Cooking With Lavender

Cooking with lavender has been an integral aspect of our "lavender lifestyle" since the beginnings of Pelindaba Lavender. In the farm kitchen, we cook up a broad range of lavender products for the kitchen and the table to share the extraordinary flavor of lavender with culinary adventurers far and wide.

Cooking with Lavender - Savory Recipes

Lavender's time-honored place in the kitchen extends much further than Pelindaba's story, however. Queen Elizabeth I of England is reputed to have required that there always be a jar of lavender conserve on her table, and took lavender tea whenever her monarchical duties caused her stress, which, given the events of her times, was very likely often. Up through the 19th Century, lavender was as much of a culinary staple as rosemary is in the 21st. It then appears to have largely disappeared from kitchens in the early decades of the last century, perhaps due to the turmoil of cataclysmic events of those times. In the last three decades or so, however, more venturesome chefs and bakers have rediscovered its many culinary virtues.

Cooking with Lavender - Vegetable Recipes

Savory and Sweet Recipes

What is truly distinctive about lavender is that it is one of the very few herbs that can be used across the entire food spectrum, from the savory to the sweet. Lavender is in the same family as rosemary and, as such, it lends itself very nicely to savory dishes. Where you spot rosemary in a recipe, usually lavender can be added or substituted with delicious results. Equally delectable is the way lavender's own subtle sweetness is enhanced in sweet dishes, be they chocolate-based or fruit or citrus inspired. The range of tastes to which lavender can contribute is extraordinary.


Try these at home using our organic culinary lavender and other savory products...

Cooking with Lavender - Savory Culinary Lavender Products


Try these at home using our organic culinary lavender and other sweet products...

Cooking with Lavender - Sweet Culinary Lavender Products

The best lavender for cooking

We have found that a portion of the wariness of some to venture into the world of culinary lavender lies in a lack of awareness or insufficient experience with its remarkable versatility. Most often, in fact, it is due to a previous unpleasant taste experience. If non-culinary lavender is used it can create a bitter or overly floral taste that is, understandably, unwelcome. When good quality culinary lavender is used appropriately, however, the aforementioned wariness rapidly evaporates once the results are tasted.

When purchasing lavender for culinary purposes, it is important to make sure it is a true culinary or food-grade product. Culinary grade lavender should be harvested early in the flowering season when just a handful of flowers have opened up on the flower head. Stated another way, lavender buds obtained later in the flowering season may have their culinary utility compromised as the paradoxically bitter essential oil builds up in the bud. While being laden with essential oil makes for wonderfully aromatic buds for other uses, it can be quite unsuitable for culinary purposes. Inadequate understanding of the optimal time for harvesting culinary lavender has contributed to many poor culinary experiences.

A simple way to taste if your lavender is suitable for cooking is to squeeze a few buds between your fingers. If they have an exceptionally strong fragrance, use them for aromatic purposes. If, however, there is only a mild fragrance the volume of essential oil in the buds is not large enough to negatively effect the flavor.

There is much written about which varieties of lavender are the best for cooking. Our collective experience has been that most varieties of both the intermedia and angustifolia work well, so personal taste preference should be the ultimate deciding factor. At the farm, we prefer the species intermedia and its ‘Provence’ variety in particular. We use this variety for our culinary products and it has found a fond and rapidly expanding audience among our customers and friends.

Cooking with Lavender - Sweet Lavender Recipes

Tips for using lavender in the kitchen

Although some recipes call for fresh lavender, we tend to use dried lavender flower buds in preparing the dish itself, reserving fresh flowers for garnish. We find the dried flower buds fully retain the lavender taste experience and are generally easier to handle.

As in any cooking with herbs and spices, it helps to have the flavor burst lightly on the tongue rather than drown out other flavors, but at the same time it should have a definitive presence. The quantities used in our recipes are, we believe, those that best exhibit the wonderful contribution that lavender brings to the table.

Grinding dried lavender before using is an effective means to fully benefit from the wonderful flavor of lavender. The nature of your recipe should dictate how finely to grind — a very fine grind would be ideal to maintain the smooth texture of jams, sauces or custards, whereas a coarser grind would be perfectly suitable for rubs and marinades.

Cooking with Lavender - Tasty Lavender Recipes

Where to start

The foundation to all cooking with lavender is our organic culinary lavender. Paired with our lavender cookbook, which contains more recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner and everything inbetween, you are ready to start exploring this tantalizing taste.

If you'd prefer to ease into lavender as a flavor or you aren't the most confident cook in the kitchen, here are some quick and easy ways to introduce your taste buds to lavender...

In recent years, we have noticed with interest and a smile that our personal affection for the flavor lavender is being increasingly shared by other chefs and bakers (both at-home and professional) who have chosen to travel the same delicious road.

Cooking with Lavender - Organic Culinary Lavender grown at Pelindaba Lavender Farm

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