A member of the mint family and related to rosemary, sage, and thyme, it’s perhaps not surprising that lavender has been used in cooking for thousands of years.
Used by the Romans to flavour fish and Medieval monks to add a floral touch to sweet puddings, over the course of the last century, the use of lavender in cooking had become less popular.
However, over recent years, we’ve seen a resurgence of this aromatic herb’s popularity, with it popping up in everything from deserts and cocktails through to savoury dishes.
The wonderful aromatics of lavender that are well known in the world of fragrance can be also used in cooking, providing wonderful flavours in both sweet and savoury dishes.
Choosing the right Lavender
Lavender has a wide range of uses. When cooking with lavender, it’s important that you use lavender that is culinary/edible, rather than a type that has been prepared for other uses, which may have been treated with chemicals or harmful pesticides.
With the sweetest fragrance of all varieties of lavender, English Lavender is most commonly used in cooking with its sweet and mellow flavour.
Using Lavender in Cooking
Lavender is incredibly versatile and lends itself perfectly to use in a wide range of dishes. The taste is similar to its scent, bringing together a mix of sweet pine, camphor, and rosemary with a touch of eucalyptus thrown in for good measure.
Its wonderful flavour can be used to soften the tartness of acidic fruits, making it ideal for use with stewed fruits such as plums, rhubarb, and berries, particularly when making jams.
Fresh spikes of lavender work really well in lamb recipes and complement the flavour of herbs such as fennel, sage, and oregano, while lavender tea not only tastes great, but can also help to address the symptoms of upset stomachs and insomnia.
For sweet dishes, adding lavender into a sugar bowl will add a delicate, flowery touch that will enhance baked goods, it can also be sprinkled over biscuits and cakes, or even mixed into sorbets. Balance out its low notes with lemon juice and zest.
With their wonderful purple, blue, and lilac tones, lavender flowers also add a beautiful touch of colour and flavour to salads!
Remember, when cooking with lavender, a little goes a long way! If you’re not following a recipe, make sure you use it sparingly to avoid overwhelming the other flavours in the dish.
Here are some of our favourite Lavender Recipes….
To make 36 lavender marshmallows you will need:
- 3-4 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender buds
- 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 14g powdered gelatine
- 450g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 50g icing sugar, plus extra for dredging
- 50g cornflour, plus extra for dredging
- Make a lavender syrup to flavour the marshmallows. Add 2 tablespoons of dried culinary lavender and 2 tablespoons of water to a small pan and bring to the boil. Boil this for a couple of minutes until the liquid has reduced a little and then to cool and infuse for at least 2 hours. NB. This will make a very strongly flavoured syrup, which may not be suitable for other recipes.
- Combine the gelatine and 100ml of cold water in a bowl and set aside for 10 minutes until the gelatine has softened.
- Meanwhile pour the caster sugar and 175ml water into a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved. Once you have a clear syrup decrease the heat and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 113˚C when measured on a sugar thermometer (this is also known as ‘soft ball’ stage).
- Now immediately place the softened gelatine in the bowl of a stand mixer and start to beat on a low speed. Next slowly pour the hot sugar syrup into the bowl in a steady stream, whisking continuously until all of the syrup has been combined.
- Add 1 teaspoon of the lavender syrup and then increase the whisking speed and beat very fast for 15-20 minutes, until the mixture has thickened, cooled and is beginning to set.
- Meanwhile prepare a 20cm square baking tin, by greasing it with the sunflower oil, lining with baking parchment, greasing again with the oil and then coating the inside with a mixture of the cornflour and icing sugar (reserve the rest of this mixture for later).
- Pour in the marshmallow mixture, smooth the top and then dust with some of the reserved icing sugar and cornflour. Cover the tin with cling film and leave the cool at room temperature for 1-2 hours.
- Meanwhile make a lovely lavender sugar to coat your marshmallows by grinding 1 tablespoon of dried culinary lavender with 1-2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
- Turn out the marshmallow block onto a surface dusted with the remaining icing sugar and cornflour mix, cut them into 36 squares and then dredge in the lavender sugar.
Lavender and Lemon Panna Cotta
Panna Cotta is often the perfect dessert to serve as an indulgent treat between Christmas and New Year, when you still want something luxurious but definitely need something just that little bit lighter. The combination of floral lavender and fresh zest lemon tempered by the silky-smooth cream is just the ticket!
To serve 4
- Heat 250ml whole milk, 250ml double cream, the zest of 1 lemon, 25g caster sugar and 1 teaspoon of our lovely dried culinary lavender until just before boiling point. Then take off the heat and leave to infuse for at least an hour.
- Soak 3 gelatine leaves in cold water until softened.
- Squeeze the excess water from the gelatine leaves and add to the pan.
- Gently reheat the cream, stirring all the time until the gelatine has dissolved.
- Strain the liquid into a jug and the pour into 4 oiled ramekins.
- Place the panna cottas in the fridge for at least an hour until set and then simply turn out and enjoy!
