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Cooking With Lavender - 1/21/2015
by Jim & Dotti Becker
Cooking With Lavender
Lavender is very popular in cooking. Be careful to use the right amount; too much is bitter or perfume-like and can ruin the dish. Experiment with small amounts or use trusted recipes. It’s important to use the right varieties, as different types have different flavors. The English lavenders (Lavandula angustifolia cultivars) are favorites as they contain the least amount of camphor. These are the best lavenders for sweet dishes like jellies, cookies, cakes and ice cream. Though lavandins (Lavandula x intermedia cultivars) such as ‘Grosso’ and ‘Provence’ are also used, they have a much more camphoric taste. Some chef’s feel they have more gusto and prefer them in breads and biscuis.
You should avoid the French (L. dentata), Spanish (L. stoechas) and green (L. viridis) lavenders for sweet recipes as these are very piney and camphoric. These lavenders are excellent, however, for grilling and smoking meats, fish, and vegetables. Lavender flowers can be used fresh or dried. Dried flowers are about 3 times more potent as fresh flowers. Drying flowers for cooking is easy. Pick the spikes when the first few corollas have opened and hang the bunch up in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. They can be rubbed off of the stems once dried. Store dried flowers in an air-tight container.
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