Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Behind The Scenes : In The Distillery

The "peak of purpleness" at the farm is mid-July - mid-August.  This is the time to see the fields in full, glorious bloom.  They are a sea of vibrant purple!  While they are stunning in color, they have yet to reach their full olfactory potential.  Come the end of summer, when the purple flowers have all bloomed themselves out and the fields have faded to a blueish-gray we reach the "peak of fragrance".  While they aren't as stunning to look at, the fields are so pungent that on a warm, breezy day the fragrance can be smelled from a couple miles away.

Fresh Organic Lavender Ready for Distillation at Pelindaba Lavender Farm

This is the time when lavender, heavy with fragrant essential oil, is ready for distillation.  For weeks during early fall our farm crew spends the days harvesting and distilling and repeating.

Lavender Harvest and Distillation at Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Due to lavender's hemispherical shape, harvesting is done by hand with 7 inch garden scythes.  Each and every one of our current 30,000+ plants!  For essential oil distillation we do a "short" harvest.  This means we cut approximately only 6 inches of stalk, unlike our dried flower harvest in which we cut a 12 inch stalk to accommodate decorative floral uses where a long stem is desired.

The 6 inches of stalk we harvest for essential oil distillation is important as it provides small air pockets for the steam to pass through the flower load making for an efficient distillation yield.

Harvesting Fresh Organic Lavender for Lavender Essential Oil at Pelindaba Lavender Farm   Harvesting Fresh Organic Lavender at Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Fragrant Lavender Ready for Making Essential Oil at Pelindaba Lavender's Distilery 

Lavender intended for essential oil distillation is taken (by 3 minute wagon ride) directly from the field to the distillery.  Its route skips the drying barn, as it is unnecessary to dry lavender prior to distillation.  In fact, during the drying process some essential oil is lost due to evaporation that would otherwise be captured during distillation - all the more reason to skip the drying step!

The Distillery at Pelindaba Lavender Farm on San Juan Island

Upon arrival at the distillery, the freshly harvested lavender is placed in our 500 gallon steam chamber (the bright orange box pictured above).  Once the steam chamber is filled up and the red seal clamps closed, the boiler is turned on to heat up the water to vaporous state to be piped into the bottom of the steam chamber.

Lavender Essential Oil Distillation using fresh organic lavender   Lavender Essential Oil Distillation using fresh organic lavender

As the water vapor rises through the fragrant plant material, it vaporizes the essential oil.  The mixed oil and water vapor travels through a large pipe into a cooling chamber where it condenses back into liquid.

Making Lavender Essential Oil at Pelindaba Lavender's Distillery   Lavender Essential Oil in the Distillery at Pelindaba Lavender Farm

This liquid descends from the cooling chamber into the separator where basic physics takes over.  Oil being lighter than water, it rises to the surface and is then decanted into UV-protected, medical grade glass jugs.

Once filled with pure lavender essential oil, these jugs will be stored for at least a year (usually 2-3) before use.  This allows the oil to mature and mellow.  Essential oils are similar to wine in this way.  They improve with age!

Just as the essential oil is decanted, so too is the condensed water decanted into large 5 gallon bottles.  It is, however, no longer straight water.  It is now hydrosol.  What is hydrosol you may ask?  During the steam distillation process a small amount of lavender essential oil is permanently bound to the water molecules, producing what chemists call a colloid.  This permanent mixture of oil and water is hydrosol.  It can only be produced by the distillation process and is, effectively, a diluted version of the essential oil making it particularly useful for a wide range of personal care, therapeutic and household care and other uses.

Organic Lavender Essential Oil Fresh From the Still   Multi-Use Organic Lavender Hydrosol fresh from the still

Now that our lavender essential oil and hydrosol have been fully decanted, it's time to open and empty the steam chamber.  This is the most dramatic part of the entire process.  The big, red clamps are loosened and the heavy door swings back... out billows thick, fragrant steam and left-over moisture, colored from the concentrated plant material, drips to the floor.  The entire distillery is engulfed!

Organic Lavender Essential Oil Distillation at Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Using pitch forks the soft and damp lavender is emptied and then added to our epic compost pile.  Can you imagine the facials our farm crew gets every day during the distillation season! 

