This post will go over several of the culinary uses of lavender so that you can start benefiting from the herb growing in your garden. After all, when you care for lavender, it is nice to reap some of the benefits.
What is Culinary Lavender?
Culinary lavender is derived from plants that have been specifically grown and processed to be eaten. Typically, English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) varieties are the ones harvested for culinary use as they have a better taste compared to French, Spanish, or hybrid varieties. When eating lavender, you are ingesting the bud of the plant.
That being said, if you are processing your own lavender at home, it should be edible, even if it isn’t English lavender. The only difference will be taste. Many varieties don’t taste as good as some of the ones listed below.
If you are purchasing lavender to eat, make sure that it is marked for culinary use as it will be processed differently than blooms used for cosmetic or crafting purposes. While the others may technically be edible as well, they may include portions of the plant that isn’t usually eaten or be sprayed with something to enhance its scent.
Best Culinary Lavenders
Here are a few lavender varieties that are typically grown for culinary use due to their enjoyable taste (all are Lavandula angustifolia):
Many home cooks have come to expect all-around usefulness from the Buena Vista variety that goes well in severe dishes.
If you like the flavor of cinnamon, you may enjoy the floral tastes of Croxton Wild.
Folgate Lavender has several uses and tastes good in many different dishes.
The Melissa variety tastes slightly peppery.
Miss Katherine is the perfect variety for those who want to infuse their sugar with lavender
How to Process Lavender for Culinary Use
After you have harvested and dried your lavender, you will be able to start preparing it for culinary use. Here is the process you will need to take:
Disbud your lavender using one of several methods. If you have a small amount, you can use your fingers to remove the buds from the stems. Otherwise, you can tap your lavender on a container to held dislodge the buds or roll the dried flowers between your hands to remove it. Find the method that works best for you overall.
Use a sifter or colander to sift the lavender buds to remove any leaves or stems that have fallen into the container. While these parts of the plants aren’t poisonous, they don’t taste as good as the buds and could cause the dish or tea to become bitter if too much is left behind. You may want to sift your buds several times for the best results.
Once you have your buds, carefully brush through them by hand and pick out any major debris that wasn’t caught in the sifting process.
When you are satisfied with the cleanliness of your lavender buds, put them in an airtight container to be used throughout the year. If kept out of moisture and light, they should be good for 1 to 3 years.
Typical Culinary Uses for Lavender
Here are some of the more common culinary uses for lavender:
Tea is possibly the most common use of culinary lavender. You can either measure out lavender buds into reusable tea bags or use a strainer. Simply brew your tea for about 20 minutes or until your desired taste to enjoy this treat.
You can add lavender to your sugar to infuse the taste into your baked sweets or anything else you add sugar to as a garnish (such as on top of citrus). Simply grind your lavender buds really fine and mix them in with the sugar.
Lavender syrups are used to sweeten coffee, create frosting, sweeten pancakes, and more. There are several recipes for it online, starting with a simple one that mixes 1 part water and 1 part sugar with the blossoms, boiling the concoction for 1 minute, then allowing it to simmer for 30.
You can use lavender as an herb in salads, in bread, as a topping for ice cream, and many other types of dishes. Whether it is cooked into the dish or used as a garnish, lavender can be both a decorative and flavorful element.
While this method doesn’t use lavender buds, it can help you use some of the stems. Cut long stems from your lavender plant and use them to thread the meats and vegetables you want to use on your kabab. Not only do people use lavender for this, but they also use rosemary. Each herb will give your kabab an extra bit of a unique flavor.
Tips for Using Lavender in Culinary Dishes
Here are a few tips that will hopefully help you use lavender satisfactory in your culinary dishes:
Use a Small Amount
Lavender has a very strong taste and a small amount can go a long way in your recipe. It is good to try your recipes going easy with the herb, then add more as you learn what is best for your personal taste.
If you don’t want buds in your food, you can also infuse your lavender. You can either grind it up and mix it with your sugar or other fine grains or herbs or you can infuse it in syrup that can be mixed into your recipes.
Pair With Other Strong Flavors
As lavender is a strong flavor, it does best when it is paired with other strong flavors. Look for great recipes that pair the herb with meat or citrus to see good results. You can also use them in baking recipes.
Fresh vs Dried Use
When using dried culinary lavender, you will want to use about 1/3 of the amount you would use if you were using fresh buds. This is due to flavor intensifying as it dries.