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How to Incorporate Lavender Into Your Cooking

Lavender smells and looks great, but have you ever thought about cooking with it? Chances are you've probably been put off by the floral herb out of fear that your food will end up tasting like an expensive lotion or a fancy soap, but fear not, because lavender is perfect in a number of dishes, and can be used for so much more than just garnish.

It's been used in cooking for a very long time

While lavender has reportedly been used for centuriesQueen Elizabeth I is said to have had a love for lavender preserve, and reportedly demanded that there never be a meal without it on her table—it's only recently come onto most of our radars, and appears to be making a bit of a comeback.

Use it in the right way

Pick out lavender buds that have been marked for cooking, "culinary lavender," unless you grow them yourself and know that they are free from pesticides. It's also important to note that the lavender flavor is more concentrated when it's dried out, and you would, therefore, use far less of it than you would if it were fresh.

Sweet or savory? Why not both

Lavender is great in sorbets, and ice creams, as well as shortbread cookies, and rhubarb lavender crumble. But don't just think of lavender as an ingredient for only sweets, because it can also be used for savories. The beauty of lavender is that it compliments a wide range of foods. Some ingredients that it goes particularly well with include berries (like strawberries and blueberries), as well as honey, and spices and herbs like black pepper, thyme, and oregano.

According to What's Cooking America, lavender makes a great substitute for rosemary in breads, and Martha Stewart notes that it's great sprinkled over buttermilk fried chicken, while MNN suggests making a delicious onion pie with lavender, bacon and blue cheese.

Other uses for lavender include adding it to your fresh green salad, mixing it with ice teas and lemonades, and infusing it into syrups and sugar.

What to know before you start cooking with lavender

The use of lavender is really only limited by your creativity and experimentation, although there are some important tips to know before cooking with it. According to The Spruce, it's always best to use lavender sparingly, and they suggest that instead of using small amounts of dried lavender when baking, to use sugar infused with lavender instead. As for savories, they suggest roasting in a skillet first over medium heat, while constantly stirring.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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