Home-Made Lavender Sugar Recipe

lavender sugar

Lavender Sugar is one of those things I’ve always looked at and loved the idea of, but never really known what to do with. I’ve always liked crystallised lavender – it’s both pretty and tasty – but aside from medicinal or household use, I’ve never really known how to actually use lavender in food. Partly due to its strong flavour and partly due to its very floral flavour, it’s something you have to use with care, but should definitely use!lavender sugar Making lavender sugar couldn’t really be simpler – the two ingredients are in the name, after all. If you don’t have a food processor you can just mix the two and stir, but I like making the sugar just a little finer, so it’s not so crunchy. Be careful though – I don’t like making it icing sugar either! Just a finely granulated sugar is perfect.

Leave the lavender for a week or so, allowing the flavours to infuse thoroughly into the sugar.  You can make Lavender Sugar ahead as a hostess gift, Christmas gifts, wedding favours and other gifting opportunities, and even include a recipe card or two with the jar. It’s a cheap and beautiful gift to make!lavender sugar

Make the Lavender Sugar two weeks before you’re going to gift it, and make sure to leave instructions to use withing 9 -12 months, so aside from drying out, I can’t image the lavender would go bad!

Recipe for Lavender Sugar

Lavender Sugar Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert, Sweet, Condiment
Cuisine: Foraged
Serves: 1kg
  • 2 tsp lavender flowers
  • 1kg white sugar
  1. Use a fork or your hands to remove the flowers from the stalk
  2. Add them to the food processor
  3. Add the sugar and blend together - depending on your food processor, adjust your speed to make sure you don't end up with icing sugar.
  4. In the Thermomix®, hit the Turbo button 2 - 3 times quickly.
  5. Decant the sugar into jars, and seal tightly.


lavender sugar

How To Make Fruit Vinegar

Foraging is a fantastic activity, but it’s hard work, so you want to utilise every scrap to best effect in whichever way you can.

Once I’ve made a syrup  from the berries I’ve harvested, I’m loathed to throw them out. Some say you can put them in an ‘adult pie’ or ice cream, but that doesn’t always work – blackberries, for example, are white as snow by the time the flavour’s been sucked out of them, or there’s simply nothing left of them.  Other fruits, however, like rose hips, hawthorns and elderberries, have enough left in them to make something else out of. Like second-use tea bags, they’re not the ultimate flavour, but they may just work out okay.

balsamic vinegar

I have a bundle of 100ml jars specifically for this purpose – when I’ve made a syrup, I pop the pulp into the jar and top it with vinegar – if it doesn’t work out, I’ve lost about 50ml vinegar. If it does work out… I have a delicious new fruit vinegar to enjoy.

Some fruits – like elderberries or fresh blackberries – will pretty immediately change the colour of the vinegar, but I’d still suggest leaving it for a few days – although I have also done it about a year down the line, having forgotten about it! Others – like hawthorn – may take about a day to change the colour of the vinegar, but it’ll come.

To start, you’ll need equal parts fruit to vinegar, so lets say 600g fruit to 600ml apple cider vinegar. Now, I don’t normally set out to make vinegar, but rather use leftover bits of fruit or used pulp to make the vinegar, so you can be flexible with the amounts. I tend to use what I have, cover it with vinegar, and hope for the best!

That makes the next bit a little more tricky – or a good opportunity to practice maths and fractions!

After  at least four days of soaking in the vinegar, strain out the fruit and pour the vinegar into a pot on a medium heat.  For every 600ml liquid you need about 300g sugar – add less or more, depending on how sweet or how thick you want the vinegar. Add the sugar and stir till it is all dissolved. Leave to simmer for 15-25 minutes (adjusting depending on how much you’ve started with – the longer it boils the thicker it will be) without a lid on, which will reduce the liquid into a thick and delicious vinegar for dressings or dipping. If it’s not thick enough, simmer a little longer, but do bear in mind that as the vinegar cools, it’ll thicken too.

True balsamic improves with age. If you’re disciplined and have the space, use 3/4 of your vinegar now, but put aside a small jar of each batch in the back of the cupboard somewhere. I discovered a forgotten blackberry balsamic in the back of a cupboard when we moved house – it was about five years old, thick, sweet and incredible!

