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What is Lavender Herb?


Description

A fragrant floral purple flower which has delicate culinary uses when fresh or dried.

What does lavender taste like?

Sweet, floral flavour, delicate yet strong with fresh hints of lemon, mint and citrus.

Where does lavender come from?

A member of the mint family native to the Mediterranean. Lavender derives its name from ‘levare’ the Latin word ‘to wash’, so named for its application as a perfume to scent baths and clothing. The most common variety of lavender used in cooking is English lavender or lavandula angustifolia as it is the most sweet and floral. 

Lavender Uses

When cooking with lavender ensure you purchase ‘culinary lavender’ as the herb has other uses which are generally chemically treated and not suitable for consumption. 

The floral delicacy of lavender suits lite dishes best, such as fish, poultry, cocktails, light sauces, sweets, milk-based desserts and cake. 

In North America, the spice blend herbes de provence includes lavender and is used for seasoning lamb, chicken, fish, jams and desserts.

The flowers are popularly used to beautifully garnish cakes and desserts but add an unpleasant texture, ideally use lavender as an infusion or ground. 

The association of lavender with perfume means that too much of the herb within a dish will result in a perfumed and bitter flavour, therefore, use sparingly. 

Lavender Substitutes

  • Rosemary: similar in floral fragrant properties, rosemary can often be substituted for recipes which require lavender. Although not similar in taste it will likely work well to produce a desirable result.
  • Parfait d’Amour: a purple liqueur flavoured with vanilla and flower petals which can mimic lavenders aroma and taste when used moderately. 
  • Herbs de Provence: a herb blend which sometimes contains lavender and can, therefore, act as a substitute.

Lavender Compliments and Pairings

Lavender pairs best with citrus and herbal ingredients such as lemon, fennel, rosemary, sage, thyme, oregano, honey, lemongrass, fruit, berries, milk and chocolate.

Lavender Expiration and Storage

  • Fresh: delicately scented fresh lavender should be stored in a vase of water or sealed in a dry airtight container for up to a week. 
  • Dried: drying increases the potency of lavender and it should be stored in an airtight container for up to six months.

Fun Facts About Lavender

  • In the British Victorian Era, lavender was worn in a small bouquet called a ‘tussie-mussie’, a perfumed fashion accessory which was exchanged between courters. 
  • There are 450 varieties of lavender which are popularly grown for their easy cultivation and vibrant colours.

Popular Lavender Recipes

  • Lavender crusted sea bass
  • Honey and lavender glazed chicken
  • Lavender focaccia 
  • Lavender mimosa
  • Thyme and lavender sorbet
  • Lavender shortbread
  • Lavender panna cotta 

Chef Max

Michelin trained professional chef with a passion for recipe writing and all things food. I have worked for over five years at top restaurants across the UK and have gained an ability to create any recipe you desire, from comfort food recipes to fine dining recipes. My experience in food writing includes a placement at Delicious Magazine which involved feature writing, recipe testing, article research, and content creation.

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