Organic Lavender Essential Oil Distillation

Organic Lavender at Pelindaba Lavender Farn

The whole process - from filling the steam chamber to emptying it - takes about an hour and a half and yields approximately 1.5 gallons of essential oil.  That's approximately 270-300 plants producing 1.5 gallons of essential oil!

It's a labor intensive process requiring a great deal of plant material to produce a relatively small amount of pure essential oil.  This is one reason why pure essential oils are more expensive than their oft-diluted counter parts.  Conversely, pure essential oils, being so potent, are used in very small quantities.  Usually only a couple drops are used for any particular application.  This means a little bit goes a long way and, as the fragrance of lavender essential oil continues to improve with age, there is no concern about spoiling.

All this labor is well worth it.  It's a labor of love we are privileged to partake in so that you can experience the benefit of pure, organic lavender essential oil and hydrosol straight from the source.

Fresh Lavender Harvest at Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

A Cozy, Autumn Floral Arrangement Tutorial

The seasonal shift into fall in the Northern Hemisphere brings a plethora of new colors, textures and shapes to the natural world.  Leaves change color, grasses dry, seed pods emerge, branches are uncovered... all creating an abundant palette for floral arranging that is quite unique from spring and summer blooms.  Brew up a cozy cup of tea and let's make something from all the autumnal beauty.

Autumn Floral Arrangement with Lavender Tutorial


How to Make a Lavender Autumn Arrangement

In this tutorial we share the materials we sourced from the farm and surrounding island hedgerows and the occasional country ditch.  We aren't fussy about where our florals come from.  Hunting up unique and interesting materials is all part of the fun.  Your own yard, a kind neighbor's yard (best to ask first, of course!) and the local nursery are all great sources, but don't overlook the side of the road. Most people do, so it's often quite a treasure trove!


  • greens - we like to add a bit of bright green fir or cedar to contrast the warm autumnal tones
  • branches - mostly bare or with a few final leaves, pine cones or berries
  • colorful shrubs - many shrubs change color in fall, these are excellent sources for dense, color-filled texture
  • seed pods - many plants boast dramatic seed pods as they prepare to propagate
  • dried wheat - readily sourced from local nursery, markets and even craft stores
  • dried lavender *  
  • an autumnal container - we used a tall apple basket, but lots of other things would work very well - a metal bucket, a wooden box or crate, a heavy glass jar...
* We used our own Lavandula x intermedia "Grosso" for it's long stalks, vibrant color and longevity once dried.  We also included some dried Lavandula x intermedia "Alba".  This is a white lavender to provide a little contrast.  Any lavender that dries nicely will create a lovely contrast to your other fall florals.

Fall Arrangement with Lavender   How to make an Autumn Floral Arrangement with Lavender

Step 1 : Build the foundation and framework

Using greens and branches, create a loose web within your container.  This is the structure that will provide support to the rest of your florals.  Autumn florals can be much drier than their spring and summer forebears and, therefore, more delicate and in need of a sturdy foundation.

This is the time to consider weight.  Unlike other fresh flowers, water isn't necessary.  Fall florals are often partially or even fully dried when they are sourced.  This means that your container will not be weighted with water.  Floral stones or a couple of rocks from the garden are an excellent means of weighting your container.

A weighted container will allow you to create height with your branches without the arrangement becoming top heavy.

DIY Fall Floral Arranging with Lavender   Fall Floral Arranging with Lavender Tutorial

Step Two : Fill it in

This is where the dried lavender and colorful shrubs come in.  They provide density within your branch framework.  Pack it in!  Play with varying heights within the branch framework, being mindful of the overall shape you are creating.

How to Make a Fall Inspired Lavender Bouquet   How to Make a Fall Inspired Lavender Bouquet

Step Three : Bring in the contrast

Dried wheat provides any arrangement wonderful color and shape.  Its warm gold tone contrasts particularly well with the blueish-purple hues of dried lavender.  Scatter a handful of wheat stalks throughout your arrangement mirroring the same tampering heights of the overall shape of your creation.

Lavender Craft Project for Fall 

Step Four : A little something to pop...

Seed pods!  Add just a few as the final explosion of shape and form in this riotous celebration of nature's autumn style.

