Dried lavender is a popular ingredient in many household products like potpourri, sachets, and aromatherapy. Its lovely floral scent and pretty purple flowers have made it a staple in gardens for centuries. Many people dry lavender at home to preserve the flowers for long-term use in crafts, cooking, and natural medicine. But how long does dried lavender last before it starts to lose its color, fragrance, and beneficial properties?
How long does dried lavender last?
Properly dried and stored lavender will keep for 1-3 years. After that, it will slowly start to lose potency.
Does dried lavender expire?
Yes, dried lavender does eventually expire after about 3 years. It will gradually lose its scent and color. The dried flowers will also become less effective for use in aromatherapy, potpourri, etc.
How do you keep dried lavender fresh?
Store dried lavender in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. Keep it away from heat, light, and moisture to prevent it from deteriorating. Adding a packet of silica gel can help absorb excess moisture.
Can you use dried lavender after 3 years?
You can still use dried lavender after 3 years, but it likely won’t be as vibrant, fragrant, or effective. The lavender may not give off much aroma. It’s best to replace old, expired lavender with a fresh batch.
Does freezing dried lavender keep it fresh?
Freezing is not recommended for long-term storage of dried lavender. The freezing and thawing process can damage the flowers. Refrigeration can help maintain potency for up to 6 months if kept in an airtight container.
Factors that affect dried lavender’s shelf life
Several key factors influence how long your dried lavender stash will remain fresh:
Proper storage is crucial for extending the shelf life of dried lavender. Air, light, and moisture are all damaging to dried flowers. Storing the lavender in an opaque airtight container in a cool, dry place keeps it in optimal condition. Glass jars or plastic containers work well for storage.
How the lavender is initially dried can impact how long it keeps. Quick methods like air drying or microwaving often leave more residual moisture compared to slower oven or dehydrator drying. More trapped moisture means faster deterioration. Thoroughly dried lavender has the longest shelf life.
Age of lavender
The shelf life depends partly on the age of the lavender when harvested and dried. Older lavender or lavender past its prime won’t last as long as lavender harvested at peak freshness. For best longevity, dry lavender blossoms just as they reach full maturity.
Essential oil content
English lavender and other Lavandula angustifolia varieties contain higher levels of fragrant essential oils. The oils degrade over time, causing lavender to lose potency. Other species like French lavender have less oil, so they may not last as long.
Where and how the lavender was cultivated affects oil content. Lavender grown in less ideal conditions won’t be as high-quality and won’t retain its scent and color for as long compared to lavender grown in optimal soil, climate, etc.
Harvest and processing care
Any rough handling, crushing, or bruising during harvest and processing can accelerate the deterioration process. Gently harvested, carefully dried lavender has maximum longevity. Proper sanitation during processing also prevents mold growth.
Optimal drying methods
To get the most shelf life out of your dried lavender, use the best drying method possible. Here are some recommended drying techniques:
Hang upside down small lavender bundles in a warm, dry, dark area with good air circulation. This traditional method can take 1-2 weeks but preserves color and essential oils. Shake flowers periodically to ensure even drying.
Spread lavender in a single layer on trays or racks. Keep oven at lowest temperature setting, ideally below 100°F. Drying time is 1-5 hours. Monitor closely to prevent overdrying.
Use a food dehydrator on the lowest temperature setting. Rotate trays and check frequently until completely dry. Drying time is typically 1-4 hours. Avoid overpacking flowers in the dehydrator.
Place fresh cut lavender in an airtight container with lots of silica gel packets. The flowers will dry in 1-2 weeks. The silica gel absorbs moisture to accelerate drying time.
Arrange flowers between paper towels and microwave in 1 minute increments on low power until dried. Rotate and check often to prevent cooking. This is a fast option but can decrease oil content.
