When life gives you lemons, make lavender lemonade

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As South Carolina residents, we’re familiar with the concept of “beating the heat” in the summer months. The sunny, 90-plus degree days that have already arrived in mid-June are a sign that we are in for another long, sweltering summer in the Upstate.

When temperatures skyrocket, it can be tempting to retreat inside our air-conditioned homes. But when it’s time to inevitably venture outside during these hot months, it isn’t long before many of us are looking for relief, and usually that involves hydration. Before the season begins, we often see various summer drinks hyped as the drink for summer. These drinks usually take classic summer flavors (typically in-season fruit) or drinks that we automatically associate with summer and add a special twist so that they can be marketed as a “signature” summer drink.

One of these is lavender lemonade. Most people have tried regular lemonade — whether it’s homemade or the instant powdered concoction you see on grocery store shelves — but lavender lemonade is a newer summer drink trend that has taken off in the last few years. As someone who already loves the calming aroma of lavender, I was immediately intrigued when I first heard of this drink.

For the last few summers, I’ve wanted to make my own lavender lemonade from scratch. But one question always eluded me: Where do I find lavender in Greenville?

The answer is at Southern Hills Lavender, located in Greer, and they are the catalyst of the recent lavender craze in Greenville. (We did a preview of their first U-Pick event, and it had such a great turnout that the next U-Pick events will be ticketed and limited to 30 to 50 attendees.) You can find their products, which include lavender sachets, dried and fresh bundles, soaps, lotions and candles, at Foodie’s Farm Shop in Greer as well as at various farmers markets.

I visited their stand at the Taylors Mill farmers market and purchased a packet of their culinary lavender bud ($4.50). In comparison to regular dried lavender, culinary lavender has a sweeter flavor and aroma, and it goes through a special filtration process to remove any impurities.

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When I told the woman working the stand that I planned on making lavender lemonade, she immediately handed me a card with the following recipe:

LAVENDER LEMONADE

4 cups water, divided

1 tablespoons dried lavender bud

2/3 cup sugar

1 cup lemon juice (6–8 lemons)

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  1. In a medium pan, bring 1 cup of water to boil. Remove from heat and add lavender buds. Steep for 30 minutes. Using a mesh strainer, strain liquid and discard buds.L4
  2.  Juice lemons to yield 1 cup of juiceL5
    1. In a saucepan, combine 3 cups water and sugar and bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute or until sugar is dissolved.
    2. In pitcher, combine lavender water, syrup and lemon juice. Stir.
    3. Cover and chill. Serve over ice.

L7I’m happy to report that my lavender lemonade was a success. The delicate floral note of the lavender perfectly complements the bold sweet and sour taste of the lemonade, producing a beverage that is refreshing, energizing and cooling. I’ll definitely be making this again throughout the summer.

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