Kim was raised on fresh-made everything. When she isn't in the garden, she is in the kitchen exploring new recipes for foods she has grown.
This Plant Is More Than Just an Overused Oil
Nowadays, it seems like lavender is everywhere: in lotions, shampoos, moisturizers, sleepy-time teas, and even candles—it's everywhere.
I don't much care for lavender, though, and neither do my family members. The scent is not calming to us, but rather aggravating.
During my initial plant quest, the concept was to document and explore the uses of 500 herbs throughout history. Lavender was one of those herbs. And it had too many uses to list them all.
Lavender has been used in health and beauty, medicine, aromatherapy, massage therapy, floriography, and in the kitchen. This plant's flowers and essential oils have been employed throughout history for generations. They are reported to be calming and are often added to lotions and bath products.
Lavender, especially fresh, is highly aromatic. I am sensitive to fake fragrance and sneeze profusely when I encounter them. With this light purple bud, the scent is highly heady, overbearing, and in your face. During the summer harvest, I dry the flowers in the garage with the door open. Even then, storing the lavender flowers can be intense.
I was pleased when I found culinary uses for these flowers.
Cooking With Lavender
During my plant quest I noticed that most herbs have been employed in the use of Tea. But as a connoisseur of food, and a pretty good cook, I use a lot of herbs. It turns out that tea isn't the only way to use herbs.
As it turned out, finding actual recipes was easier said than done. Until one afternoon I stumbled upon a website called celtnet.org. It doesn't seem to be a valid web address any longer. This website had a database of Celtic recipes along with dates and histories. I had found a gold mine.
Herbs and vegetables we have never heard of or rarely if ever use anymore were in these recipes. And there was a search option, I could type in any species of plant, and if there was a recipe calling for that plant, It would show up in the list. Some of the more "popular" plants over the last few centuries had multiple, even pages, of recipes. There were thousands of recipes from all over Europe covering a time frame of over 1,000 years.
This website/database took a lot of care in putting this all together. At the top of each recipe was an exact translation of the recipe from its native language. Then a date and region. Underneath that, the recipe was itemized in current culinary standards with directions more easily understood. Unfortunately, Europeans use the metric system, and Americans, don't, so there was still work to do in order to test these recipes.
Not only do I like food, I like sweets. Cookies, cakes, ice cream . . . of course I'm going to try the desserts first!
By the way, "biscuits" are cookies in Europe.
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup almonds, ground
- 1/2 c flour
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons lavender flowers
- Mix butter, almonds, and sugar. Add flour, mixing well. Add lavender flowers and mix well.
- Roll into quarter-sized balls and place on cookie sheet about 1" apart. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
- Heat oven to 325 degrees.
- Take cookie sheet from fridge. Dip the bottom of a glass in pastry flour and gently press each cookie ball. Place in oven for 20-25 minutes. Edges should be golden brown.
It took some conversions and a few tries to get the ingredients together. When all was said and done, I was pleased with the result. A butter cookie with a hint of lavender. The aroma was gentle, and the taste pleasing.
Using a food processor, grind the almonds well. Cream the butter and add the almonds and sugar, blending until smooth. Add the flour, blending again. Add the lavender flowers and blend well.
Wash and dry your hands well for this next step. Pat some flour onto your hands and roll the dough into balls. Place them on a cookie sheet and refrigerate for one hour.
Using a flat bottomed glass, dip the bottom in pastry flour and gently flatten (slightly) the balls. Place in preheated oven and bake 20-25 minutes. The edges should be starting to turn golden brown.
Remove from oven and allow to stand one minute before transferring from cookie sheet.
Warning: These are addicting.
My kids gave them the thumb's up and they were added to the permanent household cookbook. I hope you enjoy them as much as we have.
You can purchase lavender flowers from a variety of sources, including speciality herb and tea stores, local natural groceries, and online. Up until recently, I have had to purchase bulk flowers.
How to Grow Lavender for Your Kitchen Garden
You can purchase lavender flowers in select grocery stores, herb and specialty tea shops, online from reputable dealers, or you can easily grow it at home.
Lavender is fairly easy to grow from zone 5+. There are many species of lavender, Lavandula angustfolia being the most potent. Lavender can be grown as a small shrub in the landscape or in a pot. You can acquire seeds from a variety of places, I got my seeds from Sand Mountain Herbs. I have also had great luck with Baker Creek and Victory. All three companies carry viable seed and have great customer service. There are links below to all three companies.
In the garden, lavender prefers a full sun position with average moisture. Once established, it can be drought tolerant.
When harvesting the flowers, you will want to cut the thin stalks they flower upon and place them in a safe place to dry. I use a cloth lined basket, laying the stalks in the bottom in layers to allow air to pass through them. When the stalks are dry the flowers will fall easily to the bottom of the basket.
Store the flowers in a glass jar, label and date.
Until Next Time
There are lots of ways to use lavender in the kitchen. The experiments are not over. There are lavender chocolates, lemonades, meringues, honeys . . . the list is endless. Go ahead and stock up, I think you will enjoy the many culinary uses for lavender.
And yes, you can use edible grade essential oils in recipes calling for lavender. I don't recommend it though, and this is why:
Essential oils are expensive and are better used in soaps, lotions, and diffusers.
The exchange amounts from herb to essential oil are unknown and hard to gauge. You would need less than a drop for this recipe.
It would change the texture and possibly the bake times.
© 2017 Kim French
Poppy from Enoshima, Japan on November 28, 2017:
Lavender grows in Hokkaido in summer which is a popular time to visit Japan's northernmost main island. It's interesting to see that it can be used in biscuits as well.