Cooking with Lavender
About five years ago I fell in love with Lavender. The smell and beauty of the plant entranced me. I quickly learned, after visiting numerous lavender farms, that it has many culinary uses and adds a unique flavor and beautiful scent to everyday dishes. I now use lavender in my cooking on a regular basis and would like to share some basic techniques here. I grow my own lavender, in numerous varieties, but the primary variety used for culinary purposes are the buds from Provence Lavender. Lavender grows easily in the sloping valleys of Provence in France, but the French generally use it for purposes other than culinary enjoyment.
1. Lavender Sugar – Very easy to make and a wonderful addition to any baked good. Just crush up lavender buds with a mortar and pestle or grind in a small food processor and add 1 Tbsp per 1 cup of fine cane sugar. Lavender sugar can be sprinkled on top of baked goodies. Or can be substituted for regular sugar in recipes – I generally substitute one/half with lavender sugar and leave the other half as regular sugar (i.e. a recipe calling for 1 cup Sugar would require 1/2 Cup Lavender Sugar and 1/2 Cup Regular Sugar).
2. Lavender Dipping Oil – Lavender is an excellent additive to infused dipping oils. I recommended the following combination that can be used for dipping bread or in salad dressings:
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Grapeseed Oil
1 Tbsp Lavender Buds
1 Tsp Oregano
1 Tbsp Sweet Basil
1 Tsp Garlic, finely diced
1 Tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
1 Tsp Freshly Ground Sea Salt
Combine in a small jar with a lid. Let sit for a week to marinate and blend. Shake thoroughly before use.
3. Lavender Dry Rub – A nice mix of dry Provencial herbs is an excellent combination with lavender and can be used to season vegetables, poultry, fish and other meat. Combine the following in a small airtight container for regular use:
3 Tbsp Lavender
5 Tbsp Sweet Basil
3 Tbsp Rosemary
3 Tbsp Parsley
2 Tbsp Thyme
1 Tbsp Marjoram
1 Tbsp Tarragon
1 Tbsp Oregano
You can mix in a mortar and pestle or small food processor for a finer sized leaf. Apply before cooking with butter, oil or other cooking agents.
4. Lavender Pepper – Another lavender variation that is super easy to make. Just buy a basic pepper grinder. I bought the one pictured here at TJMaxx for $5. Mix 3 parts peppercorns to 1 part lavender. Use on the same foods you would the dry rub above- veggies and meats. I also enjoy this on eggs – sounds crazy huh? But it is scrumptious!
5. Lavender Honey – Not something you can make very easily, unless you’re a bee keeper, but a great addition if you can find some at the market or at a lavender farm. Lavender honey is extra delicious on scones, biscuits and toast. And is an added delight to hot tea, and is fantastic drizzled over a soft cheese (like a good goat’s cheese). The buds on their own can be added to herbal tea blends. You can also use this honey or the sugar recipe above to make Lavender Iced Tea which is excellent with a little lemon. Depending on the lavender size in your sugar you may have to filter tea after adding the sugar to remove tiny lavender bits.
If you want to grow your own lavender it grows best in sandy or rocky soil that drains easily, needs good water until well established and loves the sun. When your lavender buds, just cut the stems before they start to bloom. Hang the lavender and let it air dry in a cool, dry spot. Once it has dried remove the buds (which will be loose) for culinary use or sachets or bath products. I hope you enjoy the lovely scents and tastes of this little purple gift from nature.