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Drying or preserving lavender

Do not dry your herbs in the sun. Common wisdom says to "Dry them quickly," but direct sun will cause lavenderto fade, both in color and in intensity.

Instead, you can spread them out flat to dry if you have unlimited table space. Or tie them in bundles and hang them upside down some place - preferably up high. Hang them from hooks or nails or thumb tacks. And, don't leave them there all summer, fall and winter. They will gather dust, and they will lose potency in time. Once they are thoroughly dry, store them someplace more sheltered, though less scenic.

To retain the full flavor and fragrance of lavender (and of other herbs to be used for cooking) store them in containers, preferably glass or pottery with tightly fitting covers. Otherwise, the oils will in time escape.

For long stems, try wrapping them in tissue paper and keeping them in a carton, drawer or chest. When storing freshly dried herbs in closed containers, you will do well to check them during the first weeks for signs of mildew. Turn them out now and then, spread the herbs loosely, sniff them, touch them, look closely. If all is well, re-pack them.

For culinary use, remember that lavender is strong. Use a light hand.