How To Make Fruit Vinegar
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 600g fruit
  • 600ml white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 300g sugar
  1. In a glass jar, add fruit and cover with vinegar. Leave for at least four days, shaking whenever you pass by it.
  2. When it's taken on good colour, strain out the fruit and pour the vinegar into a pot on a medium heat.
  3. Add the sugar and stir till it is all dissolved.
  4. Leave to simmer for 20 - 25 minutes without a lid on, which will reduce the liquid into a thick and delicious vinegar for dressings or dipping.
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. In a glass jar, add fruit and cover with vinegar. Leave for four days, shaking whenever you pass by it.
  2. After four days, strain out the fruit and pour the vinegar into the Thermomix®.
  3. Add the sugar 15 mins/ Varoma/speed 1/ NO MC


Making Salves And Moisturiser From Garden Weeds

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While I’ll be the first to agree that we’ve made wonderful advances in medicine in the last century, I do think that we’ve lost a lot too, and that being able to harness some of nature’s ‘freebies’ – or at least having the knowledge on how to – is an essential skill (you know, in case of zombie apocalypse, or something 😉 )

I’ve recently read Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, where the main protagonist, Claire is a World War 2 nurse who falls through a circle of standing stones in Scotland of 1948 and lands in Scotland of 1739, just before the doomed Stuart Rising. The series is fantastic in its own right, but one of the things in that I’m fascinated by is Claire’s knowledge of herbs and how she puts it to use in a world pre-penicillin and medicines in pill form.  There have been some things that I’ve felt a thrilled jolt of ‘hey, I do that!’ such as the use of lavender for pain relief, but there have been other things new to me, like the use of Comfrey, good for haemorrhoids, broken bones and heavy periods alike.

If you can’t pick fresh comfrey, you can find it dried online.

Garden Weed: Comfrey

Now, while Claire often brews comfrey as a tea, there have been concerns raised in real time, in the real world about toxic properties that can cause liver cancer. And if you’ve ever made Comfrey as a fertiliser for your growing plants, you may have concerns about drinking it too! (It smells. Really bad.)

Before making use of plants as medicinals, it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to know what you’re doing. Comfrey, can be used topically, according to my big book of Nature’s Medicines (and other sources, but check for yourself anyway!) Start here: there’s a whole page, but the short is that comfrey topically has been shown to act as an analgesic in muscle and bone pain, but orally can make you very sick, quite quickly. By very sick I mean liver disease.

As it happens, on my allotment plot I have two large comfrey bushes, so I decided I wanted to make a comfrey ointment to rub on my wrists, which often ache from too many hours spent at the computer – comfrey is also known as Bone-Knit in the books, and is used for arthritis and muscle and joint pain. If it doesn’t work, at least the coconut oil makes my skin nice and soft!

While I was ‘harvesting’ (aka picking!) my comfrey, I realised that my plot really needed weeding as it was covered in plantain – the weed, not the small banana – and a memory tweaked somewhere in the back of my mind that plantain is also really very good for the skin, everything from rashes to insect bites, so I grabbed some of that for my ointment too.weeds-salve

Garden Weed: Plantain

According to my big book of Nature’s Medicines, plantain leaves contain iridoids called aucubin, and flavonoids – antioxidants that strengthen blood vessels and are often anti-inflammatory.

Plantain is a fascinating herb, actually. It has been shown to work in wound healing activity, anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antioxidant, weak antibiotic, immuno modulating and antiulcerogenic activity [ref]1. Samuelsen, Anne Berit (July 2000). “The traditional uses, chemical constituents and biological activities of Plantago major L. A review”.Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 77 (1-2): 1. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(00)00212-9. ISSN 0378-8741[/ref]. It has been used traditionally to treat  to treat wounds[ref]Duke, James (2001). Handbook of Edible Weeds. CRC Press. p. 151. ISBN 9780849329463.[/ref], as well as to treat fever and respiratory infections[ref]Duke, James (2001). Handbook of Edible Weeds. CRC Press. p. 151. ISBN 9780849329463.[/ref].  A tea of plantain leaves can be ingested to treat diarrhoea or dysentery. Due to the high vitamin and mineral content, plantain tea simultaneously replenishes the nutrients lost as a result of diarrhea[ref]Duke, James (2001). Handbook of Edible Weeds. CRC Press. p. 151. ISBN 9780849329463.[/ref].  Adding fresh plantain seeds or flower heads to a tea will act as an effective lubricating and bulking laxative and soothe raw, sore throats[ref]Tilford, Gregory L. & Gladstar, Rosemary (1998). From Earth to Herbalist: An Earth-Conscious Guide to Medicinal Plants. Mountain Press. p. 160. ISBN 9780878423729[/ref]. And the amazing thing about plantain? It’s everywhere! I see it in the park, in the fields, on sidewalks… everywhere you find lawns!

