Cooking with Lavenders
Updated: Jul 15
It is true that all lavenders can be eaten but not all lavenders SHOULD be eaten.
Lavenders are grown for their oils which is then used in perfumery and cooking. Culinary lavender has a more delicate flavour. However, less is more when cooking with lavender. As with all dried herbs, dried lavender is stronger than fresh lavender.
Following are the two best lavender varieties to use when cooking.
Lavender 'Hidcote' -
Prized for its highly aromatic flowers, this lavender is a favourite of oil producers and cooks. Lavender 'Hidcote' is a compact plant growing to 50cm. It is packed with bright purple-blue flowers. The needle-like foliage is grayish green, providing an amazing backdrop to the blooms. The summer blooms are attractive to numerous pollinating insects. Lavender needs well-draining soil, preferably slightly sandy and a sunny location. Hidcote cannot tolerate humidity and will not perform well in areas that are overly moist. In areas with higher humidity, provide plenty of ventilation.
Lavender 'Munstead' -
Lavandula 'Munstead' was introduced in 1916, and this classic Lavender remains one of the most popular with good reason. Flowers are just a bit lighter than Hidcote and extremely fragrant. Lavender 'Munstead' is a compact plant growing to 50cm. It is packed with bright rosy purple flowers. The needle-like foliage is grayish green, providing an amazing backdrop to the blooms. The summer blooms are attractive to numerous pollinating insects. Lavender needs well-draining soil, preferably slightly sandy and a sunny location. Lavender ‘Munstead’ is one of the hardiest varieties of lavender. In areas with higher humidity, provide plenty of ventilation.
Lavender prefers full sun to a small amount of shade and must be grown in well draining soil with a pH between 6 and 8. Keep your lavender on the dry side. Because of the aromatic oils in its leaves, lavender has few insect pests
One of the easiest things you can do with lavender is make Lavender Sugar. Using one and a half teaspoons of fresh lavender flowers striped from the stems, stir through one cup of white sugar. Place in an air tight container. Store in a cool, dark cupboard for a week before using. Use the flavoured sugar in shortbread, sprinkled over a sponge or stirred into berries.
Lavender flowers can be used to flavour cream and milk. Stir flowers through the cream and milk and leave to steep. Strain the lavender flowers before using or whipping the cream. The longer the lavender is allowed to steep the stronger the flavour. Regularly taste to obtain the flavour strength you required.
Sometimes lavender will need something to balance it, lemon juice and zest are perfect for this.
Mug of milk
Drizzle of honey
Dash of vanilla
Approximately 1 tablespoon of lavender
Place ingredients into a saucepan and gently heat. Once warm enough to drink, remove from heat and strain. Serve immediately.
2 cups boiling water
1 cup lavender flowers
2 cups cold water
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup sugar
Instructions Place the lavender in a jug and pour the boiling water over the lavender; cover with plastic wrap and allow to steep for 10 minutes; strain and discard the lavender from the water. Return the lavender water to the jug. Add the cold water, lemon juice and sugar to the jug and stir until the sugar dissolves. Refrigerate until serving. Please note that you may need to adjust the amount of lavender to suit your taste buds.