Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Cooking with Lavender

Lavender makes a wonderful addition to bread

Love it, hate it or perhaps just a little afraid of it. Blue, mauve, indigo and pink, wonderful aromatic lavender isn't always in vogue  ..  but it always seems to get a reaction.  I'm a fan and simple dishes such as lavender infused sugar sprinkled on strawberries and cream or lavender laced crème caramel seems to elevate the top notes with purple fresh mint tones.  It's a hard taste to describe ..  but really wonderful and so thank goodness lavender is fashionable to cook with again.

I suppose the best way to describe Lavender is that it overlays a sweet fruity floral mintyness to food works with both sweet and savoury and it somehow transforms the everyday into something remarkable just by showing up in the dish, however it is worth noting that with lavender  .. less is more. 

There is a superb article by Sudi Pigot in The Independent a few days ago and it’s interesting to read that lavender is really in back in fashion in the upper elisions of the culinary world, however it is also worth noting that not all lavender is delicious. 

The Intermedia varieties such as  Alba, Grosso, Dutch white, Old English and Seals that are grown commercially for perfume have far different culinary properties from the cottage garden Angustifolia used for cooking..  frankly I find that the Intermedia varieties are almost always revolting in food being both harsh and camphorous. Before you panic and wonder which lavender  to cook with, it is the bog standard cottage garden species of lavender Angustifolia, that gives the sweet vanilla tones and is perfect for culinary use.  Hidcote, Munstead, Rosea or indeed any Angustifolia will be beautifully scented and absolutely delicious to use.

To get the very best lavender flavour you must pick the unopened buds.  Chose a warm day about midday when the sun is high because the heat concentrates the oils for more intensity. Once opened the flowers lose the essential oils that impart the flavour. Dry your lavender upside down, spaced out to allow air around the flowers, in a well-aired dark environment.  3 days is enough to dry lavender picked in this way. Do keep them in the dark you keep the intensity of the colour.  Store in an airtight container, out of sunlight.  You should make a fresh batch each year; if you don’t have lavender in the garden there are many pick our own farms or you could be really cheeky and ask a friendly neighbour.

Perhaps the simplest way to infuse lavender into food in a gentle way is to make lavender sugar, but you can also use it fresh by using double the amount of fresh lavender to dried lavender in a recipe, and although you can buy books with lavender recipes in them .. somehow just adding on to sprinkle to your normal everyday cooking seems to me the best way to enjoy. 

So do you love it, hate it or are you a wee bit scared of it? 


  1. I'm just a little bit scared that whatever I make will "taste of the smell of a Nanna" but I love the idea. I have a Lavender creme brulee at Galvin at Windows but I think they were scared as you could barely taste the lavender.

  2. Interestingly lavender came up on the GBBO this evening and there was a comment that it had a hint of the knicker drawer about it! I love lavender cookies, they give a sophistication to an otherwise ordinary desert. So knickers or not, I always have a jar of lavender sugar in the cupboard. GG

  3. I have just been catching up with a few of your latest posts and have been so impressed. I love what you are doing both in your cooking and in your beautiful home and garden. You have impeccable taste. I have been meaning to get some lavender plants for the allotment as I love to make biscuits with it. Now bread, that is a brilliant idea! xx

  4. I was originally inspired to cook with lavender after reading your book. I'm particularly pleased with my Apricot and Lavender Jam, which I have been eating on toast or with yoghurt for breakfast.
    I think everyone should try and use it, it's lovely in scones and cupcakes, though I've yet to try bread.

  5. The surprising thing about cooking with lavender is that it has absolutely no hint of the "knicker drawer" - thankfully! A couple of weeks ago Monty Don on Gardener's World advised us to cut back our lavender and I've been loathe to do so because it just seems such a shame to deprive the bees of some nectar - however I have been encouraged by your post Vanessa to cut some of it back and add it to a jar of sugar and have a look through Prepped for some additional recipes. Thank you.

  6. I make a honey and lavender sourdough bread, using wholemeal and white flour, that doesn't remind you of ways of repelling moths. It's a blend of the slight acidity of the sourdough, the strength of the wholemeal and the balancing sweetness of the honey that brings out the fragrance of the lavender. It's one of my favourite breads, and I only make it in summer.

  7. I have used it to make cakes and biscuits and some of my creations have been from your recipes in prepped...lavender and lemon bunt cake was the latest, I am not a great bread maker though, but it sounds lovely as a bread ingredient.

  8. site shimmer will probably be the original dunkle http://onlinecasinoworld.weebly.com best online casino


If you are reading my blog I must warn you that I am not impartial. I want to influence you. I want to make you stop for just a moment and consider the effect of a lifetime of seemingly insignificant decisions and how making small delicious choices can change the world.

I believe that we can change the world one bite at a time.

It's a delicious revolution.