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Cooking with Lavender

chopping lavender flowers for cooking

If you have visited the Wānaka Lavender Farm and laid eyes on our lavender treats, you will know that there are various delicious ways of incorporating lavender into baking and cooking.

There are over 400 varieties of lavender in the world and most of them are grown for their aesthetics, fragrance or oil production, not for eating. The edible type of lavender to use for food flavouring is Lavandula Angustifolia, also known as English Lavender or True Lavender. This can be in flower form, fresh or dried, or as an oil. It is essential to use this culinary lavender when adding to food.

Lavender and Savoury Foods

The rich, floral aroma of lavender might make you doubt its potential to be a good ingredient to involve in your dinner plans. However, these beautiful purple plants can be just as impressive in food as any other herb, like rosemary. In fact, lavender pairs nicely with rosemary, marjoram, and oregano, as well as lemon and honey, and it will step up to the plate (pun intended) in delicately seasoning meats or fatty fishes.

Lavender cuts through harsh flavours and can be used to elevate a meal. The trick is to be conservative and to not overdo it - no one wants a mouthful of soap flavour! As we like to say: lavender may be the star in the garden, but in the kitchen, this herb's job is to bring out the best in others!

If you're not sure where to start with lavender in food, why not try making a lavender vinegar which is perfect to dress your favourite salad? It's an easy addition to any meal and tastes like summer. You can whip this up by simply infusing white vinegar with clean, fresh culinary lavender flowers and let sit for a few weeks in a cool, dark space.

Here are some other examples of how lavender can be utilised in the kitchen:

  • Rub lavender salt into lamb (or a meat of your choice) for a subtle lavender-tasting crust.

  • Sprinkle dried culinary lavender flowers onto a tray of veggies for some amazingly aromatic lavender roasted vegetables.

  • Decorate your starters with fresh lavender flower sprinkles or sprigs.

amuse bouche/starters/snack with lavender

Lavender and Sweet Foods

Cooking with lavender doesn't have to be complicated, you can even bake with it! Lavender has a lot to offer when implemented in sweet treats. At the Wānaka Lavender Farm, we use our favourite flower in all of our recipes and can not recommend it enough.

You can add lavender sugar as a glaze to any bake which makes it a super handy ingredient to have in the pantry. Did you know this is what we do to the lavender and blueberry muffins sold in our tearoom? Dried culinary lavender is used in the mix itself and then we sprinkle the sugar on top before they enter the oven. That sweet lavender glaze and a lavender sprig is our equivalent of a cherry on top.

cake with lavender

Other examples of using lavender in desserts or sweet treats:

  • Infusing ice cream with culinary lavender oil gives you a lot of room for creativity in finding the right combination of flavours.

  • Take your favourite cookie or cupcake recipe, and throw some dried culinary lavender flowers in there for a hint of a floral taste.

  • Make a lavender-infused Crème Brûlée for a truly delectable dessert.

  • Use lavender as the secondary ingredient to make a mouth-watering jam, or other condiments.

cooking with lavender- making lavender jam - pots on the stove with ingredients in

TIP: Lavender comes through differently depending on the other ingredients involved, e.g. in a sorbet with boysenberry it works by enhancing the sour berry flavour. It's good to experiment with it and see what works for your taste!

Want a tried and tested recipe to get started? Try our Lavender Polenta Cake with Seasonal Fruits.

Or, take a look at some of our favourite culinary lavender collaborations with local businesses.


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