Friday, July 10, 2009

Cooking with lavender & Lavender Sugar

First things first. If you are going to ingest lavender in ANY way, shape or form, you MUST know something about it. You can purchase culinary (food grade) lavender from grocers or specialty shops. You can grow your own or you can get it from a trusted friend. But never eat or cook with lavender from garden centers. If you purchase a lavender plant, you have no idea what might have been sprayed on it. Once you have planted it and cut it back, the next season of new stems is what you can trust. Also be wary of friends' lavender and even your own. Even if you don't THINK you put anything bad on the lavender- really stop and consider what all is around it and all of the garden chemicals you use. I'm not a purist about organic gardening. I try to keep use of chemicals way down, but there are times. :-) But it's a different story when I'm going to eat something eventually.

OK... enough of the warnings. There are lots of things to do with lavender and I am going to mix up the posts in the following weeks to tell you about recipes, craft ideas and all kinds of stuff. The easiest thing to start with is lavender sugar. It's the simplest way to use lavender in the kitchen and the easiest way to find out if your family likes the stuff. You can also "ease" them into it this way.

Just put some lavender in a container of sugar and cover it. That's it. You can use fresh or dried. I put some stems in the sugar for a pretty picture. But what I generally do is put the lavender in a little bag (cheesecloth, mesh, organza- whatever- just as long as it's clean). This keeps me from having to strain the sugar. I like to use fresh lavender, but I suppose dried works, too.

Using lavender sugar in tea gives you a milder lavender flavor than brewing lavender tea. It's also nice to sweeten iced tea. You can make your own unsweetened lemonade and add the lavender sugar to it. (I'll post other recipes for lavender lemonade soon). You can sprinkle it on a grapefruit half. You can use it for the topping of creme brulee. Use it in place of plain sugar in shortbread cookies or sugar cookies. Put the lavender sugar next to your plain sugar container. Every time you go to use sugar, ask yourself if you think you might like to try lavender sugar for this.

By the way- if you ever use a real vanilla bean in a recipe, after you scrape out the seeds, place the bean in a jar of sugar and shake it up. As you use it, just keep adding sugar. It's wonderful! Hmmm.... I just got an idea! I think I'll try mixing a few lavender stems AND a vanilla bean in a container of sugar. Yum!

Can you think of other uses for lavender sugar? Let's hear them!


Rosa-Munda said...

What about lavender ice cream, lavender frosting/icing for a cake, oh gosh the list could be endless!!
Thank you for the interesting posts on lavender - I love to use it at home but had never thought of eating it!! Ros

Jen said...

Oh man, now you have me craving lavender lemonade, one of my favorite drinks. I'm interested in seeing how you make it.