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Flowers, flavour, fragrance – lavender belongs in every home
The violet-coloured flower is worth discovering, not only as a wonderfully calming fragrance, but also as a flavourful kitchen herb.
Lavender, and lavender oil, is best known as a fragrant element in perfumes, soaps and bath products. Dried lavender buds make a beautiful ornamental plant for both indoors and outdoors, and can often be found in wardrobes as a remedy for moth infestations. Additionally, the blue-violet blossom has been a part of the Southern European cuisine for quite some time. Its flavour is reminiscent of rosemary and it can also be used in a similar way.
Dried lavender is commonly used in every “Herbes de Provence” herb mix and is a tasty element in many desserts, jams and meat dishes. Lavender syrup is also a wonderful addition to a wide selection of drinks including tea and cocktails. Lavender tea, either pure or mixed with other herbal teas, is the perfect hot drink for evening time. The flavour and aroma of the tea calms the mind and relaxes the stomach.
linalyl acetate, linalool, camphor
(fresh) flowers in summer; (dried) all year round
|(fresh) refrigerate; (dried leaves) store dark and dry|
|(fresh) a few days; (dried) up to 6 months|
Lavender originated in the Mediterranean region - it is therefore no surprise that the flower is used in the Mediterranean cuisine. While the south of France, Italy and Greece are some of the largest cultivation areas today, the plant also grows well in more northern regions where it can be a great addition to gardens, balconies and even windowsills. The so-called English lavender is best eaten fresh and pesticide-free for the most aromatic taste.
The dried blossoms have quite a different flavour to the fresh flowers. Sprinkle some ground or roughly chopped dried blossoms over your meal just before serving. Be careful to use lavender sparingly – it can be quite an intense flavour which can easily overwhelm a dish. However, the right amount of the beautiful blossoms can lend ice cream, soup or salad a light, flowery and herbal essence.
The unusual fragrance can be used to infuse oil, honey, salt and sugar. For a delicious lavender salt, you simply need to mix lavender blossoms together with sea salt, and leave it to infuse in a sealed jar for a week. Afterwards, remove the lavender blossoms and use the salt to season things like fish and meat. For those with a sweet tooth, infuse your own lavender sugar by mixing 500 grams of sugar with a tablespoon of lavender blossoms. Leave it for one day in a sealed jar before removing the purple flowers. Try playing with the ratio of lavender to salt or sugar according to your taste.
Experimenting with lavender can be a lot of fun. Perhaps try using some lavender sugar in a lemon cake – the sour citrus flavour and the bitter sweet taste of the lavender, really complement each other in a light and fluffy cake. For a savoury option, sprinkle some lavender blossoms on top of a seafood pasta dish such as farfalle with anchovies. The blossoms retain their vibrant purple colour even after drying, which makes them not only one of the most aromatic herbs in the kitchen, but also one of the most attractive herbs.
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