Correct drying and storage methods
Follow these best practices for storing your dried lavender to maximize how long it lasts:
– Opaque airtight glass jars or plastic containers
– Dark containers prevent light damage
– Plastic or foil wrap to block all light
– Cool, dry spot with consistent temperature
– Low humidity environment
– Avoid warm areas like near oven or in attic
General storage tips
– Fill containers fully to limit air exposure
– Use oldest dried lavender first
– Check annually and replace if color/fragrance fades
– Consider refrigeration for short-term storage up to 6 months
– Freeze dried lavender ice cubes to use long-term
What to avoid
– Sunlight and UV exposure
– Heat, humidity, and moisture
– Clear glass containers
– Storage with other aromatic products like spices
– Crushing, breaking up, or grinding dried flowers
How to determine if dried lavender has expired
Here are some signs your dried lavender may be past its prime:
– Faded, dull color
– Brown, brittle flowers
– Broken petals and pieces
– Dusty, fragmented texture
– Very mild or no scent
– Smells stale, musty or like hay
– Unpleasant medicinal odor
– Lack of distinctive floral taste
– Bitter, unpleasant taste
– Does not give off scent when infused in oil, butter, etc.
– Does not disperse well in potpourri blends
– Does not relax or benefit sleep when used in aromatherapy
– Kept over 3 years in less than ideal conditions
– Improperly stored in heat, light, humidity, etc.
– Left uncovered or re-exposed to moisture
Average shelf life of properly stored dried lavender
When thoroughly dried and kept in optimal storage conditions, here is how long you can expect dried lavender to last:
Most dried lavender will remain vibrant and fragrant for 1-3 years in airtight containers in cool, dark conditions. Check annually for fading.
Lavender not fully dried or stored in warmer conditions may start deteriorating in as little as 6 months. Check more frequently for changes in fragrance, color and texture.
In hot, humid environments, dried lavender may only last a few months before aroma and potency fade. Refrigeration extends life by a few months.
Improperly dried lavender or lavender stored loosely in plastic bags may lose its freshness in as little as 1-3 months. Dried flower buds also tend to deteriorate faster than dried flower spikes.
|Storage Conditions||Expected Shelf Life|
|Cool, dark, airtight container||1-3 years|
|Loosely packaged, partial light/air exposure||6-12 months|
|Warm conditions, humid environment||3-6 months|
|Hot, humid, loosely packed||1-3 months|
As you can see, cool, dark, dry storage in an airtight container delivers optimal shelf life for dried lavender. Refrigeration extends longevity a bit more.
Tips for using up old dried lavender
If stored properly, dried lavender can last several years. But if yours has lost its luster, here are some options for using it up:
The color and texture of dried lavender can still work for many craft projects even if the scent has faded. Use it in wreaths, flower arrangements, potpourri, etc.
Place expired dried lavender into small muslin sachets. Tuck them in with stored clothes and linens to provide a subtle pleasant aroma.
Simmer your old dried lavender with lemon peel, rosemary, and orange slices in a pot of water on the stove. It will add a light, fresh scent.
Though past its prime, your dried lavender makes an attractive biodegradable natural confetti for weddings or celebrations. Toss it for showers, parties, etc.
Blend the older lavender into relaxing herbal teas along with ingredients like chamomile that still provide fragrance.
Use expired dried lavender in homemade potpourri by adding strongly scented flowers, spices, citrus peels, and essential oils. The lavender gives a neutral base.
Make sachets with 1 part old lavender and 2 parts fresh aromatic herbs like rosemary, mint, sage, etc. The fresh herbs will cover any musty lavender scent.
The dry, brittle nature of faded dried lavender makes it useful as fire kindling to help ignite logs and charcoal for grilling.
With optimal harvest, drying, and storage methods, dried lavender can retain its color, fragrance, and uses for 1-3 years. After that time, the flowers will gradually fade and lose potency. Refrigeration and freezing can extend the shelf life slightly longer. But lavender stored loosely in poor conditions may deteriorate in as little as a few months. Monitor your dried lavender stash annually and replace any that shows diminished aroma, dull color, or other signs of aging. With proper care, you can enjoy the benefits of home-dried lavender for several seasons.