Grilled Duck Breasts with Lavender
The deep luxuriousness of duck is perfect at Christmas, but the fatty meat does need something fragrant to cut the richness. But forget orange or cherry, lavender can be the perfect thing. This recipe simply seasons duck breasts with lavender salt before grilling.
- Use a pestle and mortar to crush 1 teaspoon of dried culinary lavender buds. Once partially ground add 1 tablespoon of coarse sea salt flakes and further pound to combine into a fragrant rub. Or if you’re short on time simply reach for a jar of our Lavender and Herb Salt!
- Score the fat of the duck breasts at 1cm intervals, making sure that you cut right through the fat but not into the meat.
- Rub a generous sprinkle of lavender salt into the skin and leave for 5 minutes to infuse.
There are several options if you wish to enjoy both the benefits and delightful flavour of lavender in yummy biscuit form. The first and simplest option is to simply add a sprinkle of our dried culinary lavender to your favourite shortbread recipe (but remember that with lavender less is often more!). Or you could follow the famous Mrs Berry’s recipe below:
- Beat 75g butter with 2 tablespoons of fresh lavender flowers, or 2 teaspoons of dried culinary lavender, until the butter is very soft, and the room is full of the scent of lavender.
- Beat in 100g caster sugar until the mixture is pale and creamy.
- Gently blend in 225g of plain flour, making sure not to overwork the mixture or you will end up with a tough shortbread.
- Roll the mixture into 2 fat sausage shapes and roll each in demerara sugar until coated. Chill each sausage, wrapped in clingfilm, for a minimum of 30 minutes and then slice each into approximately 10 rounds.
- Bake the shortbread in a preheated oven at 160℃ for 15-20 minutes until light golden brown.
- Grill the duck breasts on a medium heat until most of the fat has rendered, the skin is crisp and golden and the meat deliciously pink and tender inside.
- Simply serve with some steamed new potatoes and green veg.
Vegan Lavender Cheesecake
To make a Vegan, Dairy-Free and Gluten-Free Lemon and Lavender Cheesecake you will need:
- 70g dates
- 300g nuts (the recipe suggests a combination of walnuts and almonds but use whatever you want!)
- 600g cashews that have been soaked in water for at least 3-4 hours
- 120ml lemon juice (about the juice of 4 lemons)
- 225g honey
- 250g melted coconut oil
- 2-3 teaspoons of our delicious dried culinary lavender
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract/paste
And then it’s amazingly easy!
- Line a 23cm springform cake tin with baking parchment or clingfilm.
- Whiz the dates and 300g nuts in a food processor until you have a chunky mixture that sticks together. Press this into the bottom of the tin – wet hands are best.
- Clean out the food processor and add all the remaining ingredients. Whiz together until you have a smooth mixture.
- Pour this on top of the base and pop it into the fridge or freezer to set.
Remember that when cooking we recommend only ever using a specialist culinary lavender. Our dried culinary lavender is harvested at the optimum time from our own lavendula angustifolia variety to ensure a smooth rounded flavour. It is then dried and sieved meaning that it is ready to use whenever you are.
Lavender Eton Mess
Eton Mess is a truly scrummy dessert, especially when you add a hint of our wonderful Jersey lavender. Have a go at our recipe and you could almost pretend that you’re enjoying it with us!
- 2 large egg whites
- 100g caster sugar
- 1-2 teaspoons of dried culinary lavender
- Drop of purple food colouring (optional)
- 300ml double cream
- 500g punnet of strawberries
- Lavender syrup
- In a large clean bowl, whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks.
- Whisk the caster sugar into the egg whites little by little until the meringue becomes smooth and glossy.
- Grind the dried culinary lavender in a pestle and mortar until it forms a fine powder, then sprinkle over the meringue and whisk in with a drop of purple food colouring (if using) until combined and a gorgeous light lavender colour.
- Place spoonful’s of the meringue onto a lined baking sheet and bake at 120˚C for approx. 2 hours until crisp but not coloured.
- Just before serving whisk the double cream until it forms soft floppy peaks.
- Combine with the roughly chopped strawberries, the crumbled meringue and swirl through a drizzle of lavender syrup.
Salmon With Lavender
Side of Salmon with Pistachios, Honey and Lavender
- 75ml olive oil
- 1kg side of salmon
- 4tsp honey
- 100g shelled pistachios, finely chopped
- Zest of half a lemon
- 1tblsp culinary lavender
- 3 spring onions, finely chopped
- 70g watercress
- Preheat your oven to 180˚c. Line a baking tray with lightly greased parchment.
- Lay the salmon in the centre of the parchment, skin side down.
- Mix the remaining oil with the honey and brush half of this over the salmon.
- Combine the remaining honey mixture with the chopped pistachios, lemon zest, half the culinary lavender and the spring onions to form a chunky paste.
- Spread the paste over the fish and bake in the centre of the oven for 15-20 minutes, until the fish is just cooked and the topping is golden.
- Serve on a bed of watercress with the remaining lavender sprinkled over.
This delicious and unusual dish is sure to be a big hit for a summer dinner party, or simply scale the topping mixture back and use on individual salmon fillets for a quick supper.