Originally appeared at National Gardening Bureau
Written By: Janice Cox
Author of: Beautiful Lavender
Three simple recipes for cooking with lavender
Lavender is so much more than a relaxing scent or a closet sachet.
Lavender’s pretty purple buds and green leaves are a highly sought-after culinary ingredient. You will find it in restaurants around the world and products at your grocery store. Lavender is used in baking goods, beverages, cheeses, and in marinades.
If you have a plant in your own yard, you can use it in the kitchen and discover how this ancient herb is one of the latest modern food trends. Cooking with lavender adds flavor to your dishes without extra salt or fat. The essential oils within the buds add notes of pine and rosemary with a hint of citrus. From cookies to smoked meats, lavender will enhance a wide variety of recipes.
Easiest way to cook with lavender
Start by blending lavender with some of your other favorite culinary herbs or condiments, such as soy sauce, honey, or mustard. It adds flavor to soft cheeses and marinades. One of the most famous French savory herbal blends, “Herbes de Provence,” includes lavender. English lavender (Lavandula augustifolia) has the best flavor for cooking. French lavender (L. dentata) and Provence lavender (L. dentata ‘Provence’) have the strongest flavors. When purchasing culinary lavender, look for the culinary label. This tells you the flowers have been grown without any added sprays or fertilizers that could be transferred to your food.
If you are growing lavender in your own garden, mark your plants so you remember to not use any products on or around them that could be harmful if ingested. When drying lavender, choose a warm, dry, and dark spot with good airflow. Place a paper sack over the flower stems to protect the buds from dust and small pests. You can also dry them on dishes indoors, covered with a linen or cotton cloth. Once the buds are dry store in glass jars with a tight-fitting lid and keep in a dark spot to keep the colors bright. You can also purchase colored jars for this purpose.
Here are a few simple Cooking with Lavender recipes for you to try at home:
Lavender simple syrup
Lavender simple syrup is a popular ingredient used in making lemonades, cocktails or to sweeten fruit salads and cereals.
The basic recipe uses equal parts sugar and water heated until the sugar dissolves and then it’s cooled and stored. For natural color, you can add a few fresh blackberries or blueberries.
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons culinary lavender
8–10 fresh blueberries or blackberries, crushed
Place all the ingredients in a saucepan, and cook over medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat, and let cool completely to allow the lavender flavor to infuse into the syrup. Strain your syrup into a clean bottle with a tight-fitting lid. Store in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 weeks.
Yield: 16 ounces
These sweet, fragrant scones are a great way to start your day.
You can also prepare the dough ahead of time and keep in your freezer. They make a quick and easy breakfast treat served with fresh fruit, homemade preserves, and some lavender tea or coffee.
3 cups flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried lavender buds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup cold butter cut into cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a food processor, or by hand, mix together all of the dry ingredients. Add the cold butter and process or mix by hand until your mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the vanilla to the buttermilk. In a large bowl, add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until you have a rough dough. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead a few times, until a dough forms.
Divide the dough in half, and pat into two 8 inch rounds. Cut the rounds into 8 wedges each and place the wedges on a large cookie sheet. Brush with a little buttermilk. Bake for 13–15 minutes until golden brown. (If your dough was frozen, bake for 20 minutes.) After removing from the oven you can sprinkle with some lavender sugar then place on a wire rack to cool.
Yield: 16 scones
Herbes de Provence
This classic herbal blend originates from the Provence region of southeast France, well-known for its lavender fields.
It makes a nice seasoning alternative to salts on grilled meats and pasta. Sprinkle it on deviled eggs, and mix it into sour cream and cream cheese. It also makes a nice gift from your garden.
2 teaspoons dried lavender buds
2 teaspoons dried thyme
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried summer savory
1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
2 teaspoons dried lemon zest
Mix together all the ingredients by hand, or give them a quick whirl in the food processor. Store in a clean, dry colored jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Yield: 3 ounces