A Guide To Buying And Storing Lavender
Although we tend to think of lavender as a scent, it’s actually an ancient cooking herb – and one that’s making a strong comeback in many of the finest restaurants across the world.
Affordable and easy to find (and grow), lavender adds a unique aroma and flavor to cooking that few of your guests will be able to define.
But they will love it!
How to Buy Lavender
It might be tempting to buy dried lavender from a gift or craft shop and use it for cooking – but don’t do it. You need food grade (or “culinary grade“) lavender, which is free of harmful chemicals. It’s fine to use lavender from your garden, too, as long as you haven’t used pesticides on the plant.
Do bear in mind that different varieties of lavender not only have varying scents, but varying flavors. English Lavender (L. Angustifolia) is the sweetest smelling and the most commonly used among chefs. Another good choice is Lavandin Provence. Feel free to experiment; some lavenders have a floral flavor, while others have a mildly lemony taste.
How to Store Lavender
Keep dried culinary lavender in its original container, or in any air tight container. For the longest lasting herb, keep the container in a cool, dry and dark location.
If you’re not using a recipe that calls for lavender, remember: it’s vital to use only a small amount of the herb. Lavender is rarely the central flavor of a dish and too much lavender makes a meal bitter. A tiny amount goes a long way.
If a recipe calls for fresh lavender, substitute about 1/3 dried lavender.
Ideas for Using Lavender
Lavender is excellent with lamb, chicken, pork, or beef, but is equally at home in cakes, cookies, jams and other sweets.
Substitute a tiny amount of lavender for rosemary in your baking, or use the leaves in place of rosemary in savory dishes.
Sprinkle salads with a small amount of lavender flowers.
Use lavender in red wine reductions and stews.
Make your own lavender sugar to sprinkle on cakes or to use in place of ordinary sugar when you bake: Place two lavender flowers in a clean coffee mill, along with about 3 tablespoons of sugar. Grind together until fine. Store the lavender sugar in an air tight container in the freezer.
Lemon is a great companion to lavender, as is honey.
Be sure to check out Our Deer’s lavender recipes for more great ideas.
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