If you can’t pick fresh plantain, you can buy the dried leaves online.

Garden Weed: Marigold / Calendula

I also had a surplus of Marigold or Calendula in my plot this year, thanks to some heavy-handed sowing. Marigolds have a huge array of medicinal uses from circulatory problems to oral hygiene and eczema and more – again, according to the book. I’ve also used it in the past in herbal sitz baths, post birth and when my daughter had a nappy rash no cream seemed to touch, a calendula balm healed her quite literally overnight, so I am a big believer in its healing abilities.

If you can’t pick fresh calendula, you can buy the dried leaves online

Drying Your Garden Weeds

Once picked, I had to decide how I intended on utilising these leaves since I have tried infusing leaves in oil before, only to end up with mold due to the water in the leaves, so the first job was dehydrating the leaves. I have a lovely shiny new dehydrator, so I put it to use immediately, drying out the leaves. Now, in some herbs, the potency will increase due to drying, but since we’re not eating or drinking this ointment, I’m okay with that.

I’ve made these ointments with olive oil, but it has a filmy consistency and an odd smell, and it seems less adaptable to temperature changes. Coconut oil might go to a clear liquid on a hot day, take a few days as a lumpy looking mess, but it will return to its solid state, eventually. weeds-infused

The ointment can also be made and kept for a really long time in that ‘ointment’ state. I keep it in the jars (pictured above) and transfer it to smaller jars as required so that I’m not always dipping my finger into the main jar. This can then also be decanted out to make a moisturiser, lip balm, or whatever.

Quantities are very loosely defined here. I don’t think you can really get it ‘wrong’ and when I say ‘a cup’, I don’t necessarily mean a 250ml measure, though if that’s what you want to use, go for it. It’s more about keeping the quantities relative to each other.

There are three ‘steps’ here, each with a different result. I have made it the following way.

For the dried herbs: 

  • 1 loosely packed cup each of comfrey, calendula and plantain

In a dehydrator, or in a low oven, dehydrate at 70C for 12 hours – or follow the settings for your machine. The main point is for them to be free of moisture.

For the basic coconut oil infusion:

  • Place each herb type in its own jar. I use these, with a layer of brown paper inside the lid to cover the hole. You can use regular jars, Kilner jars, or whatever fits conveniently into your slow cooker or crockpot.
  • Bring the coconut oil to a liquid state – in a sink of warm water if your kitchen isn’t warm enough.
  • Pour the coconut oil over the leaves to cover them and put the slow cooker on it’s lowest setting. You DON’T want to cook this mixture, you just want to keep the coconut oil liquid enough to extract the oils from the plants, and keeping the leaves warm enough to help release them.
  • Add a cup of water to the slow cooker, put the sealed jars inside and place the lid on. Leave it on the lowest setting for at least 24 hours, 48 if you can.
  • You’ll see the colour of the oil starting to change before too long, and the colour will deepen as the natural oils are extracted from the leaves.
  • After 24 – 48 hours, discard the hot water and use coffee filters or a fine mesh bag to filter the leaves out of the oil. You should now be left with beautifully coloured liquid coconut oil. Put this aside to cool and harden, or pour some into smaller jars for regular use, to keep in your handbag (really useful for insect stings or nettle stings!)


To make a moisturiser

The reason I make the infusion in bulk is partly because I like using a home made moisturiser, but as it is water-based, it doesn’t have the shelf life of a chemical moisturiser. That said, I still use a jar in about 1 – 3 months, so it doesn’t have to be made up weekly or anything.

