Cooking and Baking with Edible Lavender Varieties
By Caryn Gehlmann, Clinical Aromatherapist
This time of year I feel so fortunate to live in an area where lavender abounds. The abundance of lavender is letting me explore cooking and baking with edible lavender varieties. And I’m having so much fun!
Since cooking with lavender was new to me, I looked for a good book to help me get started. Hands down my favorite is, The Art of Cooking with Lavender, by award-winning cookbook author, Nancy Baggett. I find the recipes easy to follow, not time-consuming and the finished product is Yummy! I really enjoy and use this cookbook so much that I decided to keep it in stock on e3 online store.
The first thing you need to learn is that not all lavender is considered culinary and recommended to use in cooking, so don’t run to your backyard and start clipping lavender for dinner! You’ll want to choose culinary lavender rather than lavender plants that may be better used for drying, (aromatic buds), distilling, (essential oils), or ornamental lavender bushes, (a lovely addition to your landscaping). Many people will say to me, “I don’t like food that has Lavender in it; it tastes ‘soapy’”. Yep, someone used the wrong lavender!
Two edible lavender varieties that do well in Southern Oregon are Ana Luisa and Royal Purple. There are others, so do your research or give us a call. Enjoy experimenting! Nancy includes a comprehensive list of culinary lavenders in her book and helps you distinguish flavor profiles — ranging from mild to strong tasting.
If you decide to purchase culinary lavender, you can usually find it in gourmet or health food stores. However, in The Art of Cooking with Lavender, Nancy says imported lavender isn’t always fresh. She recommends, “Consider visiting a nearby farm during the summer blooming season to buy what you need. The beauty and fragrance of the fields will take your breath away.” Sounds like good advice to me!
Tips on Growing, Harvesting and Drying Your Own Edible Lavender
If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can learn how to grow and harvest culinary lavender following the advice in Nancy’s book or you may want to join me for one of my classes. Every year I teach classes at lavender farms here in Oregon. See the schedule for 2023 lavender classes here, or visit e3’s Facebook event page.
Explore a Variety of Edible Lavender Recipes
So far my favorite has been the recipe on page 19 of The Art of Cooking with Lavender, Caramelized Sugar and Spice Nuts. This is a crowd favorite and easy to make! You may think that lavender pairs well with desserts and you’d be right. From baked goods to homemade lavender-infused ice cream, to caramel sauce… so delicious! But what is surprising to many is the interesting flavor edible lavender varieties impart to savory dishes such as vegetables, pot roast and fish stew!
Are you feeling hungry yet? I would love to hear about your favorite lavender-inspired recipes. Please share your inspirations, including photos, with us on our Facebook page or or tag us on Instagram @essential3_aromatherapy. Bon appetit!