Cooking With Culinary Lavender

lavender-350

About

Lavender is native to the Mediterranean. One of the major producers of culinary lavender today is Holland. As culinary lavender has gained in popularity several growers have cropped up in Northern California. In addition to selling the blossoms, many growers house bees and produce lavender honey. Although cooking with lavender is hardly a new concept it has become a culinary trend in the U.S. dating back to the late 1990''s. Lavender blossoms can be used to add a delicate scent to a simple dessert like creme brulee, or added to a rub for lamb. Of course you need to be sure you purchase culinary lavender to make sure it has not be treated with pesticides and to insure it is pure and has no artificial scents added.

History

The Romans used lavender to culinary lavender with bowlscent their baths well and the herb was used medicinally as well.  They also used the dried flowers to scent and flavor jellies as well as other sweets.

Queen Elizabeth I of England requested that lavender conserve be at her table each day.

Cleopatra wore lavender scent to seduce Julius Cesar.

Lavender was an essential ingredient in "Four Thieves Vinegar" a tonic and treatment for victims of the infamous black plague.

Other Uses For Lavender

Medicinal Uses

Once source (Herbs & Herb Gardening by Jessica Houdret) states that the flowers can be steeped in water and the infusion used as a compress to relieve headaches. It is also used externally as an antiseptic.

Lavender Sugar

Lavender sugar is easy to make at home.  Bruise dried lavender flowers and add them to superfine or confectioners sugar. Store in an airtight jar until used. Use a sieve to remove flowers before use. Add the scented sugar to cakes, meringues or other sweets for a delicate flavor.

Lavender Salt

Add about 2 tablespoons dried culinary lavender blossoms to about 1 cup of high quality sea salt such as Fleu de Sel and store in a tightly sealed jar.  Allow the salt to sit for at least two days before using.  Use as a rub for meats.

Fun Fact about Cooking With Culinary Lavender

Buy and Store

Dried lavender can be purchased health food stores and some "gourmet" shops. Do not purchase lavender to be used in cooking from a craft shop unless the specify that it can be used for food. Culinary lavender grown for non-food use may contain high levels of toxic pesticides.

To store, keep in an airtight container and store in a cool, dry location.

Grow Your Own

Lavender Lavender plants have long stalks with feathery little purple blossoms.  They can be used as a hedge, massed in single planting area or placed in large pots.  Traditional kitchen gardens in France and England typically include a planting of lavender.  In addition to looking beautiful, the plants will attract bees, butterflies and other beneficial garden insects.

Lavender plants can be found in most nurseries in various sizes from small 6" pots to 5 gallon cans, ready to transplant.  The plants are easy to grow and are actually tolerant of a fair amount of abuse.  Lavender stalks can be trimmed off then hung upside to dry in the sun.  Once dry the blossoms can be removed from the stalks and stored in jars or tins.

lavender in clay pots

Sources And Credits

Herbs & Herb Gardening -  by Jessica Houdret

author

Barbara Bowman graduated with degree in Foods and Nutrition from San Jose State University. As CEO of GourmetSleuth.com she spends most waking hours writing, cooking, eating, gardening and traveling.