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Lost Italian: When life hands you lemons, make Sarah's Honey Lavender Lemonade

Sarah's honey lavender lemonade is a terrific way to cool down on a hot summer day. David Samson / The Forum
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The summer heat has finally arrived, and after a day spent bailing out water from a flooded basement hallway (due to a clogged kitchen drain) followed by two visits from the plumber, I don’t know when I’ve ever been more grateful to have a cold, tall glass of homemade lemonade.

Word to the wise: Never put your lemon rinds down the garbage disposal.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that make the difference, and that’s certainly true in this case. Homemade lemonade is easy to make, affordable, refreshing and, when it’s made with honey lavender syrup, even healing. Honey lavender syrup is a simple syrup made with water infused with dried lavender buds and sweetened with honey instead of sugar.

A simple syrup is a basic combination of water and sugar that is brought to a boil and cooked until the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear. Simple syrup is great to have on hand in the summer months and can be used in beverages, cocktails, over ice cream and even to dress up fresh or frozen berries, grapes and fruit salad. The syrup can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four weeks, or in the freezer for several months.

North Dakota is the nation’s top producer of honey, and I love to look for new ways to incorporate this top crop into our culinary routine. This simple syrup is a great way to do just that.


Create a simple syrup with North Dakota honey and dried lavender buds for a refreshing way to sweeten beverages and fruit. David Samson / The Forum

For this recipe, I used honey instead of sugar for a touch of richness, and dried lavender to make it extra special. Lavender has a lovely floral fragrance that partners beautifully with honey to create a taste of summer that’s hard to match.

While you may not naturally think of lavender as a culinary herb, it’s a terrific item to add to your culinary repertoire and can be used in myriad ways to brighten up drinks, desserts and even savory foods like chicken and pork. A little dried lavender goes a long way and the rest can be stored for at least a year before it starts to lose its perfume. You can find dried lavender buds at specialty food stores and often in the gourmet food aisle at T.J. Maxx.

For this recipe, the lavender is cooked with the water and honey to gently extract its floral essence, which only takes about 15 to 20 minutes on the burner, and another 15 off the burner to steep. Next, the syrup is passed through a fine mesh strainer into a Mason jar or other airtight container, and the lavender buds are discarded.

Dried lavender buds infuse Honey Lavender Syrup with the fragrance of summer. David Samson / The Forum

On this occasion, when life handed me lemons, I already had the lemonade ready to go from our photo shoot last week. For the lemonade, I added the juice of three large lemons to six cups of very cold water and about 1 ¼ cups of the honey lavender syrup.


All you need to do is add ice, stir and enjoy. And keep the lemon rinds out of the disposal.

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Sarah’s Honey Lavender Lemonade

Serves: 8 to 10


6 cups cold water

1 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)

1 to 1 ½ cups honey lavender syrup

Lemon slices, to garnish


2 to 3 cups ice cubes


In a large pitcher, use a large spoon to stir the water with the lemon juice and 1 cup of Honey Lavender Syrup until fully combined. Taste and add more syrup (or sugar) for a sweeter lemonade, as desired. Add the ice and stir again.

Garnish pitcher with sliced lemon rounds and serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 1 week.

For a sweet refreshment, serve Honey Lavender Syrup with frozen raspberries or your favorite fruit. David Samson / The Forum

Honey Lavender Syrup

Makes: about 2 cups


1 cup water

¼ cup dried lavender buds

1 ¼ cup honey


In a medium saucepot, bring the water and lavender buds to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a medium-low simmer and add the honey, stirring until fully incorporated. Simmer gently over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, then remove from burner and steep at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer into a container and discard the lavender buds. The syrup may be stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 weeks, or frozen for several months. Use the syrup to make lemonade, sweeten beverages, jazz up ice cream or brighten up fresh fruit.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.

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