When they hear about cooking with lavender, some people are surprised. Lavender’s sweet smell is becoming well-known as an enhancement to many household products such as soaps, lotions and air fresheners. Many have enjoyed growing lavender in their gardens.
More and more people are learning of the powerful therapeutic properties of lavender essential oil. But using flowers as a seasoning? Cooking with lavender can add a unique flavor to a variety of dishes.
Culinary Lavender – All types of lavender are edible, but some are better for cooking than others. It’s most important that the lavender be pesticide free, so it is best to purchase lavender that is specifically marketed for cooking. The other alternative is to grow your own lavender, knowing that you kept it away from any pesticides or other toxic substances. Probably the most common variety of lavender used in cooking is provence. It provides a light sweet flavor without overpowering. If you are interested in adding infusions with color, hidcote is a good option.
General Usage – When cooking with lavender, use it lightly as you would with any dried herb such as rosemary. Remember that a little goes a long way, and too much will leave a bitter taste. In addition to seasoning, lavender will add color to your dishes and fresh lavender blossoms make a beautiful garnish. To keep blossoms fresh until ready to use, wrap in a paper towel and place it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Desserts – One of the favorite uses of culinary lavender is in preparing desserts. An easy way to add the taste of lavender is to make lavender sugar. Simply mix one tablespoon of dried lavender with four cups of sugar and let it sit for a couple of weeks. Sift out the lavender and use the sugar normally. Lavender can be used in many dessert recipes such as cakes, cookies and ice cream.
Meats – Lavender provides a unique flair to meat seasoning, including beef, pork, chicken and fish. Whether you prefer meat seasoning that is spicy or sweet, in the form of a rub or a marinade, cooking with lavender adds special flavor that is tasty and aromatic. If you are grilling your meat, try sprinkling some dried lavender on the hot coals. Not only will this add savor that is pleasing to the taste buds, it will also add scent that is pleasing to the nose.
Beverages – Adding lavender to drink recipes is another way to enjoy this wonderful herb. Lavender Lemonade and limeade are summer favorites. This will add a great spin to the taste, and it can also add beautiful color to the beverage (try hidcote). Lavender punch is a great hit at parties. Try dropping a few fresh lavender florets into a glass of white wine, or use a lavender stem with the flowers still attached as a swizzle stick.
Vinegar – Lavender vinegar provides an extraordinary way of cooking with lavender. But since vinegar has so many different uses, adding the scent and color of lavender will make even common uses seem extravagant. Use lavender vinegar for salad dressing, dipping bread or marinading meats. Try it as a hair rinse or a facial scrub. Clean with lavender vinegar or use in the rinse cycle of your dishwaser for spot free dishes.
The possibilities of cooking with lavender are only limited by your imagination. Experiment with some of your favorite recipes or try some new ones. If you have never cooked with this exceptional herb, you are in for a whole new adventure in delighting your palate!