Seasonal Spotlight: Cooking With Lavender

Seasonal Spotlight: Cooking With Lavender

Faith Durand
Jun 19, 2008

Yesterday we realized that we had given you three whole recipes with lavender recently, and that this reflects our current inclination to throw lavender into dessert left and right. This craze for lavender will probably taper off soon, but there are good reasons to reach for it in the late spring and summer, when fresh berries are at their peak. Here are some tips for cooking with lavender, and links to all our lavender recipes.

Why cook with lavender? Used in moderation, lavender's gently herbal flavor brings out the sweetness and freshness of rhubarb, strawberries, cream, honey, and other summertime dessert staples. If used too heavily, lavender can impart an unpleasant bitterness, so be careful. We made our Lavender Blueberry Custard pie several times to work out just the right amount of lavender for our taste.

Try adding just a half teaspoon of dried lavender to your next fruit crumble or steeping a little bit with your next batch of ice cream.

• We usually cook with dried lavender - not fresh. You can find the dried buds in packets in Asian markets.

• Steeping: Most recipes with lavender call for steeping in cream. It doesn't take long to steep warm cream or milk with lavender; just a few minutes will give you a delicate herbal flavor.

• Baking with lavender: The same principles apply when you're adding lavender as an ingredient, as opposed to steeping it for flavor. Use a light hand. We add just a sprinkling of lavender buds to our rhubarb crumble, and it was plenty to give it a delicate flavor. We were amazed by how much it brought out the rhubarb's intensely fruity taste.

Blueberry Lavender Cream Pie
Honey Lavender Panna Cotta
Rhubarb Lavender Crumble
Lavender Lemonade

Are there any recipes you like to use lavender in? What are they?

Related: Green Acres Farm: Lavender Isn't Just For Potpourri

(Images: Lavender, top left: Lavender by Flickr member Nefi licensed for use under Creative Commons; Faith Hopler)

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