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Using the Lavender Flower as a Culinary Herb?


Sure Lavender is a lovely flower and its "easy to care for" nature is responsible for its pick in Landscaping, but did you know that world-wide it is a popular & versatile Herb used in Food, Spice Blends, Jelly and even Tea?

Hood River, Oregon (PRWEB) January 1, 2007-Joel Orcutt of Hood River Lavender Farms says "Lavender is so much more versatile as an Herb and an accompaniment to food and drinks than what we here in the United States know." "It is often used in Parisian Bakeries, as a Spice Herb and even ice cream in Europe. When the proper amount of a good culinary variety of lavender is added to sweets or citric drinks, the imbiber is treated to a clean, non-perfume fresh taste that is both pleasing and inviting to the palate" says Joel.

Lavender is an herb, and one of the many members of the Mint family. Extremely versatile in cooking, it also adds nice color and garnish to a dish. One of the more popular ways to use lavender is to create an "infusion" of lavender with the liquid used in a recipe. For example, in a cake recipe one would take the "liquid" called for in the instructions and put it into a pan on the stove with approx. 1 TBS of culinary lavender, bring the 2 ingredients to a simmer, remove from heat, cover and let "steep" for 10-20 minutes. Then merely filter the lavender out of the liquid let it cool to room temperature and use as called for in the recipe.

A word of caution here, less is better when using lavender in food. The goal is to create a background flavor, distinctive and mysterious with a lovely color, not a forefront flavor that can overpower food. You want the dish to have a slight addition of lavender to its aroma, not be like perfume.

Lavender varies in taste just as it varies in appearance and aroma. The English Lavenders (angustifolia) are the preferred lavenders to use as culinary as they are milder, sweeter, and do not over-power the dish. Within these varieties there is still more variation when used as a culinary herb. Provence lavender, a hybrid known as a lavandin, is an exception to the rule. Because of its milder flavor it is often used when English Lavender is not available, and some cooks even prefer it above angustifolia. "In all cases", according to Joel, "make sure you know where your culinary lavender came from." While many commercial lavender farms are certified organic, some are not and still use harsh herbicides and chemicals that you do not want to consume in your food. Apparently, lavender is still thought of as a flower for the cut-flower business first, and as a culinary item for ingestion as a secondary by-product.

All culinary lavender blends very well with citrus, mint, rosemary, sage, berries, fruit, meats, chocolates, and even drinks. Lavender is finding its way into syrups used in lattes and steamers, lemon and limeades, Gourmet coarse salts, margaritas and mojitos, scones, meats and seafood, cookies, cakes & cobblers just to name a few. Lavender is known for its calming ability and as a sleep aid, and used in Teas and Tisanes it has a very practical as well as flavorful use.

"Lavender is having a popular and profound affect on the culinary front here in the U.S.", says Joel. "We, as a lavender farm that offers culinary lavender, recipes, and often samples of lavender goodies, are still surprised at how fast the masses are accepting lavender in food. Most of our favorite recipes are coming from our customers these days. One's imagination is the only limit when cooking with this versatile herb."

Joel, and his Wife Diane, own & operate Hood River Lavender Farms in Hood River, Oregon. Their certified organic U-PICK farm is open from April-November 7 days/week, and they offer culinary lavender and recipes on their website

They can be reached at (888) LAV-FARM or email: info@lavanderfarms.net

For more information on cooking with lavender visit these sites: http://www.whatscookingamerica.net and on yahoo groups at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/LAVENDER-RECIPE/

 

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