How to Make an Autumnal Lavender Flower Arrangement

How to Make an Autumnal Lavender Flower Arrangement

DIY Fall Lavender Flower Arrangement

And there you have it!  Have fun with your creativity.  Your arrangement will have it's own unique look based on the elements you are drawn to.  It won't look exactly like ours, nor should it!  It should look like your vision of fall.

Just as fall is a season of change, your arrangement will likely change with time.  You might notice one element has dried out too much and lost its color.  That's OK.  Take it out and replace it with more greens or something else from your yard or from the byways that's visually appealing to you.  Let it transform as the season transforms.

Beautiful Fall Lavender Bouquet

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Moisturizing and Gentle Exfoliating Lavender Honey Oat Scrub for Face and Lips

Honey is an excellent ingredient for moisturizing the skin.  Especially once the natural crystallization process has added texture to this golden syrup, you can use it to add a gentle exfoliating scrub on the body, hands, face, and lips.

Moisturizing Lavender Honey Oat Lip and Face Scrub from Pelindaba Lavender

Supplement its moisturizing power with the natural antimicrobial benefits of both honey and lavender to gently cleanse and disinfect the skin.  Try adding this alternative to your regular skin care regimen and follow with our very popular Organic Lavender Facial Toner and Cleanser.

Lavender Honey Oat Face Scrub

To make this simple yet luxurious scrub, just mix about 1/2 tablespoon crystallized lavender honey with 1/2 tablespoon of oat flour (if you don't have oat flour, simply process regular rolled oats in a blender or food processor until it takes on a flour consistency).

How to Make Moisturizing Lavender Honey Oat Lip and Face Scrub At Home

Apply the mixture in circular motions on wet skin and allow it to rest on your face like a mask for 5-10 minutes.

At Home Moisturizing Lavender Honey Oat Lip and Face Scrub Project 
Rinse with warm water and pat dry to reveal soft, supple and fresh skin.  To boost the antioxidant effects of this facial scrub, try adding smashed fresh seasonal berries!

At Home Spa Day with Pelindaba Lavender Farm

DIY At Home Spa Day With Lavender

Need a more thorough rejuvenation?  Try our 5 Step Lavender Self Care Spa Treatment or build your own spa treatment with your own selections from our line of handcrafted lavender tension relief products.  No time to whip up a homemade scrub?  Try Pelindaba's Lavender Sugar Scrub for an equally decadent home spa treatment.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Clean Fine Jewelry with Natural, Organic, Non-Toxic Lavender Hydrosol

Lavender is truly a remarkable plant.  There are few other plants that have such a wide breadth of uses. With the same plant we can repel insects and soothe pain, we can fragrance ourselves and our homes, we can create delicious savory dishes and sweet treats, we can clean our bodies and our surroundings - and we can even clean our fine jewelry.

Using lavender to clean jewelry was an application that we came across almost by chance.  Many years ago, our staff at the Farm’s Visitor Center started receiving lots of compliments on their rings.  All of our locations use our Organic Lavender Hydrosol for dusting and widow and floor cleaning.  Lavender Hydrosol is a well-know solvent and disinfectant and so we thought that maybe while cleaning our staff’s rings were also benefiting.  After some intentional jewelry cleaning trials, we found this to be the case!

As our staff began cleaning more of their fine jewelry with Organic Lavender Hydrosol, the increased sparkle started generating more and more comments.

As a non-toxic alternative to removing soap and lotion build up, skin oils, and general dirt and grime, Organic Lavender Hydrosol works like a charm.  It polishes up light tarnish and finger prints on silver, gold, precious and semi-precious stones and even Swarovski crystals, restoring their rainbow sparkle.

It's a simple process to keep your fine jewelry clean and shiny.  Simply spritz the dirty piece with Organic Lavender Hydrosol and, using a microfiber - or similarly soft - cloth, polish it up.  A soft tooth brush moistened with Lavender Hydrosol works well for cleaning fine filigree.

For a deeper clean, soak the piece in a small dish of Lavender Hydrosol for 30-40 minutes and polish it with a soft, clean cloth.

A cotton swab soaked in Lavender Hydrosol is perfect for accessing the underside of stones and the interior of rings.


