Lavender is a strikingly beautiful culinary herb that has long been treasured for its beautiful, delicate purple blooms and wonderful, soothing fragrance.
Lavender is more than just a pretty face, however. It has also earned a respected place in the kitchen due to its delicious flavor. This is one herb that is a welcome addition to any herb garden.
Lavender Growing Tips & Facts
Like basil, oregano, and thyme, lavender is also a member of the mint family. As with other members of this family of plants, lavender prefers a nice sunny location with very well-drained soil. Ideal growing conditions for lavender are hot and dry.
There are several cultivars available, but English lavender is the most popular. It is also the variety most used in cooking.
English lavender is actually native to the Mediterranean. It got its name because it is can withstand the more wet and humid weather conditions found in that country.
Tips for Using & Storing Lavender
A good rule of thumb when cooking with lavender is to remember that a little goes a long way. Start with small amounts and slowly add more until the desired result is achieved. Adding too much at once can leave your dishes taking like potpourri.
Also, if you buy lavender (vs. grow your own), be sure to select “culinary grade” because a lot of commercially available lavender is not safe to be consumed.
You can harvest small amounts of lavender from your own garden when the plant is 2 years old. The third year and beyond will yield a much larger harvest. Use garden sheers or a curved blade to cut through the tough stems.
Lavender can be enjoyed in both sweet and savory dishes. Fresh lavender looks beautiful and tastes great when tossed in salads or as a key ingredient in homemade ice cream. It can also be used in place of rosemary in breads and marinades.
You can also strip the leaves off of dried stems and then use the stems as kabobs for grilled shrimp or fruit. This will infuse the food with a lovely flavor.