Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Homemade Lavender Lemonade and a trip to Hitchin Lavender Farm



A friend recently told me about a wonderful lavender farm in Hitchin, Hertfordshire so Sunday afternoon we bundled into the car and drove the short 20 minute trip to meet her there.  First up we had a cuppa and cake in the lovely barn tea-room and a mooch around the gift shop.  As well as all manner of lavender products and garden accessories, there was a huge selection of different varieties of lavender on sale.




It honestly was one of the nicest days out we've had in ages and fantastic value for money too I thought.  Entrance is £4 for adults and children go free.  Each adult is presented with a carrier bag and loaned a pair of scissors and you can pick a whole bag full of lavender at no extra cost.



The nursery section had all the plants labelled in rows with every shade from the white Edelweiss through to deep dark purples.  I even spotted my namesake.



But was when you turned the corner to the actual farm fields of lavender that the sheer scale, not to mention the heady aroma really hit you.  Miles of row upon row upon row of stunning lavender in full bloom.  It was a pure joy.Ruby was off like a rocket, chasing up and down the rows.




I have never seen so many different types of bees and they were fascinating to watch, busily going about their work.  If you stop and stand still in the middle of the row, you can literally hear the whole place humming.  I must admit, I did have a little Hitchcock-esque freak out at that moment.  Trapped halfway up a row, no escape and it suddenly dawned on me that I was surrounded by thousands of bees.  A bit like that sickening vertigo feeling you get when you look down from a tall ladder and suddenly realise how high up you are - you are filled with an equal measure of wanting to run to safety, and being rooted to the spot with fear.



But bees are good.  Bees don't hurt you for no reason, and after a gentle talking to myself, I calmed down and carried on. There was picking to be done.

The Old Man demonstrated his hitherto unseen floristry skills and proved that real men pick flowers.  He was quite expert at getting all the stems the right length.




If you are local you really must pop along.  We had such a beautiful afternoon there, and they are open every day until September 15th, they are even holding outdoor cinema events and we've booked to go back and see Breakfast at Tiffany's one evening in August - I can't wait.

So, what to do with all this lavender?  Luckily Red Ted Art hosted a craft hangout all about lovely lavender, so do check out the video below and the links for loads of ideas and how-tos.

I made lavender lemonade which is just perfect as a cool long drink served over ice on a hot summer's day. Delicately floral and perfectly refreshing.


Ingredients:

5 lemons
2 limes
1 litre water (plus another litre once cooled)
30g sugar
handful of lavender stems

Method:

Put a litre of water into a saucepan and dissolve the sugar.  Remove from heat once boiling.  Meanwhile, juice all the fruit and pour into a jug or bowl.  Add the lavender flowers.  Pour over the hot syrup and leave to steep for a few hours.


Once it has cooled completely, strain off the liquid through a sieve and muslin cloth.  Either drink immediately, or bottle and keep in the fridge for a few days.

To serve, dilute 50:50 with chilled water - still for a traditional lemonade, or use sparkling mineral water for a fizzy drink.  Serve over ice with a slice of lemon, a sprinkle of lavender flowers and a stem of lavender.




Lavender Craft Hangout



Red Ted Art - Lavender Wandskid's easy make lavender bags; lavender bath sachets; no-sew lavender pillows

Kid's Chaos - Lavender Scones

Bear Blue Wood - Lavender cookies, Lavender sugar and Lavender tea

Domestic Goddesque - Lavender fans  and bath scrub

Jenni Fischer - Lavender play-doh, Lavender bath goodies

35 comments:

  1. This looks delicious. Will be making some of this over the weekend. Try Lavender Tea using just a flower head xxx

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    1. I will try that, bet it helps with sleep too x

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  2. Love it love it love it all! Got a lavender farm near us that I wanted to go to in May but the farmer said there was nothing to see then! Definitely going to try and get a trip in this summer!

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    1. I think June to September is the time to visit. I knew there was a famous one in Norfolk, but i had no idea there was one near us, I'm so pleased my friend suggested it.

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  3. Oooh that looks so beautiful. I want to visit.
    I'm going to try your drink too I love lemon flavours in a drink but have never tried lavender.

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    1. Oh let me know what you think. It's quite subtle and delicate, I might add more next time :0)

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  4. Oh. My. Word. I want to go there. The photographs you took are amazing Liz. Love the shot of you making the lemonade. I'm going to pin and share. Fab post!!

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  5. Looks (and reads) like it was an idyllic day out. Your photographs are beautiful. I'd love to make the lavender lemonade - but will have to wait till my no-sugar month is over, sob!

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    1. Thank you Molly. How long to go now? You're a better man than I! x

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    2. six days left Liz. Can you believe I've not touched a drop in 24 days - even with your moonshine sittign here winking at me ;)

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  6. I can almost smell the lavender from your lovely photos. A great twist on a classic recipe. Hope you will share with me on Country Kids.

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    1. Thank you Fiona, I will of course link up on Saturday x

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    2. Thanks for coming over and sharing with Country Kids Liz.

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  7. Green with envy! I still can't get the hang of growing lavender here in southwest Louisiana. Great photos.

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    1. I still haven't mastered growing it myself. I think next time I visit I'll book on one of the guided tours and try to get some insider tips! x

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  8. My goodness. Your photos are gorgeous! I love your lavender experience. We have lavender growing in our yard, but it is not nearly so vibrant right now because of the excessive heat we're having and lack of rain. I need to remember to water it! Thanks so much for including our lavender experiences. I am hoping to share more soon. Wish I could have joined the hangout!

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    1. Hope to 'meet' you one day on one of the hangouts.

      I don't have much joy myself growing lavender, so I'm really glad to have found this place so nearby. x

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  9. That is going on my 'summer holiday days out' list - although I suspect the children will be nagging me to stop taking photos! looks lovely and we could use to make the school shoe shopping trip so much nicer!

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    1. Oh definitely a nice treat after the dreaded school shoes outing!

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  10. I love your lavender know-how. We have lavender growing in our backyard, but it is not nearly so vibrant right now because of the unwarranted heat we're having and need of rain.

    Regards,
    Tahitian Noni Juice

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    1. Thank you so much. I think it likes fairly dry conditions, but expect there's a limit! x

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  11. Wow! I'm so going! And I'm making your lemonade too!

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  12. Lovely photos! I really want to make this lemonade, might give it a try this week :-)

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  13. I never did make it to the fair in Hemel on Sunday, hubby wasn't too keen, but this looks almost better! I didn't even know there was a lavender farm in Hitchin. We have some lavender in our back garden, so I may well try this tomorrow. It looks really refreshing!

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  14. Beautiful photos. We have a lavender farm near us. Slowly turning our garden into a mini lavender farm. We cook, wash and perfum with it. Can't really beat it!

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  15. Gorgeous. We went to a lavender festival recently and had lavender tea which was lovely and came home and made lavender cookies, highly recommended.

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  16. Truly gorgeous photos. And I now really want to go to a lavender farm, as it looks like a brilliant family day out - thank you for sharing x

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  17. Oh wow such beautiful photos, we have lavender growing in our garden so I have been meaning to use it for something so I really must try this lemonade. They do however attract bees like nothing else, yes bees are very very good but I literally swell up like ballon if I get stung so I would of panicked in your position.
    Just popping over from country kids

    Laura x
    www.sidestreetstyle.com

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  18. oooh looks like a wonderful place to visit. x

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  19. This is 5 mins from me and I always end up with so much lavender from trips over the summer that I have no idea what to do with it all. Your lemonade is definitely on the list now!

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  20. What stunning pictures x

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