For this moisturiser, I use a mixture of the coconut oil infusion, a couple of tablespoons of grated beeswax and about 1/2 – 1 cup of water. Remember, the size of the cup isn’t as relevant as the quantities in relation to each other, but I use a 250ml cup.  The more water you use, the thinner it will be.  I quite like it hardening to its coconut oil state and turning almost to liquid in my hand, so I use:

  • 1 cup coconut oil infusion (I tend to use a mixture for general body moisturising, otherwise a calendula and plantain mix for my face and comfrey for my hands/wrists.)
  • 2 tablespoons beeswax
  • 1/2 – 1 cup water

Bring a pot of water to boil and fit a mixing bowl over it so that you can place the beeswax in the mixing bowl to melt it without boiling it. Once it’s melted, add the oil infusion.

Remove from heat and using an electric mixer, beat it to combine. Slowly, in a trickle, add the water while mixing all the time and it will start turning into a fluffy white emulsion, (a bit like making mayonnaise!)

Keep adding water till the cream reaches the consistency you like, move to a sterile jar, cover and use as required.

For the Thermomix®:

  • Add the beeswax to the Thermomix® bowl 50C/2 minutes/speed 2 (if it’s not thoroughly melted, leave for longer. Ambient temperature can affect melting speed).
  • Add the coconut oil and mix 50C/30 seconds/speed 4
  • Turn the Thermomix® on to 2 minutes/speed 4 and add the water in a thin stream. After adding 1/2 cup of water, check consistency and see if you’d like it thinner. If so, add more water. Transfer to jar.

Copy or save these labels to your computer. Upload them to a Word document or photo editing program, resize to the size you need, and print on sticky backed paper.
label-calendula-coconut-ointment label-comfrey-coconut-ointment label-plantain-coconut-ointment label-plantain-comfrey-clendula-moisturiser

Dandelion Pops

We love dandelions, and this time of year, they are plentiful. We pick them to make Dandelion Pesto and Dandelion Fritters, and I’m currently brewing my first batch of dandelion wine too. But our favourite thing to do with dandelions is to tempura them, or as my children call it ‘Dandelion Popcorn’ – little balls of fried dandelions.

dandelion popsA few things to note about about picking dandelions:

  1. Pick dandelions in full sun, so that they are wide open. In the morning and evening they will be closed.
  2. Cook them as soon as you can. They begin closing up as soon as they are picked, so getting them in batter quickly is preferred.
  3. There are little black bugs that live in dandelions, so make sure you rinse them and leave them a little while to give the bugs chance to escape.Sweet dandelion pops

Some tips on tempura batter:

  1. Different recipes call for different ingredients, obviously, but the important thing is making sure your water is as cold as possible.
  2. I think it works best with sparkling water, but normal water works well too – so long as it’s cold.
  3. Once you start dipping the dandelion heads work quickly. It’s worth having the batter in two bowls so that you can dip a batch, and have the other bowl in the freezer, then swap the bowls over before you start dipping again. The colder the batter, the less oil the dandelion takes on.  washed dandelions

You will need:

  • 85g of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 200ml icy cold sparkling water

Wash the dandelions and leave set aside to drive so as to keep the fried batter crispy.

Add the flour, salt and sugar to a bowl.

Pour in the sparkling water and mix till just combined. If you over mix you push out all the air bubbles, but you also increase the gluten content, so don’t over mix.

(In the Thermomix®, add all the ingredients and mix 20 seconds speed 4).

Split the batter between two bowls, and leave them in the freezer or fridge.

Heat the oil. Take a bowl from the freezer. Hold the dandelion by the green part, and dip it lightly in the batter, making sure to cover everything. Drop the dandelion into the hot oil and fry for 1 – 2 minutes, till a golden brown.

Remove to a bowl with absorbent towel or draining board and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Alternatively with icing sugar and lemon juice.

Enjoy while still warm and fresh.

Simple Easy Stuffed Courgette / Zucchini Flowers

I love Courgette Flowers (Zucchini Flowers). There’s something about them that just makes me think of long summer days in Italy… maybe because the first time we ate them was in Varazze Italy and a few days later on a long lazy afternoon in Rome. Some years ago we were camping in Switzerland but the nearest market was in a small town in Italy, so we drove there for fresh vegetables a few times, and picked up a big bag of courgettes attached to the flower. We took it back to the camp site and prepared our own stuffed courgettes. They are so delicious, I’m sharing the recipe with you as now is the time for them!


