Here we are with part two of our edible botanicals series. This week we are discussing something that I am passionate and excited about – lavender! Lavender is incredibly versatile. Its floral scent is calming, and its appearance adds romance and beauty to any dish. Lavender is perfect for drinks, baked goods, glazes, and as a garnish.
When cooking or baking with lavender look for the Munstead variety for the best flavor. You can use any variation of lavender, but each variety will give you a different taste outcome.
Baked goods are a great candidate for the addition of lavender. It is especially delicious as a pairing with citrus desserts. The lavender melds deliciously with citrus flavors – think lemon lavender pound cake, orange lavender shortbread. YUM.
There are a few things to think of when baking with lavender – you want to enjoy the floral flavor without chewing on the flower parts. The best way to grind up the flowers is to use a coffee grinder dedicated to herbs. The ground lavender can be mixed with the recipe’s allotment of sugar and combined that way. Alternatively, you may choose to make a syrup from your lavender (straining the flowers after the infusion is complete). The method depends on what you are making.
Pairing lavender with citrus flavors also reduces the impact of the strong lavender flavor. Lavender can easily overpower any dish, so use restraint when adding it to recipes that don’t have a guideline amount. When experimenting with adding lavender to recipes, start conservative and add more the next time you make the recipe, if necessary. No one wants to feel like they are eating straight lavender flowers.
The lavender sprig is a gorgeous addition to baked goods and meat dishes. Its scent can calm and ease stress, and its appearance is something that adds whimsey and delicacy. Adding decorative touches of lavender to cakes, drinks, and meat dishes can take the visual presentation of a plate up a level or two. Try this for your next dinner party or birthday event and wow your guests.
You can also utilize the leaves of the lavender plant to make your own Herbs de Provence to flavor potatoes, salmon, lamb, chicken or pork. Add dried lavender leaves with thyme, rosemary, sage, and oregano for a delicious homemade herb mixture. Bonus points if you grow each of the herbs in your garden and dry them yourself! The flavor and appearance of the herb mix will be worlds better than anything you can buy in the store.
Try adding dried lavender flowers or leaves to different sauces to make homemade meat glazes. You can add these to anything from chicken to salmon. You can use many different glaze mediums – honey, vinaigrette, butter, olive oil. Imagination and the lure to your tastebuds are your only limitations when it comes to cooking with lavender.
Lavender can even make drinks more exciting. You can dry your homegrown lavender to make a homemade hot tea blend. You can start with a simple syrup containing lavender and add to iced teas, lemonades, smoothies.
You can start your day with a lavender infused smoothie, and end it with a floral libation. You can make lavender infused vodka by adding ¼ cup lavender flowers per 750ml of vodka. Shake the mixture and put it in your freezer for four to seven days for a delicious alcohol infusion. Also, check out the Yummly website for tons of great lavender drink recipes. You will not regret it.
I hope you found some inspiration to add lavender to your diet. As we all know, lavender is fabulous for calming the body, but it also adds some great flavor to food and drink. Have you cooked or baked with lavender? If you have, I would love to hear what you thought of it.