17 Apr 2007

Lavender in the Kitchen

Lavender is not only loved for it's perfume but also for it's flavor. It is again becoming a favorite edible flower. As far back as the Romans, lavender flowers been used in cooking. Lavender adds a slightly sweet, floral flavor to food.

The most popular edible lavender is English Lavender. If you do not grow it yourself make sure the fresh or dried flowers have been grown for edible use and have not been sprayed with pesticides.

Before using fresh lavender flowers and leaves, wash gently and check to see they are insect free, then blot with a kitchen towel. Dried lavender is easily stored in an airtight container in a cool location. Fresh lavender can be put in a glass or vase of water. They will last a few days if the water is changed daily.

Lavender has a strong flavor especially when dried so use sparingly, both when fresh and dried. The flowers (buds) contain the lavender oil, so have a far stronger flavor than the leaves. One teaspoon of dried lavender to three teaspoons of fresh lavender.

The smell and taste of lavender stimulates the appetite and raises the spirits. The flowers also make any dish look very appetizing. Use them in your baking, in sorbets, vegan ice cream, in fruit salad and vegan jellies. A favorite of mine is a mix of sea salt, dried lavender and citrus peel, ground and sprinkled over popcorn.

You can also make a tea with fresh or dried lavender. Apart from it's wonderful flavor it can also relieve a headache, lift your spirits and relax you.

For info on the health and beauty properties of lavender oil, see the posting in my blog Herbs 'n Oils

Lavender's blue, dilly dilly, lavender's green,
When I am king, dilly, dilly, you shall be queen.
Who told you so, dilly, dilly, who told you so?
'Twas my own heart, dilly, dilly, that told me so.
Call up your men, dilly, dilly, set them to work
Some with a rake, dilly, dilly, some with a fork.
Some to make hay, dilly, dilly, some to thresh corn.
While you and I, dilly, dilly, keep ourselves warm.

Vanilla Cake (or Lavender Cake)
With kind permission of The Cat-Tea Corner one of my favorite Vegan recipe websites.

About 12 to 15 servings
2 cups water
3/4 cup sunflower or other light oil
2 tbsps white vinegar
4 tsps vanilla (For lavender cake, replace half the vanilla with crushed dried lavender buds)
3-1/2 cups unbleached flour
2 cups Sucanat® or sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsps baking soda
vegetable cooking spray

Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Combine first four ingredients in a large bowl. Combine the flour, sweetener, salt, and soda, stirring well. Add the flour mixture to the water mixture. Beat at low speed of an electric mixer until well blended. Pour the batter into a 13x9x2 inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Headache Away Tea

1 tsp dried lavender buds
1 tsp dried chamomile
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried mint
sweetener like sugar or raw sugar

Place in a teapot, pour over boiling water. Let it sit for ten minutes then strain and drink the tea. It will relax you while also taking away your headache.

Energizing Tea

1 tsp dried gotu kola leaves
1 tsp dried ginkgo leaves
1 tsp dried calendula
1 tsp dried chamomile
1 tsp dried lavender buds
sweetner like stevia or raw sugar

Place in a teapot, pour over boiling water. Let it sit for ten minutes then strain and drink the tea.

Conserve of Lavender Flowers
A Queens Delight Published 1671
Take the fresh buds, so many as you please, and mix them with three times their weight of white sugar. Beat them together in a marble mortar with a wooden pestle, keep it in a gallipot, or vessel of earth well glassed, or in one of hard stone. It may be preserved for one year.

Morrocan Spice Mix

2 tbsp ground dried lavender
2 tbsp ground dried rosebuds
2 tbsps freshly ground black peppercorns
1 tbspn ground cardamon
1 tbsp ground mace
1 tbsp ground tumeric
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp crushed fennel seeds
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves

Mix together. Store in an airtight container. Use in stews, rice and couscous.


laura jesser said...

Wow, how interesting. I have never used lavender before, but I love the smell. Thank you for sharing this--I may just be daring and try it out.

Mihl said...

Thank you for the great tea recipe. I have a cold and a headache, I will use that right away:)

KleoPatra said...

All the great lavender info. I am a fan of the scent, haven't yet tried to eat it! i'm still getting used to the idea of dandelion flower/weeds being edible! This is much more interesting than dandelions, Jackie. Nice poem there from the Cat-Tea Web site!

Emmy said...

Great post :) I made some excellent lavender cookies last month and they were so good. This local spice store I go to also sells vanilla lavender sugar and I have become absolutely addicted to it.

Marisa said...

I just discovered your blog while doing a google search for miso soup recipes and I love it! Great job! I'm learning so much, can't wait to try lots of different recipes you've posted! Cheers.

bazu said...

I've never eaten lavender before, but love the idea. Our health food store sells edible lavender, so I'll have to try this soon.

Green Earth said...

Love what you have here on lavender. Learn so much from your site. Am in the process of moving at present but plan to grow lots of lavender wherever I go. My home is up for auction next weekend.

Marion said...

I love lavender and grow many different varieties. I use it with lamb and other meats and in shortbread cookies. I add it to pie crust, for blackberry pies. I use it almost as much as I use oregano.

And of course, bath time is wonderful with lavender, with flower buds floating in the water!

mrsnesbitt said...

Hi, first time here but will bookmark it!
I notice you are from South Africa, I had the pleasure to meet Desmond Tutu in 1994!


Urban Vegan said...

Headache Away Tea--that caught my eye since I get recurring headaches.

Lavendar is one of my favorite flowers...I loved seeing field of blazing purple in Provence. Lush uses its oil in many products.

Naomi said...

I love everthing about lavender including its fragrance and relaxing properties Jackie. I will definitely give the tea recipe a go. Thanks for posting that.

Jenn said...

The recipe for Morrocan Spice Mix looks incredible! Thank you for all of the lavendar info, I just purchased some dried lavendar and was looking for a way to use it.

Sue said...

Your blog is great, I have just found a great blended salt which contains lavender and I love it and use it all the time. You have great recipes which I intend to try. Thought you might be interested in some more information on dried lavender just visit and see what you think. Keep up the good work.