Lavender Flowers - Can You And Should You Eat Them

Published: 03rd April 2015
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Lavender is a versatile and much underused and even, some would say, forgotten herb for cooking. In today's up market restaurants and bistros, fresh and dried edible flowers are making a comeback as enhancements to both the flavour and appearance of food.

Try adding a few to your Herbes de Provence mixture - you'll be amazed at the subtle yet extraordinary difference Lavender will make.

IMPORTANT - EDIBLE LAVENDER IS NORMALLY RATHER MORE GREY WITH A HINT OF BLUE AND SMELLS VERY STRONGLY - DEEP BLUE LAVENDER, ESPECIALLY FROM FLORISTS, IS OFTEN DYED. DO NOT eat flowers from florists or nurseries or non food related sellers showing bright blue lavender, or garden centers or do so at your own risk. In many cases these flowers have been treated with pesticides, not labelled for food crops and artificially coloured - They will also have a less strong aroma. Edible Lavender has been tested for microbial activity, is entirely free from any pesticidal intervention and is almost always greyish blue, not the bright blue of the dried Lavender bunches you see in florists which have usually had their colour augmented (dyed in other words) Such dyed Lavender is not suitable for ingestion AND COULD BE HARMFUL. You can buy edible Lavender which is much more blue than usual. It is usually labelled as Extra Blue or something similar and providing you are purchasing from a reputable source you can be assured that all it is, is that someone has hand picked the especially blue flowers from the whole source. Chocalatiers tend to love the extra blue of these flowers and are willing to pay the premium charged for the visual elegance. For taste, however, there is no appreciable difference between the regular greyish and the extra blue and the fragrance is equally strong.

As a member of the same family as many of our most popular herbs, it is not surprising that lavender is edible and that its use in food preparation is also returning. Flowers and leaves can be used fresh or dried, and both buds and stems can be used dried. Lavender is a member of the mint family and is close to rosemary, sage, and thyme. It is best used with fennel, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and savory.

English Lavender (L. angustifolia in general, and Munstead/Hidcote varieties, in particular when freshly picked) have the sweetest fragrance of all the lavenders and is the one most commonly used in cooking. The uses of lavender are limited only by your imagination. Lavender has a sweet, floral flavour, with lemon and citrus notes. The potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying. In cooking, use 1/3 the quantity of dried flowers to fresh. The key to cooking with lavender is to experiment; start out with a small amount of flowers, and add more as you go.

NOTE: Adding too much lavender to your recipe can be like eating perfume and will make your dish bitter and harsh. Because of the strong flavour of lavender, the secret is that a little goes a long way.

Lavender flowers add a beautiful colour to salads. Lavender can also be substituted for rosemary in many bread recipes. The flowers can be put in sugar and sealed tightly for a couple of weeks then the sugar can be substituted for ordinary sugar for a cake, buns or custards. Grind the lavender in a herb or coffee grinder or mash it with mortar and pestle.

The spikes and leaves of lavender can be used in most dishes in place of rosemary in most recipes. Use the spikes or stems for making fruit, meat and seafood kebabs.

The flowers look beautiful and taste good too in a glass of champagne, with chocolate cake, or as a garnish for sorbets or ice creams. Lavender lends itself to savoury dishes also, from hearty stews to wine-reduced sauces. Diminutive blooms add a mysterious scent to custards, flans or sorbets.

Trfy it out - you'll be surprised.


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Lavender Flowers - Should we and can we eat them - yes of course even the Extra Blue Lavender. Previous generations knew the value of this much misunderstood and largely forgotten herb.

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