Lavender is an incredibly versatile herb and lavender used in cooking, as called culinary lavender, is becoming more popular every day.
Lavender is a member of the mint family and is closely related to rosemary, sage, and thyme. Both the flowers and the leaves of lavender can be used fresh or dried. Culinary lavender highlights dishes that include fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory.
Because of its sweet fragrance, the most common type of lavender used in cooking is English Lavender (also known as Lavandula angustifolia). This varietal adds a sweet, floral flavor, with lemon and citrus notes to dishes. While some chefs prefer to work with dried lavender, it should be noted that the potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying and quantities may need to be adjusted (often 1/3 the quantity of dried lavender flowers to fresh lavender flowers). A little goes a long way.
The key to cooking with culinary lavender is to experiment. Try different options in different dishes. Start out with a small amount of culinary lavender and add more as you go.
As you are experimenting, there are several ways that lavender can be added to dishes. Lavender can be…
- Added to salads for a beautiful pop of color
- Substituted for rosemary in most recipes
- Put in sugar and sealed tightly for a couple of weeks; then the lavender infused sugar can then be substituted for ordinary sugar in cakes, buns, or custards
- Used to augment fruit or meat kabobs
- Added to a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake, or as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams
One hazard to keep in mind… not all lavender is created equally. Do not eat lavender flowers from florists, nurseries, or garden centers. In many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides that are not labeled for food crops. Make sure that the culinary lavender that you are going to cook with is edible grade.
If you have any questions about culinary lavender, growing lavender, or the growing lavender industry, then let us know. We are happy to help and look forward to hearing from you. Visit our website, TOLERO Farms, or Contact Us today.