A truly remarkable plant indeed!  The uses of Organic Lavender Essential Oil and Lavender Hydrosol are expansive and applicable to many areas of everyday life.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Easy Autumn Wreath

Perhaps you dried some lavender from your garden this summer and are now wondering what to do with it...  Let's use it to make an autumn wreath!  With this simple tutorial you can create a lovely splash of fall color for your living space or office.

Simple Autumn Lavender Wreath Tutorial

What you'll need:

  • Dried lavender - We used Lavandula angustifolia "Royal Purple", but really any variety that has dried nicely will do.  Some varieties keep their color more readily when dried and others tend to fade.  Whatever you have on had, if you like the look of it, it's perfect!  If you need some dried lavender, it's available in any of our locations or we can send you some directly to your home.
  • Wreath base - We used a boxwood wreath from last year that had faded in color to a lovely gold.  Other ideal autumnal options are wheat, pine cone, dried salal or magnolia, eucalyptus, twig, preserved leaves or berries...again, if you like the look of it and it says "fall" to you, it's perfect!
  • Kitchen shears or clippers and floral wire (optional depending on wreath base).

Step 1:

Clear a large work space and gather your supplies.  Separate your dried lavender into small bundles of 10 - 15 stalks.  Trim the stalks to 2 - 3 inches below the flowers.  The number of small bundles you'll need will depend on the size of your wreath base.  We used a 16 inch diameter wreath base and made 7 bundles of lavender.  You can make more or less depending on how prominent you want the lavender to be - artist's choice!

Note: If your wreath base is made of salal, magnolia or other less dense material, it will be helpful to secure the ends of the lavender stalks with several wraps of floral wire.  This will make the bundles easier to secure amongst the other florals.

Step 2:

Add the small bundles of lavender sprigs to your wreath base.  Nestling the bundles into wreath bases made of dense material like boxwood should hold them securely.  For a balanced look, space the lavender flower bundles equal distances apart around your wreath and follow the same angled orientation of the other florals.

If you are using a less dense wreath base, securing your bundles with a twist of floral wire will help it hold up better.

Step 3:

Don't forget about the sides!  Hold your wreath up and view it from a variety of angles.  Are the florals balanced from all vantage points?  Add more bundles or adjust them to even out holes or clustering.

If your wreath base does not have a means of hanging on a hook or nail,  you can create one easily by cutting 3 lengths of floral wire each 3 inches long.  Braid the 3 lengths together to create a single strong length.  Secure it through the back of the "top" of the wreath and twist the ends together to create a secure loop from which to hang.

To determine the "top" of the wreath, hold it up at arms length and rotate it until you find the most visually pleasing orientation.  Tip: if one side of your wreath is a little bulkier than the others, orient the ample side to the bottom as a strong visual base for your wreath.

Well done!  Now hang it up and enjoy your beautifully created touch of autumn!

Speaking of wreaths... If you are planning on creating a holiday wreath, check out this tutorial for creating a Lavender Wreath for the holidays!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Honey Lavender BBQ Chicken Skewers and Black Ceylon Lavender Sweet Tea

Nothing says summer like spending time in the sun, having a BBQ or picnic - or our favorite - spending time in a lavender field!  With the long summer days and all the great recipes that come with them, we're excited about new flavors to experiment with.

Lavender is a lesser-known flavor to our modern palette.  You may be new to using it in the kitchen.  When cooking with new herbs and spices, we like to test them out by making smaller batches of the recipe at first.  This way, if the new flavor turns out too strong or not strong enough, one can nail down the best combinations before serving them to others.  Trial and error is all part of the fun in creating your own recipes!

We're excited to share a few recipes that are all set for summer gatherings.  The BBQ chicken recipes below will have people coming back for seconds!  Every barbecue or picnic also needs great beverages to keep hydrated and satisfied in the heat.  Our Lavender Lemonade, a perfect drink for a hot sunny day, and the lavender sweet tea recipe below will have you dreaming you're on the south east coast with your toes in the Atlantic Ocean (unless you're there already, of course!).

We hope you'll enjoy these grilling favorites at your next BBQ at home or on a camp-out!

