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Culinary Lavender in the Kitchen

We love lavender…lavender in bath & body products, home decor, candles, and we love culinary lavender in many of our favorite recipes.  Lavender is an incredible, versatile herb in the kitchen. Flowers and leaves can be used fresh for garnishes, salads and desserts.  Dried lavender buds pair well with herbs such as oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory, and add a pop of flavor to many savory dishes. Culinary lavender continues to delight our taste buds at Lavender Rhapsody.

Culinary lavender is commonly cultivated from Lavandula angustifolia plants, commonly known as English or True Lavender.  True lavender has much less oil than the aromatic lavender used in making bath & body products.  Culinary lavender has a mild, peppery, floral flavor making it the best choice to use in recipes. If a lavender dish tastes like soap, it may have been a different cultivar of lavender, or too much was used.  When purchasing culinary lavender, check to make sure it is labeled culinary lavender.  A few popular culinary lavender cultivars grown at Lavender Rhapsody are (please note this list is not all-inclusive):

  • L. angustifolia ‘Folgate’
  • L. angustifolia ‘Melissa’
  • L. angustifolia ‘Hidcote’
  • L. angustifolia ‘Betty’s Blue’’
  • L. angustifolia ‘Munstead’
  • L. angustifolia ‘Royal Velvet’
  • L. angustifolia ‘Buena Vista’

Culinary lavender offers a subtle floral scent and soothing flavor to both desserts and savory dishes. It retains aroma and flavor well and can last many months in an airtight jar.  Keep in mind, dried lavender is about three times as potent as fresh, so a good rule of thumb is to remember 1 tsp dried lavender equals about 3 tsp of fresh. We always say less is more as it can have a strong flavor if overused. We keep culinary lavender in our spice pantry to incorporate in everything from cocktails to main dishes and desserts!

It’s fun to experiment with lavender in the kitchen!  You might want to make your own lavender sugar and keep a jar on hand. It’s made from two ingredients: 1 tsp dried culinary lavender and 2 cups sugar.  Place the dried lavender in a food processor for 10-15 seconds. Add 1 cup of the sugar and blend well for 15-20 seconds until the lavender is finely ground and mixed with the sugar. Whisk the lavender sugar with the remaining cup of sugar until the lavender is blended throughout. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 6 months.  Here are just a few of the ways you can use lavender sugar:

  • Stir into beverages and use as a sweetener in lemonade, teas, etc.
  • Add to whipped cream or blend into softened butter 
  • Mix into cakes, cookies, tarts, cheesecake or ice cream
  • Line the rim of a cocktail glass 
  • Sprinkle on top of cookies, muffins, scones or sweet breads
  • Sprinkle over fresh berries or other fruits

Lavender simple syrup changes up the flavor in lemonade, limeade, tea, coffee, lattes, and cocktails. We add lavender simple syrup to the lemonade we make each summer; a glass of this cool, delicious drink makes a hot day bearable! Garnished with a sprig of fresh lavender, this crowd pleaser is sure to become your favorite. Lavender simple syrup added to sparkling water creates your own lavender soda! We love the color and flavor of the simple syrup made with our L. angustifolia ‘Buena Vista’; we once had a guest ask if we used food coloring to create the beautiful lavender color in our lemonade. Kudos to this cultivar of lavender!

Simple syrup is simple to make and takes three ingredients: sugar, water and lavender.  Combine 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves.  Remove from heat and add 1 tablespoon of dried lavender buds. Stir to blend, cover and steep for 1 hour.  Pour syrup into a sterilized glass jar through a mesh strainer to remove buds.  Refrigerate and it will keep for up to two weeks.  Dazzle your guests with beverages and cocktails made with this sweet, floral syrup.

Yes, we love sweets, but we also love pairing culinary lavender with savory dishes too. Lavender salt (2½ teaspoons chopped lavender with ½ cup coarse salt) makes a great rub for grilled meats and a delicious seasoning for root vegetables. You can buy Herbs de Provence at the store, buy why not create your own with lavender?  It’s easy to make and you probably already have the ingredients in your spice cabinet.  A basic recipe includes: 3 tablespoons dried thyme, 2 tablespoons dried marjoram, 2 tablespoons dried rosemary, 2 tablespoons dried savory, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon tarragon (optional) and ½ tablespoon dried culinary lavender. Use a spice grinder to grind the rosemary. Combine all the herbs and mix well. Store in an airtight container for up to a year.  You will love the results; a basic recipe becomes gourmet.  We love using Herbs de Provence on both beef and pork roasts, chicken, turkey and white fish.  Want to be the talk of the table at Thanksgiving?  Add to your roast turkey…let’s just say chef’s kiss!

All this talk of culinary lavender while writing this has inspired me to bake today.  Salted white chocolate lavender cookies won the toss up.  My sister is on her way over, we need something sweet to munch on while we work. We are happy to assist you with your lavender culinary needs and look forward to hearing about your culinary creations!


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