There is a growing interest in using lavender in cooking and many want to know more about culinary lavender.
Culinary Lavender is a member of the mint family. It is an edible herb that is close to rosemary, sage, and thyme. English lavender has the sweetest fragrance of all the lavenders so it is commonly used in cooking. Flowers and leaves can be used fresh. The buds and stems can be used dried.
One of the most important things you want to know is whether or not the lavender is grown organically. It doesn't have to be "certified organic" it just needs to be grown without sprays and chemicals used to keep the weeds down or to feed the lavender. So you want to know who your grower is and know that he/she is using earth-friendly practices to grow your culinary lavender.
Some sweet lavenders that lend a slightly mint flavor to teas and cookies are the Lavandula angustifolia such as Munstead, Hidcote and Phenomenal. You can use lavender to add flavor to baked goods and other recipes.
Lavender is a strong herb that can “overdose” a recipe unless used sparingly. When beginning to experiment in cooking with lavender you should use it as a background flavor…like vanilla. You want to know it is there, but it is not the main player.
The potency of the flowers increases with drying. In cooking, we recommend using 1/3 the quantity of dried flowers to fresh. In a recipe that calls for 3 teaspoons fresh lavender, try substituting 1 teaspoon of dried.
Culinary lavender is loaded with vitamins and minerals. So pull out your shortbread recipe and add 1 teaspoon of culinary lavender to add a bit of “character”. It’s also great for chicken on the grill, roasted meats and especially good with lamb.
Good companions when cooking with lavender include: Lemon is an outstanding companion to lavender. You can add even more zest to recipes with lemon by adding the mystery of lavender…everything from lemonade and pound cake to lemon chicken. Honey is another wonderful companion to lavender. Warm honey gently with lavender in a teaball to infuse a sweet aromatic flavour into the honey. Other foods that complement lavender’s fragrant flavour include: strawberries, blueberries, pears, orange, sage, rosemary, oregano, thyme, black pepper, and chocolate. In France, lavender is used in combination with other Mediterranean herbs in a savory blend called Herbs of Lavender which often contains savory, marjoram, thyme, oregano and rosemary.