What is Lavender?
Lavender or known with its scientific name “Lavandula” is a purple flower plant cultivated either as a herb or distilled turning it into an essential oil. As an herb, lavender has been documented since 2500 years ago. In ancient times Egyptians used it for mummification and as a perfume.
Lavender comes from the word ‘lavo’ in Latin which means to wash as Romans used it to bath themselves. Lavender is known for its antiseptic and medicinal values. Also, by having a distinctive and quite pleasant smell, the lavender extracts have long been used as disinfectants, air fresheners, in fragrances, laundry detergents, bath soaps, even in insect repellents.
On the other hand, the lavender essential oil is used widely in spa facilities for massage treatments, aromatherapy and hair treatment. Its soothing scent has the ability to calm the nerves. It also helps relieve stress and aids against insomnia. It can be applied in cases of some kinds of allergies, high blood pressure, problems of menopause and andropause.
The most common form of cultivated lavender is the English lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) and around the 1600s it started to being introduced to America’s too.
Top producers and exporters of lavender and its essential oil
Bulgaria is the world’s top producer and exporter of lavender herb and essential oil in wholesale. The Balkan country has doubled its production from 60 metric tons in 2011 to 120 metric tons in 2014. 50% of lavender production in Bulgaria is situated in the north of the country.
After Bulgaria, France ranks second on a world level regarding the amount of wholesale Lavender herb and essential oil for trade. Other countries who produce and export wholesale lavender are the U.K., Spain, Germany, Ukraine. These countries are the largest wholesalers of lavender in the world as they have a quite established cosmetics industry already.
Other countries who produce and export lavender in wholesale quantities are in Asia, such as: Japan, China, India, etc, Australia, wherever the climate is favorable.
Lavender is grown even in North America, mostly in Washington, which is called the ‘capital of lavender in North America”. Here though, the lavender essential oils are the main products that are imported and largely used.
Dried lavender buds used in gastronomy
In culinary arts, the dried lavender buds also known as flowers, are used and the secret is to dry them to the maximum, otherwise, it gives an impression as if you are eating a perfume. The professional chefs use only 1/3 the quantity of dried lavender flowers.
Culinary lavender which is part of the mint family has a sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes. The spikes and leaves of culinary lavender work as a perfect substitute for rosemary because compared to it they have a more subtle taste.
They can be used for making fruit, shrimp kabobs, cakes, cupcakes, even in salads. Dried lavender flowers look beautiful and taste good too in a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake, or as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams.
Lavender essential oil
Lavender oil is an absolute favorite and at the same time, one of the most popular essential oils used all over the world. Known for its sedative and antioxidant properties, lavender oil is widely used for aromatherapy and in cosmetic products.
This multipurpose oil is said to have antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, antimicrobial, and many other properties. Lavender oil when used topically or inhaled through aromatherapy is said to enhance both physical and mental health. It alleviates stress and anxiety, helps to recover burns, might fight insomnia, and clear op the skin. The oil is extracted by distilled of flower spikes.
Due to its rise in popularity and use, recent surveys confirm a rapid expansion of the global lavender oil by 2025.
Lavender cultivated in Albania
Lavender is produced in Albania, but in very few parts of the country, such as: Koplik in Malesi e Madhe district, in the villages of Elbasan, etc. The two biggest markets for the Albanian lavender exports are Germany and Italy, but other markets include Turkey and France too.
Source/ Daily Mail, Borgen Magazine, Agroweb
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