We have two courgette plants, two pumpkins and a marrow. Between them they make loads of flowers, but not enough for us to have a family meal off one crop, so I recently discovered that we can actually freeze the flowers. Just pick them, wash them and lay them on a tray without touching anything else. Pop them in the freezer for an hour or so, then transfer into a sealed container.

When you’re ready to eat them, take them out the freezer about 10 minutes before you need them. They’re so thin the defrost in minutes.

You can stuff courgette flowers with pretty much anything you like. We love mozzarella and anchovy, even if you don’t like anchovy, it’s great… it really just adds a bit of saltiness, which is delicious.

The secret with frying your courgette flowers is in having the tempura batter really cold. Once it’s mixed, split the batter between two bowl. Put one in the freezer, and use other to dip one round of courgette flowers. Swap bowls, and use the next bowl for the next round, then swap back. It may seem a faff, but having the batter ice cold makes it crispy and light, which is really what you want for this summer delicacy.

Simple Easy Stuffed Courgette / Zucchini Flowers
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main, Starter
Cuisine: Foraged, Italian
Serves: 4
  • 15 - 20 Flowers
  • 1 egg
  • 250g very very cold water
  • ⅛ teaspoon baking soda
  • 100g all-purpose flour
  • 100g mozzarella
  • 5 anchovies
  1. Hold each flower under a cold running tap. This helps open it up while washing it.
  2. Set aside to dry.
  3. In your food processor, add the egg, water, baking soda and flour.
  4. Mix until it's all blended (10 seconds, speed 5)
  5. Put it in the freezer
  6. Mix your filling and scoop into a piping bag
  7. Gently fill each flower from the piping bag, and ever so gently twist the top of the flower to contain the filling.
  8. Heat the oil
  9. Pour half of the batter into a different bowl and return it to the freezer.
  10. Take two - four flowers (depending on the size of your pot of oil) and dip in the cold batter, before putting in the oil.
  11. Fry the flowers until they are golden.
  12. Return the batter to the freezer and swap.
  13. Dip the flowers, remove the cooked flowers and put them aside to drain.
  14. Repeat until all the flowers are done. Remember the colder the batter the better and each batch of flowers should cook in 3 - 4 minutes.

Strawberries in Cardamom or Vanilla Syrup

Strawberries in syrupWhile I use frozen fruit, it’s not a favourite as I don’t always like the consistency once it defrosts. A great way to save fruit for the winter months is by freezing it though, so rather than just saving as is, I’ve made strawberries to freeze in a syrup, so that when they are defrosted, you have a ready made desert to have on yoghurt, as is, on a cheesecake or on ice cream if you’re so inclined.

Add a flavouring of your choice to infuse for a whole flavour sensation.

You can use them later in the summer on ice cream, or eat them as is. Or save them for the festive season to fill up a glass of fizz – or to bring a sweet pleasant surprise to lemonade in the summer. I’m sure you’ll find a way to enjoy the strawberries in flavoured syrup.

Strawberries in Cardamom or Vanilla Syrup
Cook time
Total time
The amount of strawberries depend on the size of your container and the strawberries themselves. I used two 500ml kilner jars, and didn't overfill them although I could probably have put a few more strawberries in each jar. You need to put enough syrup in that the strawberries are covered. I have chosen cardamom pods and vanilla pods for the two jars, but you can use anything you like - orange peel, liquer, whatever takes your fancy.
Recipe type: Desert, Snack
Cuisine: Foraged, Make Ahead, Freezer
Serves: 700ml
  • 700g water
  • 140g sugar
  • Flavouring: cardamom/vanilla etc
  • 1 punnet of strawberries
In the thermomix
  1. Add the water and sugar
  2. Boil Veroma/Speed 1/ 10 mins
  3. Leave to cool completely
  4. Fill containers with fresh strawberries and pour the cool syrup over it and add the flavours.
  5. Place in the freezer, giving it time to naturally defrost when you want to use it.
Regular cooking
  1. Add the water and sugar
  2. Bring to the boil for 10 mins
  3. Leave to cool completely
  4. Fill containers with fresh strawberries and pour the cool syrup over it and add the flavours.
  5. Place in the freezer, giving it time to naturally defrost when you want to use it.