Lavender– Sure it Smells Nice, But it Tastes Good, Too!

Highlights:

  • Lavender is a crop that is easily maintained
  • Lavender is no longer just used as aromatherapy
  • It is being used in several sweet and savory food dishes
Lavender Field by Flower Gardener 2009 (Flower Picture Gallery)

Lavender Field by Flower Gardener 2009 (Flower Picture Gallery)

When lathering up with a lavender scented body wash, have you ever thought to yourself, “This might make a great dessert!”?  Well, more and more chefs and lavender farmers are beginning to think just that.

Darci Malone, a parks and recreation junior at Cal Poly said that when she thinks of lavender, she thinks of fragrance. Similarly, Anna Consani, a political science sophomore said she thinks of weddings and lotion. These ideas are sure to change, however, with the new up and coming ways of utilizing lavender crops. 

Before we get into the new ways that lavender is being used, here’s a little background on the plant itself:

  • Lavender is a crop that is very easy to grow and maintain
  • It grows best in warm, Mediterranean climates
  • But since the plant is sturdy and strong, it is capable of withstanding harsh weather
  • The plant requires good drainage, and doesn’t mind drought
  • Once harvested, lavender is used in products such as: wreaths, bouquets, oils, lotions, soaps, candles and food

Now, lavender is popping up in five star restaurant desserts such as crème brulee and savory rubs on lamb , as well as ice cream in places like Marianne’s Ice Cream in Santa Cruz, California. Which on a side note I might add is shockingly purple, but is quite pleasant once you taste it.

But how much of today’s lavender crop is going toward food products?  Tina Reikes owner of Bear Flag Farm in Winters, California said:

“A little goes a long way. Of our four acres of lavender, about two percent goes to making essential oils for caterers and other food products”—Tina Reikes

Lavender Products Around My Apartment

Lavender Products Around My Apartment

This is an important idea in the use of lavender in food because consumers don’t have to buy mass quantities of lavender to use it effectively. Many lavender farmers are noticing a new trend in the use of lavender in food, though; and this trend is increasing the amount of crop needed for food products, like at Wimberley Lavender Farm (which is outside of Austin, Texas).

“Approximately 10 percent of our crop is used for food products, but this is trending upward as people are becoming more open to the idea of lavender in their food.”—O’Neil Provost, owner of Wimberley Lavender Farm

Many farms are starting to add recipe sections to their websites because of this, boasting that:

“Lavender is surprisingly delicious in both sweet and savory dishes”— Sweet Dreams Lavender Farm (Austin, Texas)

So why should you as a consumer use lavender in your own home cooking, you might ask?  Well, according to Ed Higgins, chef of Quattro at Palo Alto’s Four Seasons:

“It’s easy to care for and you have both buds and flowers to work with as a flavor component and as a garnish.”—Ed Higgins, in an article by Kelly Huth for The Express-Times

Regardless, now you have some background on how lavender is grown and how some people are finding new ways to use the crop as an herb in food, instead of just aromatherapy. Now all you have to decide is whether you want to join the new wave of lavender foodies or whether you’d rather just smell like it.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: