, and the herb takes well to it. Not only is it simple, but dried lavender also lasts for months to years if stored properly. The oldest drying method is to air-dry the lavender. Make bundles of the lavender and hang them with string or rubber bands. Choose a location with warm, moving air to dry your lavender. Attics are often the best options. Consider covering the bundles with a paper bag to protect the herb from dust. Poke holes in the bag to provide ventilation.
Lavender dries so easily that you may be able to omit the hanging step and just dry the bundles in paper bags on your kitchen counter. Once the herb is dried, you can remove the flowers from the stems and store them in an airtight container, preferably a glass one. Try not to handle the dried lavender flowers too much, since this can cause them to release their aromatic essential oils.