Honey Lavender BBQ Chicken Recipe from Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Honey Lavender BBQ Chicken

To incorporate lavender in recreating some of our favorite recipes, we made only minor substitutions and they made major differences.  In a favorite BBQ sauce recipe, we substituted the normal honey with our lavender infused honey and added a small pinch of culinary lavender to enhance the lavender flavor even more.  This barbecue recipe is simple and delicious.



In a small sauce pan over medium heat, bring the ketchup, honey, butter, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and the pinch of culinary lavender to a boil, stirring frequently to make sure it doesn't burn.   Taste the sauce to make sure the lavender flavor is present and add more lavender if needed.  Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  If you choose, you can strain the sauce to remove the lavender or you can leave it in to marinade with the chicken.  Cool completely.

Now that you have made the barbecue sauce and let it cool, it's time to marinate the chicken.  Place the chicken in a seal-able container or bag, pour the barbecue sauce over the chicken making sure it is evenly coated, cover and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

When you are ready to get to grilling, preheat the grill.  If your BBQ has a hotplate, preheat that as well as the grill.  If it has just a grill, a sheet of aluminum foil on one side on the lower shelf will work.  Use the hotplate (or a sheet of foil on the grill) on medium heat to begin cooking the meat, turning occasionally.

Once the chicken is a little over half way cooked on the foil or hotplate, transfer the chicken to the grill to cook for about 10 minutes or however long is needed on your grill, on medium high heat to get that perfect seared BBQ flavor and texture.  Turn regularly as needed.  Once the chicken is cooked, serve and enjoy!

Easy Honey Lavender BBQ Chicken Recipe with Organic Culinary Lavender 

Easy Honey Mustard Lavender Chicken Skewers Recipe from Pelindaba Lavender

Lavender Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers

Mouthwatering and beyond easy to make, these Lavender Honey Mustard Chicken Skewers are a great summer dinner or potluck contribution.

When making chicken skewers, we suggest using boneless skinless thighs.  We find that it creates a more complimentary flavor.



Cut the chicken thighs into cubes.  Once the chicken has been cut, place it in a seal-able container or bag with about 1/2 of a jar of our Lavender Stone Ground Honey Mustard.  Seal the container and shake until evenly coated and let it marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

As you wait for the marinade to do its thing, grab the bundle of Lavender Organic Stalks and find a few of the thicker stalks in the bunch to use as the skewers and set them to soak in a shallow dish of water.  At this time, you can also go preheat your grill.  After doing so, grab the chicken from the fridge and start pressing the cubes onto the soaked stalks.  You can choose to alternate the chicken with a few vegetables of your choosing.  When you have completed making the skewers, lightly season with Lavender Gourmet Salt and Lavender Gourmet Pepper and then place them on the grill.  Cook them 4 to 5 minutes on each side until no pink remains or until the internal temperature of the chicken has reached 165 degrees F.  When they are cooked, take them off the grill, grab a basting brush, and brush on a little more Lavender Honey Mustard.  Garnish with lemon wedges and enjoy!

Honey Lavender BBQ Chicken Skewers Recipe from Pelindaba Lavender

Organic Lavender Black Ceylon Sweet Tea

This simple recipe for Lavender Sweet Tea has only four ingredients and is a lovely summer dining accompaniment or warm afternoon treat.



Measure the tea onto a square of cheese cloth and secure with twine to create a teabag.  Bring 4 cups of water to boil in a saucepan over medium high heat.  Add the tea, remove from heat and allow it to steep for approximately 5 minutes.  Remove the tea bag and disassemble for drying and reuse or compost it.

Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved.  Pour the tea into a gallon pitcher and add three more quarts of water.  Stir to blend evenly and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or, better, overnight.

Pour the tea into ice-filled glasses and add a few leaves of fresh mint or a few slices of lemon for a refreshing cool beverage on a hot day.

•  •  •

If you aren’t feeling so adventurous, but remain curious about cooking with lavender, take a few baby steps instead!  Add some Lavender Gourmet Pepper to a burger or some chicken.  Test the waters and have fun as you go.

So, get your grill and picnic blanket out, call some friends over, grab that sun screen and Lavender Insect Repellent and enjoy the sunshine!