Lavender in the Kitchen
Lavender has been used in the kitchen since the beginning of time for it’s many medicinal purposes. Lavender can be used in the kitchen as a tea, added to softened butter for a delicious spread, made into a syrup to drizzle on oatmeal or pancakes, a spice rub to rub into chicken breasts and/or pork tenderloin before grilling and to flavor sugar.
Herb of Love
Lavender is historically known as the “herb of love,” and lavender is a relative of mint. This aromatic plant has violet flowers and green or pale gray leaves both of which add a pleasant pungency to salad, rubs for poultry and fish, and in spice blends, such as herbs de provence. The leaves can also be used to make tea. You can find culinary lavender in natural food stores and in some produce sections of larger grocery store.
Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm
The Largest Lavender Farm in the Midwest calls Washington Island located in Door County WI, home. Fragrant Isle Lavender Farm and Shop currently has over 16,000 plants and 48 different varieties of lavender growing, including white and pink lavender. More than 5,000 people come for the lavender festival alone in late July.
Many Ways to Use Lavender
This fragrant, easy-growing herb is famous for scenting soap and long ago in sachet pouches, to scent dresser drawers. When used with a light touch lavender adds a sweet, almost rosemary-like flavor to summer recipes. Harvest lavender flowers before they are fully open. Tie stems together using kitchen string or my favorite, unflavored dental floss. Hang stems upside down in a dark area. Remove buds when dry and use in a variety of ways.
One Tough Perennial
But you don’t have to travel to Provence France to enjoy lavender….
English lavenders are the hardiest (Zones 5-9) and are the earliest to bloom, with dark blue or purple flowers. Lavandin types are hybrids of English lavender, prized for their long stems and intensely fragrant flowers.
French lavender has narrow, serrated leaves. Flowers emit a camphor-like fragrance. French and Spanish lavender, sport distinctive flourishes of petals that resemble tiny butterflies at the tops of flowers. Both Spanish and French types are tender perennials, hardy in Zones 7-9. They also tolerate humidity, making them good picks for Southern gardens.
Heat Loving Lavender
Heat-loving lavender prefers well-drained soil, in a spot that receives eight hours of full sun each day. A light-color mulch of gravel or oyster shells gives a reflective boost to these sun seekers. It also drains moisture, a common cause of crown rot away from the bases of plants. Combine lavender with other drought-tolerant species, such as yarrow, coreopsis, and coneflower, that don’t require regular watering once established.
There’s no need to fertilize, as these tough plants do best in lean soil. Remove deadwood in early spring and shape after flowering by shearing back new growth by a third.
For a special treat, make this lovely, fruity Apricot Lavender Jam Perfect served with fresh baked Croissants.
From small to tall, there are more than 450 varieties of lavender.
Here are some popular varieties:
‘GROSSO’ This French type is one of the most fragrant. Tall stems are dramatic in bouquets.
‘HANA ALBA’ Pure white flowers on this dwarf English type appear luminescent in pots.
‘LULLABY BLUE’ Compact plants bear tall flower spikes in midsummer. Try this sweet-scented, English species in a big pot on patio.
‘IMPERIAL GEM’ Clusters of lasting deep blue flowers in midsummer make this English lavender a top choice for fresh and dried flower arrangements.
‘MADRID BLUE’ An early-blooming Spanish type, with perky white tuffs over purple-blue flowers.
‘OTTO QUAST’ Another Spanish-type with tidy, gray-green foliage and a top hat of winged petals. Snip back after flowering for rebloom.
Bees arrive when flowers are at their freshest and most fragrant, a sign that it’s time to harvest. All lavenders are edible. Popular culinary types include: ‘Melissa’, ‘Hidcote’, ‘Folgate’, ‘Royal Velvet’, and ‘Munstead’
Classic Flavors: Lavender is one of the Mediterranean plants in Herbs de Provence, a mix of dried herbs for seasoning.
Herbes de Provence [EHRB-duh-proh-VAWNS] An assortment of dried herbs said to reflect those most commonly used in southern France. This blend can be found in the spice section of large supermarkets. This mixture commonly contains basil, fennel seed, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, sage, summer savory and thyme. The blend can be used to season dishes of meat, poultry and vegetables. Also good with game meat, such as duck, quail or venison.
Herbs de Provence
Now you can make up your own herbs de provence mix. Perfect with Quail, Venison and or Lamb.
- 3 tablespoons dried thyme
- 2 tablespoons dried savory
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 3 teaspoons dried rosemary
- 2 teaspoons dried marjoram
- 1 tablespoon dried lavender buds or flowers
Combine herbs, and store in an airtight container at room temperature.
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup fresh lavender buds OR
- 1/2 cup dried lavender buds
In a medium saucepan heat sugar and water, stirring to dissolve sugar. Add lavender buds. Pour into a bowl; cover. Let stand 2 to 24 hours. Strain off lavender. Chill up to 2 weeks. Swirl syrup in iced tea, or spring cocktails.
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 2 to 4 tablespoons minced fresh lavender buds OR
- 2 tablespoons dried lavender buds
Mash together the butter and lavender buds. Smear butter on warm biscuits, scones, or toast.
- 2 cups white sugar
- 1/4 cup dried or fresh lavender buds
Pour sugar in a quart glass jar. Toss in fresh or dried lavender buds; Cover and shake. Let sit on the counter a few weeks, shaking occasionally. Sprinkle over fresh fruit or swap for regular sugar in shortbread or sugar cookies.
Lavender in the Kitchen
Lavender in the Kitchen is an easy step to take. Start off slowly by purchasing a small lavender plant and place it on a sunny windowsill. One whiff of fresh lavender and you’ll fall in love with the intoxicating perfume. Lavender in the Kitchen is a beautiful thing:)