Greetings Lavender Lovers!
Since, I use organic culinary lavender in my cooking and baking recipes, I'm often asked by my culinary students about the difference between lavender flower buds from lavender plants in the garden, nurseries and culinary lavender.
So, let's get started on our delicious culinary lavender journey together!
The origin of Lavender is believed to be from the Mediterranean, Middle East and India. Its history goes back some 2500 years. Lavender is a flowering plant of the mint family known for its beauty, its sweet floral fragrance and its multiple uses.
There are many varieties of lavender herb plant and below are just a few:
Lavandula Angustifolia, AKA English Lavender is an endemic plant of central and western Mediterranean regions (western & northern Italy, southeastern France and eastern Spain).
Lavandula Latifolia, AKA Lavandula X Intermedia and often referred to as Lavandins. While lavandins are beautiful and smell great there is only one variety commonly used in cooking and baking and that variety is Provence.
French Lavender, a hybrid plant and AKA Lavandula x intermedia. If you want the true Provence lavender experience, the best variety to look for it, unsurprisingly, is Provence. It's widely regarded as the best French lavender for culinary uses.
Cooking with Lavender: A small amount of lavender goes a long way! Use fresh or dried buds but be cautious: The essence gets stronger and more concentrated as it dries. Use a very small amount or risk infusing the entire dish with bitterness or an oddly soapy flavor. When cooking or baking with dried lavender, use only 1/2 of the amount if the recipe calls for fresh buds. Example: 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh = 1/2 teaspoon dried.
Flavor Pairings with Lavender: Lavender's sweet, fragrant flavor complements a range of foods, both sweet and savory. Ingredients lavender goes well with include strawberries, blueberries, pears, persimmons, apples, lemon, orange, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme and of course chocolate.
Herbes de Provence: Lavender is used in the renowned French savory herb blend, herbes de Provence. Recipes vary but often include marjoram, oregano, basil, savory, rosemary and thyme in addition to lavender.
Delicious Ways to Enjoy Lavender: Baked goods, chocolate, fruit syrups (perfect for sparkling wine & champagne aperitifs), salad dressings, beurre blanc, ice cream, gelato, tarts, galettes, compote, marmalade, sorbet, Provencal-style soups, cassoulets, stews and much more!
Additionally, Lavender Stems are very flavorful and can be used as a drink's stir stick or a skewer for veggies & fruits kabobs.
Tips for using Culinary Lavender:
Sweets: Lavender's floral notes play well off berries and citrus in baked goods. Instead of adding small amounts of the actual dried flowers to recipes, try using lavender-infusedsugar for enhancing sweet dishes with just the slightest hint of floral goodness. Tone it down by infusing the dried flowers into cream for ganache, whipped cream, crème brûlée and crème anglaise or into simple syrup for iced tea or a variety of desserts and cocktails.
Savories: Lightly toast dried lavender in a dry skillet set over medium heat, constantly stirring, to deepen its complexity and remove the perfumed notes. Taking away the one quality that makes lavender so distinctive doesn't dull its unique flavor at all but rather gives palate the experience of wondering just what that wonderful flavor is instead of biting into a mouthful of floral perfume.
Lavender is renowned as a culinary herb for its clean, distinctive perfume and matching floral, ever-so-slightly-minty flavor. Make sure to buy culinary lavender buds specially marked for cooking and baking. Lavender plants at the local nursery may look appealing, but they can be laden with pesticides and other undesirable chemicals. Always use organic culinary lavender!
Culinary Lavender is hand harvested in and is free of any kind of pesticide which makes it perfectly suited for cooking and baking. This beautiful and aromatic edible flower will give your favorite dish a distinctive and unforgettable taste. In summary, culinary lavender is an incredibly versatile herb for cooking and baking.
I use organic culinary lavender pretty much in everything and above pictures are some of my sweet and savory culinary creations with lavender! Their recipes are in my first cookbook: The Art Vegan Mediterranean Cooking, which will be published in 2021.
I learned the art of cooking and baking with culinary lavender at a very young age by experimenting with varieties of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and loving the results. Click here to read my complete story: A Chef's Delicious Journey!
Happy Cooking & Baking with Lavender!
Vegan Mediterranean Personal Chef
Culinary & Wine Pairing Instructor
LavenderDesign + Cuisine
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