Ingredient Spotlight: Culinary Lavender

Jun 17, 2013
Sidney Yang

Cooking with LavenderDid you know lavender flower buds are not meant to be found only into a potpourri craft project? Indeed, lovely, floral lavender is an incredible ingredient to use in baking and cooking! Professional chefs rivalize in creativity to accomodate their recipes with this fragrant ingredient. Discover how you can do the same by reading these following tips:

Culinary Lavender
Lavandula Angustifolia, particularly the “Munstead” cultivar have the sweetest fragrance among all lavender species, though most varieties can be used in cooking. The leaves and stems of lavender plants can be used for many culinary purposes, but it’s the flowers that give dishes this subtly sweet, citrus flavor.

You may find it in various delicious recipes: Lavender may be called for sauces, wines, teas and to flavor cookies, pound cakes, custards, mousses and even ice cream. Use it sparingly as its strong taste can also kill the other ingredients. So remember that a little lavender goes a long way!

Buying and storing Culinary Lavender

Try out in health food stores, farmer’s markets, Bulk Barns in Canada have some. For dried culinary lavender buds, Amazon is the way to go with its interesting bulk prices.

Keep lavender on a cabinet shelf away from the stove, into tightly lidded jars. You can also keep a jar into the fridge or freezer. If you store your lavender properly it will keep its color and lovely fragrance for quite some time.

Cooking with Lavender
Fresh or dried Lavender can be both used to add flavor and color to your recipes. If you want to dry lavender for culinary use, snip the stems off the plant just after the flowers have opened and hang the stems upside down. Wash the buds well, then dry-roast them to remove a bit of the floral taste. You can also grind lavender buds in a coffee grinder to improve the texture.

  • Lavender sugar: One great idea is to make lavender-infused sugar for baking and use it as a substitute for regular sugar in your favorite recipes. Add half a dozen flower spikes to several cups of granulated sugar and seal for a week to make delicious lavender sugar to sweeten hot or iced green or black tea.
  • Flavoring milk is also a great use of lavender. Just like vanilla, let lavender buds steep in hot milk to develop a great fragrance. Add a subtle lavender essence to custard filled fresh fruit tart by infusing the warmed milk for the custard with 1/4 cup chopped lavender flowers to each 2 cups of liquid. Steep the mixture for an hour or two, then strain out the lavender and proceed with the custard filling recipe as usual.
  • Lavender syrup to perfume fresh melon, berries or stone fruits by combining 1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup sweet  wine and 2 tablespoons orange juice. Heat the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add 3 tablespoons of chopped lavender flowers and then remove from the heat. Steep for 1 to 2 hours, then strain out the lavender. Pour this fragrant syrup over freshly cut up fruit and garnish with fresh mint leaves!
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