We are often asked about cooking with lavender. Certainly lavender can add the extra “something” to your dishes, but it does need to be used in moderation. The most common way is to use dried lavender flowers – culinary lavender. This culinary lavender is usually produced from lavandula angustifolia (often called “English lavender”). It should be mainly the flower buds but a few leaves and small bits of stem won’t do any harm. The dried lavender can be added to all sorts of dishes: stews (like any other dried herb), a marinade or rub for meat, dough for bread, sugar, cake mix etc. With dishes like ice cream and panacotta the milk/cream can be infused with the lavender until you get the desired flavour. The buds can then be strained out. For all dishes you need to find the right level of flavour that suits you. We are often amazed how one person says that they cannot taste the lavender and another says that it is too strong for the same dish!
You can also use the pure lavender oil in your cooking. However, because of it’s strength, just one drop is the equivalent to a tablespoon of dried lavender so you need to use it sparingly. One way around this is to make up your own essence by diluting the oil with vodka – perhaps 10 drops in 30mls. You can then control the dosage better, and in a hot dish the vodka will evapourate off.